The Ultimate Breakdown of the Red Sox Offseason

Hello dear readers, it has been a while, and I would just like to apologize for my lack of a presence (this always seems to happen). I’ve had exams, and I’ve been focusing nearly all of my energy on resurrecting my physics grade. So since my last entry, a lot has happened. I’m not here to catch you up, because you can read about the signing on your own. I’m here to analyze what these moves mean. 

The end of the 2009 Red Sox season was disappointing to say
the least. Of course, the feat of simply making the playoffs is something to be
proud of, considering there are 22 other teams who don’t. But when the offense
becomes anemic in the first round of the playoffs, and your closer blows the
lead that would have stopped you from getting swept, it’s disappointing. I
think that there were a lot of lessons that the Red Sox learned over the course
of the 2009 season, and there is certainly a lot to improve upon.

john lackey.jpg

I
think that the Red Sox learned that signing proven National League veterans
coming off injuries isn’t too promising. It is clear that the American League
is significantly more powerful than the National League (just look at the
All-Star games for the past decade). I understand what Theo Epstein was
thinking last season with the low-risk, high reward mentality, but the fact of
the matter is that it is nearly impossible to make the transition from the
National League to the American League. Brad Penny and John Smoltz struggled
constantly in every single one of their starts, and it was disappointing. It
was even more frustrating that as soon as they returned to the National League,
they pitched wonderfully. This is not something that could have been
controlled, but I think that the Red Sox learned their lesson. So what did they
do to solve this problem? They went out and signed the best free agent pitcher
on the market, John Lackey.

Just
take a look at the rotation that the Red Sox have now. I don’t know what the
order will be yet, but we have Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Clay
Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Tim Wakefield: six quality starters. I think
that the signing of John Lackey cleared a lot of things up for the Red Sox this
offseason. First of all, this gives the Red Sox a lot more flexibility when it
comes to trades. At the beginning of the offseason, the Red Sox were at least
thinking about pursuing the power-hitting first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. At the
beginning of the offseason though, trading Buchholz and a couple of prospects
was not really an option for the Red Sox; with the acquisition of John Lackey,
it is. I’ll get to the whole Adrian Gonzalez thing in a little bit though.

mike cameron.jpg

The
Red Sox certainly allocated the majority of their money towards the acquisition
of Lackey. A five-year, $87.5 million contract doesn’t leave much room for what
would be considered another major acquisition in Jason Bay. I thought that the
four-year $60 million deal that was offered to Bay was quite reasonable. I
don’t think that he is worth more than that, and I’m glad that the Red Sox
aren’t simply throwing money at him. I suppose that he has a reasonable amount
of flexibility though considering he is one of only two premier left-fielder
free agents on the market. Understanding this, the Red Sox went out and signed
a quality outfielder in Mike Cameron. Believe me, I know that he is no Jason
Bay, but it’s not like he is bad. He could possibly split time with Jeremy
Hermida (remember that acquisition way back when at the beginning of the
offseason?), and I see this signing as a temporary quick fix.

Thumbnail image for Josh Reddick double.JPG

The
Red Sox have three solid outfield prospects coming up in the next few years.
Some of you may remember Josh Reddick from either Spring Training, or some of
the appearances he made in the Majors this year. There is also Ryan
Westmoreland and Ryan Kalish. These three guys are the reason that the Red Sox
were hesitant to throw money and years at Jason Bay. Keep your eye out for
these guys during Spring Training and the minors next season; they’re going to
be big.

marco scutaro.jpg

The
infield seemed pretty solidified with the acquisition of Marco Scutaro a few
weeks ago, but everything was almost shifted around when the Red Sox were
looking to trade third baseman Mike Lowell to the Texas Rangers for catcher Max
Ramirez. I know that Mike Lowell is getting old, and I know that the number of
games he has been able to play has been limited due to nagging injuries. But he
still competes. He is still on the highlight reels, he still makes those
amazing grabs at third base, and the man hit .290. To be completely honest, I
think that the Red Sox use him as a scapegoat sometimes. They blame some of
their failures on Mike Lowell’s injuries. It was hard for me to be completely
objective about this Mike Lowell trade since he has been one of my favorite
players growing up. I think he represents everything about baseball that is
good, and that is important during these days in which baseball is constantly
plagued with scandals. I am glad that the trade didn’t go through because I
didn’t like the thought of paying $9 million for a guy that doesn’t even play
for us anymore.

