1-24-2011: Papelbon and Ellsbury sign, looking at the recent AL East moves, SS controversy?, the farm system

Warning: long post ahead! If you get bored, check out the countdown to the pitchers and catchers report date here.

Sox avoid arbitration with Papelbon and Ellsbury

Never fear arbitration, Red Sox Nation – Theo Epstein is here. Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury both agreed to new one-year contracts last week, avoiding arbitration despite what were seen to be complex cases. Epstein did the right thing by both players, finalizing the payroll and letting us move on to the more important questions.

For Papelbon, he’s accumulated elite closer stats at a young age, but there are indications that he’s losing his dominance in recent years, and reports that the Sox considered trading him this offseason; that didn’t prevent him from getting a $12M deal for his last year under team control. Should Papelbon leave via free agency after this season, he will almost undoubtedly be a Type A free agent. But those two compensation picks are not guaranteed, since Paps is someone who might actually accept arbitration should the Sox offer it. One look at this year’s reliever deals (apart from Rafael Soriano’s deal), and you’ll see why making $13-15M with the Sox for one season might look better than signing elsewhere, especially if the Yankees (currently with two closers under contract for 2012) are out of the running. Not to mention that several other big-name relievers could hit the market for 2012, including the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton and the Padres’ Heath Bell. This has led to speculation by some that the Sox will try to trade Papelbon during this season, so as to get something for him rather than let him walk for nothing. I think that if the Sox do as well as we all think they will, they will keep him on the squad, and he can walk. It’s worth it if he pitches well.

Then there’s Ellsbury, who looked to be on the up and up until the “unstoppable” Adrian Beltre derailed him for basically all of 2010. With a possible rift between him and the team, questions about his toughness and ability to play regularly, some were arguing that the Sox should try to lowball Ells. That would have been a bad move, and will not work with Scott Boras. As it is, he’s satisfied for now and will try to reestablish his value for next year’s arbitration negotiations.

Manny, Damon and Vernon Wells…

The Rays, Jays and Yankees all made some moves recently in what looks like a bid to catch up with the Red Sox. In what seems like a bad joke, Andrew Friedman reeled in both Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez this week. Damon gives them someone who can play left and give Desmond Jennings a chance to take his time, and he can even spell Dan Johnson at first. Manny will probably be the first legitimate DH they’ve ever had.

Name Pos PA AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO SB Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
Damon LF 622 559 151 30 7 13 87 60 61 90 20 0.271 0.344 0.422 0.766 0.351
Ramirez LF 459 397 114 23 3 18 61 65 56 87 3 0.288 0.384 0.491 0.875 0.391

Damon is still a very solid hitter (though the defense is a problem), and with Manny, they may not even feel the loss of Carlos Pena. Both former idiots are aging players and Manny has got his team chemistry issues, but winning solves all ills, so it could work out well for them at a very low cost.

Read more of this post

Advertisements

11-23-2010: Martinez signs with Detroit

There are widespread reports today that the Detroit Tigers are ready to sign Victor Martinez to a 4-year, $50M contract. The annual value of the deal is $12.5M, and ranks as one of the largest free agent contracts for a catcher in baseball history. Reportedly, he had competitive offers on the table from the Orioles and the White Sox, while the Red Sox maxed out their offer at 4 years and $42M. Peter Gammons was right again.

Let’s get something straight – the Red Sox weren’t outbid; they passed. Epstein could have easily matched the Tigers’ offer, but he just didn’t want Martinez as our catcher for the next four years. The Tigers are willing to live with Martinez’ defense. A very tough stance for Theo to take in this town, but kudos to him. Let’s see what happens over the next 4 seasons, and don’t forget the two compensation picks we’ll get as a result of this signing.

Read more of this post

2010-2011 Offseason: The catcher gap

I have begun churning out my first projections for 2011, and here’s what I get for the catchers I can project:

Name AB HR RBI Avg OBP SLG wOBA
Victor Martinez 464 15 76 0.289 0.359 0.458 0.366
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 259 7 32 0.242 0.320 0.388 0.321
Dusty Brown 218 5 28 0.243 0.321 0.380 0.321
Jason Varitek 340 11 41 0.222 0.310 0.380 0.314

I don’t think I need to comment here. The dropoff from Victor Martinez to anyone else is precipitous, and that’s putting it lightly. Not only is Jason Varitek not looking like an everyday option, he’s looking worse than our other backup options, so I really don’t expect the Sox to sign him out of sentimentality.

Read more of this post

Links 5-5-2010: Sox down Halos 5-1, Papi still in, Ellsbury takes BP

So, about that game yesterday. I would have lifted Jon Lester in the 8th against Mike Napoli with the score 1-1. Yeah, I know he hasn’t done much this year, but he’s got a career .285/.393/.520/.913 line against lefties; he was also 2-2 in the game. I think Lester was up to 103 pitches when he came to bat, a little short. Napoli singles, and the Angels have two one with no outs. Thankfully, Mike Scioscia believes in the sacrifice, and Dustin Pedroia came through with an inning-ending double play (which may not have actually been two), but I don’t think the extra drama was needed. Anyways, give Dustin credit and the win went to Lester, which he deserved.

Jonathan Papelbon also came on and mixed it up quite a bit. With a four-run lead, you can afford to try some stuff out. His splitter was probably the best I’ve seen from him all year, which helped speed things along.

Read more of this post

Arguing balls and strikes: they’re no angels

For those of you who watched the Red Sox come back last night in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, I have to say, it’s pretty clear that we caught a break with Nick Green’s walk. So the Angels do have a legitimate beef, according to PITCHf/x. It hurts to lose a game like that, but I don’t know that it should have caused dissension or even fighting in the clubhouse. Now Brian Fuentes has come out and accused Boston fans of intimidating the umpires. That’s a little too much – even Angels catcher Mike Napoli hestitated to support his closer on that one. At least Torii Hunter had a better attitude about the whole thing; it’s not just that at-bat, but both teams had plenty of opportunities to put the game away earlier.

Not to jinx or anything, but given the way the Halos are playing against Boston and NY this year, I’m really not too worried about them, come playoff time.

Pitching staff to shake out this week

This is going to be a big week for our pitching staff. We expect at least one roster change, if not more by the end of the week. Let me summarize:

Read more of this post

2008 Offseason: The Texas catchers

Much has been made of the catching surplus of the Texas Rangers this offseason, and they have announced that they are open to dealing one of them this offseason in return for a package centered around a top-of-the-rotation pitching prospect. This is quite understandable, given the lack of catching talent around the League and the Rangers’ constant lack of pitching. In the context of the Red Sox, we are likely talking about dealing one of Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson or Michael Bowden. Let’s take a closer look at these trade candidates to see what we have here:

Read more of this post