Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Meetings Eve- Possible Red Sox Actions

After making perhaps their key moves of the off season all ready by re-upping Mike Napoli at 2 years, 32 Million and fortifying their bullpen by adding two more strike throwing machines in Burke Badenhop and 2013 closer for the NL champs Cardinals, Edwin Mujica, the Red Sox move on to Orlando and the 2013 Winter Meetings.  Ben Cherington in a pre meetings address to the Boston media, said the Red Sox would be moving into the more "opportunistic" portion of the off season.  Here are five possible opportunities for the Red Sox while in Orlando, in an approximate order of likelihood.

1.  Do Nothing.  Or at least nothing earth shattering.  In the same pre meetings chat with the media, Ben C said if Opening Day was tomorrow, he would be fine going to battle with the team he has now.  The biggest thing this statement points to would be starting jobs for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Jackie Bradley, Jr. in center field.  If this is the case, the "do nothing" may become do nothing except acquire a backup shortstop ( or SS-3B) and a right handed hitting center fielder to complement Bradley, Jr. More on the infield later in this post, as far as centerfield the two names mentioned most often are free agents Franklin Gutierrez and Rajai Davis.  Gutierrez is a Gold Glover whose career has been derailed with injuries, while Davis is one of the few players around to match the departed Jacoby Ellsbury in stolen base abilities.  However it is almost certain if this type of center field backup is added, either Daniel Nava or Mike Carp ( or Jonny Gomes) would have to go to make room.  These are moves more likely to made later this winter not in Orlando.

2. Trade for Matt Kemp.  This is the only trade rumor really out there currently attached to Boston.  This would be a tough call for Cherington and his baseball ops team.  Kemp is only 29 and just two years ago was in the discussion as the best player in the game.  But a series of injuries, including serious should and labrum injuries, have turned Kemp into a question mark.  His current contract along with the injuries probably would be a deal breaker.  His deal runs 6 more years at 126M ( 21M per year). But the Dodgers are looking to move an outfielder among Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Either, because they have these three plus Yasel Puig and upcomer Joc Pedersen.  And reportedly LA would eat a portion of one of their outfielder's deals to move them.   If the Dodgers would eat the same 30M Detroit ate when dealing Prince Fielder, that would make Kemp's deal 6 years at 96M, or 16M per year, the same AAV the Sox just gave Napoli ( granted at three times as many years). In addition to the lower priced deal, there is speculation the Sox would require LA to take Ryan Dempster as part of the package saving another 13.25M for next year. Not a lot of talk about who else would be in a package, but LA needs a left side infielder.  They are not getting Bogaerts, so maybe Will Middlebrooks, Dempster, and perhaps Allen Webster going back to LA?   Because teams like Texas and Seattle are also interested according to reports, the Sox could get out bid even if they are interested.  I see the Sox in the hunt for Kemp but not at all costs.

3.Trade a veteran starting pitcher.  I still adamantly believe this will happen before 2014 begins, but this week may not be time yet ( unless Dempster goes to LA in the scenario above).  The Sox have six experienced starters in Lester, Buchholz, Doubront, Lackey, Peavy, and Dempster.  They also have another half a dozen or more young starters who are ready or damned near ready for the show,  The Sox have enough depth to move one and with all teams looking for hurlers, the Red Sox could get a nice return in either an usable player for 2014, or some prospects. But the reason Orlando may not be the time and place is the are still a number of starting pitchers on the free agent market that need to find homes. Guys like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, and Bronson Arroyo to name four. Once the free agents sign up, the teams that miss out may be willing to shell out something good for Dempster, Peavy( the most likely to go?), or John Lackey. In a bigger deal you could even see Felix Doubront go, but the Sox are not giving him away( they would not "give away" any of them, well maybe Dempster.)

4. Sign Stephen Drew ( or Not).  This option also could be called "Resolving the Left Side of the Infield".  From every reporter's opinion out there it is a 50-50 split between the Red Sox wanting Drew back for shortstop and the other half feeling they want him to walk so they can cash in another draft pick and put Xander Bogarts at shortstop along side Will Middlebrooks at third.  The bring Drew back theory includes the feeling the Red Sox have soured on Middlebrooks and would rather have Xander at third.  Depending on how down Boston is on Will they would either trade him or have him backup third and maybe first.  The other part of the Drew returns theory is with a draft pick attached to Drew no one else will sigh him and he will come back to Boston on a cheap one or two year deal.