Mike Lowell 4.jpg

The
fact that Mike Lowell did not get traded shifts a few things around as well.
Had he gotten traded, the Red Sox had a few options. They could have gone after
free agent Adrian Beltre, a third baseman from the Seattle Mariners. His asking
price is a bit high, so the $3 million the Red Sox would have saved from Mike
Lowell’s contract would not have done much to help, especially with the recent
signing of John Lackey. The Sox also could have moved Kevin Youkilis across the
diamond and had Casey Kotchman, a nearly impeccable defensive first baseman,
playing full time at first. Now that Mike Lowell is staying, the question is
where he will play. I still think he is a perfect capable third baseman, so I
don’t think that the Red Sox should have him experiment with playing first
base, a position he has never played in his 12-year career. Perhaps he could
serve as an intermittent designated hitter, but I think that he is most
effective when he is contributing on the field. I know there is reason to be
skeptical of Mike Lowell’s defense, especially since he needs thumb surgery. I
think the best course of action is to see how Mike Lowell looks during Spring
Training, and go from there. If the Red Sox are still interested in trading
him, they can try again next year.

The Red Sox are obviously focusing on pitching and defense,
especially the latter considering the Red Sox were ranked second to last as far
as defense goes. I find it interesting that they look to trade Lowell because
of his supposed lack of defensive range, even though his worst defensive year
with the Sox was 2007, when injuries were not a concern. I really think that
everyone needs to have more faith in him.

I think that the Red Sox have been really smart this
offseason in not offering huge contracts to players because we have so many
guys in the farm system, and that system is something that we have absolutely
no reason to doubt. Think about it: we signed Scutaro for two years, Cameron
for two years, and Wakefield for two years. In two years, guys like Jose
Iglesias, the outfield prospects I have mentioned, and Casey Kelly will be
ready.

adriangonzalez.jpg

Back
to Adrian Gonzalez. This trade is certainly something we should consider, but I
don’t think we should consider it this winter. Let’s let this defensive
makeover play out, and if we need an offensive-pick-me-up, fine, let’s trade
for Adrian Gonzalez at the trade deadline next year. He could be what Victor
Martinez was this year. The only down side to this is that we would have to
give up a lot for talent like his, and Jed Hoyer, the new GM for the Padres
isn’t going to give him up for nothing. After all, he did work with Theo
Epstein for a while. What would the Red Sox have to give up? Clay Buchholz has
been in rumors forever, and more recently, so has the star center fielder,
Jacoby Ellsbury. Much as I may not like trading Buchholz after everything that
he has done, and all of the potential that he clearly possesses, the Red Sox
have the flexibility to sign him. The thing that concerns me more is Jacoby
Ellsbury. I thought that Epstein has made it clear that Ellsbury was our center
fielder of the future. 2009 was a big year for Ellsbury because he developed
into a prototypical leadoff man, and continued to be a fabulous defensive
center fielder. Not to mention stealing home against the New York Yankees. This
is why I think the Red Sox need to wait on trading for Gonzalez: we don’t want
to over or underestimate our potential. 

15 Comments

You guys must be very pleased to have John Lackey AND Mike Cameron. Mike was a fan favorite when he was with the Padres for two years. It’s going to be interesting where Adrian is gonna end up whether with the Red Sox or the Padres. I would love Jacboy Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz in San Diego. Both of them are such talented players. But I know Adrian has to go somehow if we get them.
http://hyunyoung.mlblogs.com

You guys have perhaps the best 1-2-3 out of anybody in the AL except for maybe my yankees. I dont think that the Padres would give up A-Gonz even it was for Ellsburry, Bucholtz, and Casey Kelly.

