Talkin Sox with Dan

Where baseball fans gather for commonsensical, opinionated Red Sox banter.

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Odds and Ends

Let’s a take a quick look at a few pieces of news that could, maybe, kind of, one day…affect the Red Sox.

  • Roy Oswalt met with members of the Rangers front office yesterday. Naturally, there is no real news to report from the meeting. It is going to come down to St. Louis or Texas and which team is able to make the necessary roster changes to accommodate the right handed starter. Just as TSWD reported on Saturday, there are a few factors that will play in to Oswalt’s decision. The Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported yesterday that the Red Sox are not out of the Oswalt sweepstakes yet. But let’s be real. It ain’t happenin’.
  • The New York Post’s Joel Sherman tweeted that former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen signed a minor league contract with the Yankees yesterday. While a member of the Red Sox, Delcarmen had an electric fastball, but it traveled very, very straight. He last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2010. Delcarmen is from West Roxbury.
  • GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox have not closed the door on reaching an agreement with Alfredo Aceves and David Ortiz to avoid arbitration hearings. According to weei.com’s Alex Speier, however, the Red Sox are preparing to go to arbitration in case deals with both players are not reached. The Sox came in at $900,000 for Aceves, and the righty countered at $1.6MM. Cherington and the Red Sox offered Ortiz a one-year deal worth $12.65MM. The big lefty filed at $16.5MM for his annual salary. That is a significant gap. I hate the idea of the Red Sox going to an arbitration hearing with a sensitive guy like Ortiz. Let’s hope a compromise is reached before a hearing takes place.
  • No news on the Theo Epstein compensation situation. It is in Commissioner Bud Selig’s hands. Both teams have submitted names to the league’s front office, and a resolution could come soon. Reports have surfaced that at least one executive believes that Selig will send a quality player or two from Chicago to Boston in an attempt to keep GM’s like Epstein from switching organizations before their contract expires. Reports did not state if that unknown executive was an overly optimistic Red Sox fan.

Step Aside, Wake

Photo courtesy of bigleaguescrew.com

Tim Wakefield is just hanging out, waiting to see if the Red Sox will give him a call.

I don’t believe the phone is going to ring.

Nevertheless, in a story that ran in Florida Today, Wakefield stated what we all already know: He wants seven more victories so he can overtake Roger Clemens as the Red Sox all-time leader in wins.

“I think I can be a valuable asset to them [Red Sox] as an insurance policy, you know a fifth or sixth starter or if something doesn’t pan out for some of the guys they have already penciled in to the rotation,” Wakefield said. “You know that’s kind of been my job these last two years; I don’t have a problem doing that.”

In other words: “I know I’m not very good anymore, but I’d like to pad my stats, if that’s cool.”

Wake hasn’t exactly seen a ton of success since taking over as the Red Sox swingman. In the past two years, the knuckleballer has averaged a robust ERA of 5.23. He is 45 years old. I know that knuckleball pitchers don’t follow the same rules as your run-of-the-mill hurlers, but we have seen the best of Wakefield. There isn’t much left. That is a fact.

Can today’s version of Number 49 help the Red Sox win a championship? I mean, that’s really all we care about.

I don’t believe he can. GM Ben Cherington has to decide whether what Wakefield brings to the table is worth more than the roster spot he takes up. Wake would not be my first choice to spot start, and his often erratic knuckleball basically excludes him from coming out of the bullpen to pitch in a big spot. Anyone can throw a few mop-up frames in a blowout.

According to a tweet from the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber, Bobby Valentine could not envision Wakefield coming to Spring Training and competing for a job. He made similar comments about Jason Varitek. Both players are in similar situations. They are revered in Boston and would not receive the same sort of ceremonious end to their career if they played for a different organization.

In a perfect world, Varitek and Wakefield would announce their retirement from baseball and be on hand for the Opening Day ceremonies this year. They would go out with class and grace like Jorge Posada.

Something tells me that that is not going to happen.

