11-1-2011: Replacing Big Papi

The two biggest expiring contracts we have to deal with this offseason are those of DH David Ortiz and closer Jonathan Papelbon. Even though we can’t imagine a Red Sox team without these two integral players, they are both Type A free agents. Letting them walk and signing a replacement would result in a net gain of one or two high draft picks, which is very tempting. Should they be replaced? Can they be replaced? And with whom should they be replaced are some of the biggest questions facing new GM Ben Cherington. Let’s look at the DH problem first. Paying less for a DH seems like a very good way to drop payroll, as no other team has been paying $12M/year for their DH (of course, no other team has been getting our production from the DH spot, either).

What will we be missing?

Ortiz has become THE definition of a prototypical designated hitter, producing a number of stellar seasons since being signed by Theo Epstein before the 2003 season. In his first 5 seasons with Boston, Big Papi produced slugging percentages around or exceeding .600, but has fallen to earth quite a bit since then. Entering his age 36 season, we face the tough choice of re-signing this face of the franchise, or possibly letting him go to a division rival.

Ortiz had quite a renaissance 2011, slashing .309/.398/.554 and smacking 29 home runs. He cut his strikeouts significantly, becoming a much more selective hitter in the process; he posted a career-best 83.3% contact rate. His .321 BABIP suggests that it wasn’t just lucky hits that inflated his numbers, but it was in large part actual performance. Even with the excellent year, here’s what we see for the aging slugger over the next three seasons:

Year AB HR RBI Avg OBP SLG wOBA wRAA
2012 543 27 97 0.266 0.354 0.488 0.374 29.9
2013 513 23 86 0.258 0.337 0.462 0.356 17.6
2014 475 19 74 0.249 0.320 0.434 0.336 6.0

Looking at these projections, you can see why a lot of people have been warning against anything longer than a two-year deal for Ortiz; it’s thought that he’s looking for three years. There’s a very good chance that his offensive value just crashes in 1-3 years, so I really would not sign him for more than two years plus maybe a team option. Read more of this post

Advertisements

10-12-2011: Epstein to join the Cubs

If you haven’t heard it by now, Theo Epstein to the Cubs is pretty much a done deal at five years and between $15-20M. He will assume GM duties there, but he will be given basically free reign and report to only one person. It’s hard to blame him for wanting the opportunity Chicago offers, with a bigger market, a high-profile team, and a chance to make history – again. Still, if I were him, I don’t think I would want to leave a team like this, after the biggest September collapse in Major League history.

From what was reported, the front office was trying desperately to keep Epstein, but he’s had issues with them before about having more autonomy. On the bright side, the Sox stand to gain compensation for letting him leave a year early. It looks like it will be a high-profile prospect and cash, and names like RF Brett Jackson and SP Andrew Cashner have been mentioned. I’d be glad to add either of those guys to our organization; both of those are areas of need.

Read more of this post

Link 10-12-2011: How it all went down in September

Finally, the sordid details of the problems in the Red Sox clubhouse have come out. The Globe’s Bob Hohler lays it all out for us. The lowlights include a dysfunctional and fractured clubhouse, a “me-first” attitude among most of the players, and a general spoiled brat, complaining attitude.

Looking at this, I have to place a big part of the blame on Josh Beckett. He’s the guy who should have stepped up and talked to these guys who were getting out of line. John Lackey was the new guy, and would have been ostracized if he had pulled this stuff on his own, and Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are followers (though they didn’t have to be); they couldn’t have been like this without Beckett leading the chicken-and-beer-fueled charge. Instead we hear that Beckett was grousing that he fell out of contention for the Cy Young, and veterans like David Ortiz yakking about an RBI which should have been added to his stat line. Just disgraceful and disgusting. No wonder Terry Francona and Theo Epstein want to leave.

Read more of this post

10-03-2011: Thank you, Terry

The news broke last week: Terry Francona will not be back as manager of our Boston Red Sox. Thank you for eight amazing years, Terry. In the aftermath of the annoucement, it seems like the top management wanted him gone, and Tito graciously bowed out over Theo Epstein’s protests.

Looking back over the past eight years, you have to tip your cap for the job he’s done. When he was hired, no one expected the run of success the Sox have enjoyed until now. When the Sox ended their 86-year drought by coming back against the Yankees, Francona was at the helm. Francona’s got some awesome people skills – he had the trust of the players for almost the whole time, and I’m not sure that many managers could have lived with Manny Ramirez that long. Maybe more importantly, Francona handled the Boston media like a pro, never getting flustered, never letting things get out of proportion, never throwing his guys under the bus. Even with this year’s September debacle, Francona never named names or lost it publicly.

Read more of this post

8-16-2011: Sox have another successful draftee signing deadline

The Red Sox had a number of unsigned draftees the day of the signing deadline, but it was a general trend throughout baseball, as there were a rash of signings last night before midnight. The Sox signed seven more of their top picks, giving them success on nine of their top eleven selections. Only second round pick OF Williams Jerez and 8th rounder OF Senquez Golson did not sign from that group.

Theo Epstein managed to sign both first rounders and both first-round sandwich picks, who we profiled here. RHP Matt Barnes received a $1.5M bonus, while C Blake Swihart signed for $2.5M, LHP Henry Owens got $1.55M and OF Jackie Bradley got $1.1M. Pretty reasonable, since the Pirates had to shell out $13M on their top two picks. 3rd round C Jordan Weems had already signed last month, and 6th round LHP Miguel Pena signed shortly following the draft in June. Also signing with Boston yesterday were the following:

Read more of this post

7-13-2011: What about trading for Carlos Beltran?

J.D. Drew and our lack of production out of right field is concerning, I’ll grant you. One of the possible solutions has presented itself this week. The New York Mets, already 11 games back in the NL East, are trying to unload 34-year old Carlos Beltran and his weighty contract by the trade deadline. Beltran himself notes that he would approve a trade here.

Is he worth getting?

You may not hear as much about him these days except for his injury updates, but let’s get something straight – when healthy, Beltran is still an All-Star-level player. The last three years, he has posted a .292/.381/.482 triple slash line and a 135 OPS+. The problem is that he’s only managed 234 games in that time. If you have a problem with Drew never playing, you haven’t met Beltran yet.

That being said, he’s been healthy so far this year, and put up some great numbers (.382 wOBA and 146 wRC+). Beltran is a switch-hitter, which would help balance the lineup, and while he draws walks at a high rate, he strikes out far less than most power hitters (about 15% this year).

Read more of this post

5-21-2011: Sox acquire Morales, sign Millwood

Sox trade a PTBNL for Franklin Morales

The pitching injuries are piling up again. With Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks out, the bullpen is a little thin. I was a little surprised to hear that Hideki Okajima was DFA’d, but you have to know that the Sox were dissatisfied with their lefty reliever situation this year, quickly discarding Denys Reyes. This move comes down to upgrading the bullpen. Morales was considered a pretty good prospect just two years ago, and is a lefty who throws a 94 mph heater and a good curve. His presence makes the deteriorating Okajima expendable (his three-year numbers are all trending in the wrong direction). Theo Epstein is hoping that we can retain him if he can slip through waivers, but if not, we’ll trade him.

It’s true, Morales’ numbers are not good, but that’s why he was available. He strikes out more hitters than Oki, but has struggled with walking batters and giving up the long ball (though I hear that happens from time to time in Colorado). Perhaps Curt Young can work some magic with the young flamethrower. I’ll have to see what we send back in return for him, but this seems like a good upside deal to me.

Kevin Millwood signed to a minor-league deal

Read more of this post