If Drew does leave and Boston goes with the kids on the infield's left side, they will need to acquire a backup shortstop, who can third as well perhaps.   It could be the return of John MacDonald, but hopefully someone with a little more pop.  Drew and his agent Scott Boras may very well have to wait until February to find someone willing to give up that draft pick and the Sox will wait along with them.

5. Make a Blockbuster.  Now there are no rumors of this at all except for the Red Sox should package six of the best young players not named Xander to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton crowd.  Since Miami continues to insist Stanton is not available it is likely not happening this week.   But the reason I include this option is this:  the Red Sox, perhaps more than any other team ( except maybe Texas or St. Louis) are perfectly positioned to make a huge offer on whatever young star becomes surprisingly available to trade.  Boston of course has the money to spend on the right player, but they also have a deep inventory of players at all levels and nearly at any position ( with exception of first base).  They have young players with big league experience ( Middlebrooks, Doubront), they have a wave of players on the cusp of big league ready ( Xander, Bradley, Jr. Workman, Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, De La Rosa) catchers ( Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, Ryan Lavarnway) middle infielders a step or two away from the bigs ( Deven Marrero, Mookie Betts) even more pitching than listed above ( Henry Owens, Matt Barnes).

So I do not expect this blockbuster, but if any team pulls a headline deal out of the blue in Orlando, it could be the World Champion Boston Red Sox.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Red SoxFree Agent Departures ( and All Hell) Breaks Loose

On Tuesday evening multiple confirmed reports are that free agent Jacoby Ellsbury has signed a seven year 153 million dollar deal guessed it ...the New York Yankees.  A few quick initial thoughts.

* Nearly every Red Sox fan was accepting of the idea Ellsbury was going to the highest bidder.  But, about 50-70 % of that group just wanted him not to go to one team, the Yankees.  But really hasn't it been obvious for years now that someday Jacoby and Scott Boras were gonna take the high bid and isn't the highest bidder more often than not the Yankees.

* Does this mean New York is turning its back on Robinson Cano?  Personally,  I only thought the Yanks would grab Ellsbury if Cano some how slipped through their fingers.  Nearly every report out there tonight is claiming the Yanks still plan on signing Cano, but they have been offering him about the exact deal Ellsbury got. Will this piss off Cano further, enough to make him go?  I think he stays with the Yankees.

* All of this talk about the Yankees keeping themselves under the 189M luxury tax limit, and they will spend accordingly is, was , and forever will be BULLSHIT.

* I have bad news for the Yankee fans, even with Ellsbury and assuming Cano, the entire rest of your lineup ranges from mediocrity ( McCann, Teixeria , Gardner, Soriano) to outright suckitude.  This suckitude includes the #2 Memorial Statue, wherever he plays shortstop( hahahahaha), DH, or maybe first base when Teixeira breaks down again( or if his career arc continues straight down).  And by the way, who is your closer, and your rotation after a declining CC and maybe Nova.  Keep shopping, George, jr's.

* April 22 is the first Yankee 2014 visit to Fenway.  This time Sox fans let's not eff it up.  Let's not repeat the sin committed against Johnny Damon.  Give Jacoby a huge ovation the first time he steps to the plate at Fenway.  He was part of TWO World Series Championship teams for the Red Sox.  Do not boo him, just cheer like hell after every out he makes. ( By the way, Ellsbury will need a lot of luck to ever win two more WS titles.)  And by the way Yankee fans Johnny Damon will no longer have the worst throwing arm in Yankee center field history.

* I hope, and I think it will not change Ben Cherington's off season plan.  Personally I hope it includes Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field come Opening Day.  I have thought all the long one more power bat probably an outfield bat is in Ben's playbook.  Well may find out soon with the Winter Meetings next week.

* Now nearly totally overshadowed by Ellsbury is the fact Jarrod Saltalamacchia is gone as well.  He has not signed anywhere yet.  Reportedly he is nearing a 3 year 24 M deal with his hometown Marlins. But the Sox have moved on and signed AJ Pierzynski to platoon with David Ross.  This probably deserves a post of its own, but just let me say, this would not have been my first choice at catcher.  But I do wholeheartedly endorse the idea of not blocking the path of Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. But with both Ellsbury and Salty gone, the Sox really need to sign Mike Napoli or get some power into the lineup somewhere.  No more Salty Dog Blues in the RSM live chats!!?