However, I will not be a happy Red Sox fan if they decide to bring Wakefield back and sell it as a “you can never have enough pitching” sort of move. We would all know that it would be a decision designed to let Wakefield limp his way to seven ugly wins, stand for a few ovations, and sell a truckload of merchandise commemorating him as the franchise’s leader in victories.

I like Wakefield a lot. But I like winning ballgames more.

Oswalt May be Heading to St. Louis

Image via homeruncards.com

According to Mark Polishuk of mlbtraderumors.com, free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt will likely be toeing the rubber for the Cardinals next season. Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio was the first to tweet the news last night. In his tweet, Duquette included that the Red Sox and Astros were still involved. Although nothing is official, I find it extremely hard to believe that Oswalt will be heading north to Boston or back his original team, the Astros. Just as TSWD wrote earlier this week, Oswalt, despite being in the latter half of his career and coming off of a year where he suffered from back issues, does reserve a fair amount of selectivity concerning the team he pitches for in 2012. St. Louis just makes the most sense.

A Mississippi native, Oswalt will be close to home if when the righty signs on with the 2011 World Champion Cardinals. Have the Cards lost their best player, a guy who will be talked about in the same breath as Stan Musial? Sure. Are they still an extremely good team that plays in a lackluster division? You bet. By joining the Cardinals, Oswalt will join a staff that includes Chris Carpenter (a TSWD favorite–guy’s a total gamer) and Jaime Garcia. Oh, and Adam Wainwright. Remember him? Yeah, he’s the guy that finished second in Cy Young Award voting in 2010 before undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. Oswalt will serve as a quality veteran presence in an already-quality pitching staff.

When analyzing Oswalt’s not-yet-official decision to join the Cardinals, it’s vital to take a look at the teams that were interested in his services. I’m not going to discuss the Astros’ involvement because I have no idea where their motivation is coming from–maybe sentimentality. Who knows? Two teams needed Oswalt (for argument’s sake, Oswalt’s name is interchangeable with ‘a relatively-quality starting pitcher’). The Red Sox and Tigers have question marks in their rotation. Oswalt would have filled a vacancy for both teams. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the one-year offer that Oswalt declined from the Tigers was worth close to $10MM. The offer from GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox was likely closer to half of that figure. Clearly, money is not the motivation for Oswalt.

Location is the driving force.

St. Louis or Texas? The World Champs or Mike Maddux? Each destination is appealing to the 34 year old. Both teams possess deep staffs that really do not need Oswalt. In fact, each team would likely have to make some sort of move to accommodate Oswalt. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com offers a few creative explanations that would provoke them to pursue signing Oswalt. Texas would have likely had to move a guy like Alexi Ogando to the bullpen to create space for the right handed starter.

So where does this leave the Red Sox?

Edwin Jackson is still on the market. Sox fans need to come to the realization that the Red Sox are not going to overextend themselves for a starter. Jackson reportedly has more than one multi-year deal on the table. It is natural to believe that Scott Boras and his client would jump on three-year offer from a team like the Orioles. However, next year’s free agent class could prove to be more lucrative for Jackson. So, wouldn’t it make sense for Jackson to accept a one-year contract with the Red Sox? Not so fast.

Sure, Boras and Adrian Beltre were able to successfully parlay a productive 2010 campaign with the Red Sox into a long-term big money contract with the Rangers. He was a hitter playing in the AL East, however. Jackson could be conceivably pitching into the wind against an offensively potent division if he were to sign on with the Sox. Again, we run into the same problem we faced when we put ourselves in Oswalt’s position: Why, as a pitcher, come to AL East when the objective is to boost one’s value in an impending free agent market?

The Red Sox acquired some financial flexibility after the Marco Scutaro trade. That cannot be taken away. Time will tell whether the Sox choose to exercise that money now or at the trade deadline. No matter what, however, the success of the Scutaro deal is dependent upon Cherington’s ability to add a starting pitcher sometime between now and the beginning of August.

