11-9-2011: Other areas of need and available free agents

Ben Cherington came out yesterday and suggested that the Red Sox were not likely to be big players on the free agent market this offseason. I think he’s being genuine, but even if they were, what good would it do them to come out and say that?

Here are the problem areas as I see them, and some free agent projections (all numbers assume a transition to the AL East).

1. Starting pitching

With so much money already committed to the rotation, I would be surprised if the Red Sox continued to throw money at this problem. Adding C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish would be nice, but can we afford another $100M contract here, while our core players will be earning more and more every season? Signing a big arm to a long-term deal like that might mean saying goodbye to Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz once their current deals expire.

Name Age IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP
CJ Wilson 31 182.1 8.2 3.7 0.5 3.42 1.30
Roy Oswalt 34 161.6 7.1 2.4 0.9 3.93 1.30
Erik Bedard 33 64.2 8.7 3.5 1.0 3.94 1.36
Hiroki Kuroda 37 154.8 7.2 2.4 1.0 4.06 1.34
Mark Buehrle 33 189.1 4.9 2.1 0.9 4.10 1.39
Edwin Jackson 28 186.5 7.3 3.3 0.9 4.14 1.45
Freddy Garcia 35 109.2 6.1 2.7 1.0 4.27 1.40
Bartolo Colon 39 93.8 7.0 2.7 1.2 4.28 1.40
Javier Vazquez 35 167.3 8.0 2.7 1.3 4.41 1.33
Jeff Francis 31 123.2 5.6 2.4 0.9 4.58 1.46
Paul Maholm 30 161.2 5.5 3.2 0.9 4.68 1.54
Tim Wakefield 45 118.8 5.8 3.3 1.1 4.92 1.46

As you can see, bringing back Tim Wakefield really shouldn’t be an option; almost any free agent is likely to be better than him going forward. Erik Bedard has huge injury concerns, and that’s not what this staff needs. Hiroki Kuroda doesn’t seem likely to come out east. I think Roy Oswalt could be a fit if he’s willing to take a two-year deal at good money, and Buehrle would be a solid signing if we can get him for fewer than four years. Edwin Jackson scares me a little bit long-term, so I’d avoid offering him more than three years as well.

2. A closer/setup man (or two)

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Links 10-01-2010: A quiet October in Boston

Well, we’ve been saying it for some time now, but it is now mathematically official – the Red Sox are out of it. Here’s Theo Epstein’s statement on their elimination. Nothing to do but root for the Rays against the Yankees now. And, of course, begin obsessing about the offseason. Sox Therapy is looking ahead too. Don’t cry over spilled milk, like this post does.

Notes on 2010

Go out and show some love for Mike Lowell on October 2, which has been dubbed, “Thanks, Mike” Night. He’s been a class character and I have the utmost respect for the man. And for God’s sake, someone get him his final home run ball.

Looking for a way to explain how the Red Sox could possibly have ranked second in offense after losing Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia for much of the year? Look no further than Adrian Beltre. His season had some of the hallmarks of an MVP year, with much of his success being found on hard-hit fly balls.

BP’s redux on the Red Sox this year was that it wasn’t just the injuries, but the poor starting pitching outside of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz that doomed the Red Sox. All of the focus has been on the bullpen, but I think they looked extra bad because they were forced to pitch tired by the rotation. Things should right themselves next year as Josh Beckett and John Lackey regress back towards who they were (fingers crossed).

There were some rumblings that the Red Sox seemed to fare poorly against poor teams, while they played well against tough opponents. This study at Dugout Central shows them as middle-of-the-pack in this regard.

David Ortiz downplays his 100 RBI season. Good for him. 100 is just a number, as is 20 wins. Lester still matches up against anyone else just fine.

Terry Francona insists that Jonathan Papelbon is all growed up, but Paps’ complaints about the umpiring tell us otherwise. It’s the game, Paps. Just do your job.

For those of you wondering why the Red Sox claimed Felipe Lopez for a stretch run with little hope and little need for him, Francona notes that he was insurance for Marco Scutaro, who was apparently playing with a lot of physical problems for some time. That, and his departure could net the Red Sox a compensation draft pick. He passed up a chance at the playoffs with the Padres to be here, though, so we’ll see what happens.

Looking ahead

The crowd believes Beltre will command 3-4 years at $13M per season as a free agent. If it’s three years, I might do it, but if it’s four, I’d hesitate a bit at that price.

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Links 9-20-2010: Offer to V-Mart, Ortiz’ option, Youk, Ethier, Drew, Darvish

The Sox apparently made a two-year offer to Victor Martinez, which he understandably turned down. I know they don’t want to sign him long-term to be their catcher, but this is an obvious low-ball offer to one of the upper-tier free agent prizes this offseason. I’d love to see them grab him for 3-4 years, with the understanding that he will transition mostly to 1B/DH towards the end of the deal.

There was an earlier report that the Sox are prepared to pick up David Ortiz’s $12.5M option for 2011. I’d be very surprised if they went this route rather than explore a multi-year deal at a lower annual salary.

Here is a rundown on what the Red Sox rotation could look like next year (hint: it’s very similar to this year’s model). Look for the Sox to try and ink Clay Buchholz to an extension, thought they might want to wait until his stock drops some. His numbers this year are kind of crazy good, and probably a bit better than we can expect from him going forward.

Here are the players going who are eligible to go to arbitration this offseason.

Always the good soldier, Kevin Youkilis has gone on record saying that he’ll play wherever the Sox ask him to next year. Normally you don’t worry about moving a Gold Glove first baseman, but moving Youk to third base could give the Sox flexibility in case they can’t re-sign Adrian Beltre this offseason.

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