Vig
http://yankeeholics.mlblogs.com

Hey, Elizabeth, I hope you are doing well with that physics! Not my best subject, but it was more fun than biology, for me anyhow! :)
Good assessment of the off-season moves. I would have liked it if J-Bay had taken the offer we gave him, but I think Theo was right not to move off that offer, and to move on with Hermida and Cameron. Yes, it probably is a stop-gap, but it will at least be adequate for now.
I am SO happy the Lowell deal fell through. As I’ve said before, wrong deal, wrong time. We don’t need a 3rd string catcher if we are going to trade Lowell (I still hope we don’t)–we need something more than that for the exchange.
I’d LIKE to see Adrian Gonzalez come here, but I would not put Ellsbury in any trade pkg.. Buchholz, probably yes, depending on the rest of the pkg.. Not with Ellsbury also. We don’t need to give up THAT much!
Keep blogging Elizabeth, and have a good holiday! GO SOX!

there’s a nice article at mlbtraderumors.com on what to do with Mike Lowell..

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/12/discussion-what-to-do-with-lowell.html
and i don’t think there will be an Adrian Gonzalez trade this offseason, because supposedly the Padres would be looking for a monster deal (and because Lowell appears to be staying in Beantown; for $12 mil the Red Sox are not just gonna put Lowell on the bench or platoon him; so if he’s the gonna be the full time 3rd baseman, then Youkilis stays at first and any talk of acquiring Gonzalez would be moot at this point)

Wow, the Sox are going to have an amazing top of the rotation next year. I’m jealous! The Phils could have had a great 1-2-3 had they kept Cliff Lee. I am so bummed by that trade! Nonetheless, I imagine a lot of Sox and Yankee fans are happy to see Halladay out of the AL East.
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

the Sox should now be able to once again keep the Yankees down in the pecking order….
Merry Christmas to you and your family, hope you have fun and enjoy…:-)
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

great analysis as always Elizabeth. with Lackey the rotation is solidified and stronger than that of the Yanks even with their addition of Vazquez. It would be exciting to see Gonzalez in Boston, but I hope he stays in San Diego. sorry. Just like to see some smaller teams regain their stars. Have a Happy new Year!

http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

I couldn’t imagine the Red Sox trading away Ellsbury. Maybe I’m overvaluing him, but I think he’s definitely one of the best players on your ball club. I enjoy watching him play- except for when he’s playing against us! (The Yankees)

I too don’t think Jason Bay is worth more than about $12 mil a year, which is why I did a double-take when I saw the offer he’s reportedly accepted from the Mets. In fact, I think that’s almost too much. $66 mil for an aging left fielder who strikes out a ton? I don’t know, seems a bit pricey to me.

–Ryan

I Like Mike, He has been huge in much of the recent Red Sox glory.
I hope he has a super season!
Go Red Sox 2010!!!!!

Agree on the I Like Mike comment…looking forward to having Mike Lowell on the squad in 2010! Think he’ll be a great contributor.

http://redsox1027bballcards.mlblogs.com

It will be interesting to see how much the Red Sox are actually going to be willing to give up for Gonzalez if they ever decide that they need him.
http://bronx-awesome.mlblogs.com/

focus on pitching and defense is theo speak for we are gonna suck offensively. the fact is relative to the rest of the league they were fine in terms of pitching and d. and that’s with dice-k injured and having a sub par year. the only team with a significantly better era was seattle. and in terms of defense they made the second fewest errors in the league. how much better can they be? the fact is theo has done absolutely NOTHING to address this teams key issue which is/was offense. probably for the reasons you mentioned above i.e. propspects. he’s content being the second or third best team in b-ball while waiting on said prospects rather than invest in winning now. i wasn’t a huge bay proponent but replacing him cameron and/or hermieda is comical. holliday and/or gonzalez if made available would be the only real difference makers for a team sorely lacking a real power bat in it’s lineup. it’s interesting theo et al say pitching and d win. well last year 4 of the top 5 offensive teams made the playoffs. 4 of the top 5 pitching teams missed the playoffs.

When I read the title I thought ‘wow, this better be the “ultimate” or i’m gonna be disappointed’…. but you came through, Elizabeth! Boo ya!
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

Glad to see that Boston may have finally solved their problem at SS. I saw Scutaro play quite a bit in Toronto last year, and he had a great season both on defense and offense, you guys will love him in Boston.

Mike
http://mikebarryu.mlblogs.com/

great read there. You really are the future Boston Red Sox Blog! Bottom line though the Sox did a great job I think this year. I think Beltre and Cameron are both possible down grades at the plate, but they could also be solid overall upgrades. If you want a player by player breakdown and a good read on A-Gon and JB go to Fenway News from a Red Sox fan!
http://lorcanmccormick.mlblogs.com/

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