4-20-2011: Saltalamacchia struggling to earn the trust of the staff

Terry Francona hinted that Jarrod Saltalamacchia may not have the full confidence of the pitching staff:

I think sometimes a catcher can put down the same signs, but depending on who it is, the pitcher throws with a little more commitment. I think Tek has earned that. It’s always going to be hard for the next guy to come in to compare themselves, the way the game’s being run, with Tek.

I’ve said all season that I think this is a problem, as can be seen by Salty’s catcher ERA this year (7.14) versus that of Jason Varitek (2.40). I can see how it would be hard for anyone as the new guy to follow a guy who’s caught four no-hitters. However, Victor Martinez wasn’t the best defensive catcher, and they had no problem throwing to him last year. Salty may just not have the ability to win over his staff, and that’s a problem. If things don’t change soon, I’d like them to give Mike McKenry a look when they have an opportunity (perhaps when Varitek goes on the DL in June or whenever).

Links 12-1-2010: The plan forming, Victor as a DH, compensation picks, trading Scutaro, Guerrier, Parraz, Spring Training schedule

It’s starting to look like a near certainty that the Red Sox will sign one of either Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford. As I’ve said before, I like the idea of adding Werth as a long-term right-handed bat with some punch, though Crawford would be a good add as well. Werth is pretty good on defense as well, while Crawford is stellar in that category. Signing either would go a long way towards replacing the offense we’ve lost from last year’s team.

Yes, it’s been a slow offseason so far, but before you start complaining about how the Sox never spend money, read this. They are simply waiting it out. Werth is a Boras client, so any offer made now would simply be used as leverage to drive up the price. Werth will almost certainly not sign before Christmas, and may even hold out until late January.

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11-24-2010: Projection for Victor Martinez’ 4-year deal

What will Victor Martinez look like offensively for the Tigers over the four years he signed for? Here’s our “true talent” evaluation, adjusted for age, park, division and regressed to the average AL catcher:

2011 32 511 463 135 16 62 75 45 55 0 0.291 0.357 0.450 0.807 0.360 18.0
2012 33 493 449 129 15 59 71 41 52 0 0.287 0.349 0.440 0.790 0.353 13.8
2013 34 469 430 121 13 55 66 37 49 0 0.282 0.341 0.429 0.770 0.344 9.0
2014 35 439 406 112 12 50 60 32 46 0 0.276 0.332 0.415 0.747 0.334 4.1

You be the judge as to whether this expected performance is worth $50M.

And, just for comparison, what we might expect from Jarrod Saltalamacchia over the next four seasons:

2011 26 286 257 63 7 33 32 27 80 1 0.244 0.320 0.386 0.706 0.320 -1.5
2012 27 288 258 63 7 34 33 27 79 1 0.245 0.322 0.389 0.712 0.322 -0.8
2013 28 287 257 63 7 34 33 27 78 1 0.245 0.322 0.391 0.713 0.323 -0.7
2014 29 283 254 62 7 33 33 27 77 1 0.244 0.321 0.390 0.711 0.322 -1.0

Sure, there’s no comparison in terms of overall production, but Saltalamacchia will conservatively fall short by about 4 WAR over four seasons, or about one marginal win per season with the bat. Let’s say they are about even defensively. Then that’s not too bad of a deal, given that Salty will make perhaps one-tenth of Victor’s salary over this period of time.

That’s $45M we can invest in other players, which should be enough to squeeze out at least one WAR per season. I know, this is only a likely scenario, and it could turn out much worse for the Sox, but it could also look much better if Salty blooms into a good big league catcher. The pains and risks of being a baseball analyst…

Links 11-24-2010: V-Mart reactions, catcher

The news yesterday of Victor Martinez signing with the Tigers has ignited a lot of skepticism about the Red Sox for next season, but it’s still WAAAY too early to judge this offseason. It’s hard to keep perspective on the situation when Detroit’s winning bid was just $8M more than our best offer; for a team like the Red Sox, that’s easily absorbed over four seasons. They simply didn’t like him as their catcher for the long haul, and we have plenty of other needs to fill.

What do we do about catcher now? Everyone is agreed that we have some potentially good options in the pipeline, but we’ll need to sign someone for the short-term while we wait to see what exactly we have in Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty knows he needs to capitalize on this opportunity; let’s just hope he doesn’t pressure himself too much, because the fans won’t cut him much slack, I’m afraid. With the departure of Martinez, catcher could become our new shortstop, that seemingly unfillable position that leaves fans dissatisfied every year.

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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.

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11-19-2010: Crazy offseason scenario number 1

All of this Justin Upton talk has me thinking. The Red Sox need two bats to replace Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, and it’s generally thought that we will likely sign a free agent corner outfielder (Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford) and a corner infielder. What if, instead of blowing $100M on two good but aging players, we fill those spots via trade for good young players, utilizing our top prospects? Stay with me here.

Step 1. Send Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Josh Reddick to Arizona for Justin Upton

I know, you’re saying WHAT? But hear me out.

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11-18-2010: Beltre and Martinez projections

Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez represent the top free agent bats at their respective positions this offseason. We have the payroll flexibility, so it seems like a no-brainer that we should re-sign both of them, right?

The problem is not the annual salary, but the number of years we would need in order to place a successful bid on these players. Oakland has reportedly offered Beltre 5 years and $64M. At the end of the deal, he will have played his 36-year old season. Do we really want to sign him for that many years? Martinez may also require 4-5 years to sign as well.

One way to help decide that is to look at aging curves and apply them to our projections for 2011 to get a year-by-year look at what Beltre could do over the term of that deal. Let’s take a look at how their true talent is likely to regress with age if they follow the same aging patterns as most top players in baseball.

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