Friday’s Notes

Photo via gaiaonline.com

  • It sounds like J.D. Drew is going to retire from baseball. But even if he chooses to play another year, it certainly won’t be with the Red Sox. Thanks to this guy, we know that Drew’s number won’t be immediately retired.
  • According to the Globe’s Peter Abraham, Kevin Youkilis knew early on that the Red Sox clubhouse wasn’t quite right: “It was very different,’’ said Youkilis. “It was noticeable early, but when you win, winning heals all the wounds. But we definitely didn’t have the right attitude in a lot of ways.” Youkilis hosted a charity event for Youk’s Kids yesterday. Keep in mind that the majority of the same team will be back in 2012. It will be up guys like Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia to be sure that the Red Sox assume the right attitude. They need to have each others’ backs. I’m sure Bobby Valentine will drive that point home throughout Spring Training and into the season.
  • Via Twitter, Nick Cafardo is reporting that as of last night the Red Sox and Edwin Jackson were not close on a deal.

Checking in on a Thursday Evening

Just some notes concerning the Red Sox and some activity around baseball.

  • Bobby Valentine continued his crusade around New England today where I’m confident he will end up meeting every single one of the six states’ constituents. He made several stops, meeting with police officers, fire fighters, and members of the Coast Guard. The Globe’s Peter Abraham went along for the ride. I’m usually relatively pessimistic when it comes to these things, but for some reason, I don’t believe that Valentine’s efforts are at all contrived. Now, I don’t actually believe that these appearances necessarily are a precursor to any sort of success in the dugout, but I still dig it. Say what you want about the guy, but he one tireless individual.
  • In case you want to size-up Valentine in-person, NESN and the Red Sox will host a “town hall style” meeting at Worcester Technical High School this coming Wednesday. GM Ben Cherington will be there with Valentine to field questions from the public. TSWD will be there. I’m all for events that are down the road, free, and provide a unique opportunity to potentially embarrass myself.
  • Andrew Bailey and the Red Sox avoided arbitration yesterday, agreeing to a one year deal worth $3.9MM. He will likely be the Opening Day closer when the Sox play in Detroit on April 5. Jonathan Papelbon will make slightly over $11MM in 2012. Say what you want about the Red Sox and their lack of spending this offseason, but that’s just solid work by a first-year GM.
  • Cody Ross is officially a member of the Red Sox. Scott Atchison was designated for assignment to make room for the right handed hitting outfielder, according to Boston Globe.
  • Just as TSWD blogged yesterday, Roy Oswalt does not want the Red Sox the way the Red Sox want Roy Oswalt. Don’t blame him. There are other teams that are closer to home and face less difficult competition on a night in and night out basis. Sure,Boston is a good place to go if you want to compete for a championship, but so is Texas or St. Louis.
  • Via Twitter, Nick Cafardo is reporting that the Red Sox are one of several teams that Edwin Jackson is willing to accept a one-year deal to pitch for. I won’t be heartbroken if the Sox don’t end up withJackson, but I will be disappointed. In order for the Marco Scutaro trade to be viewed as a wise decision, signing a quality starting pitcher is important essential.
  • Signing overweight, defensively not-so-great first baseman to nine-year deals is never wise.
  • But neither are sever-year deals for players who don’t get on-base as often as you think and rely on their legs.
  • Is there any chance the Red Sox could leave the American League entirely and just play in the NL Central? Please?

Cody Ross and the State of the Red Sox

Photo via dailycaller.com

Marco Scutaro is gone. Cody Ross is in. The former NLCS MVP has reportedly agreed to sign a one-year $3MM deal with the Red Sox. Nothing official has come from the Red Sox, but Ross seems pretty confident that he will be a member of the Red Sox in 2012. Before getting into the implications of this signing, let’s first simply react.

If someone told me three months ago that Ross would be a member of the 2012 Red Sox team, I would have been very, very excited (still am). Ross is 31 years old and can play all three outfield positions. He hits from the right side and has a smooth .282/.349/.563 career line against left handed pitching. Ideally, he will serve as a platoon player in right field. Ryan Sweeney is an excellent defensive outfielder, but like many of the Red Sox hitters, is left handed. Ross will serve as a nice compliment to Sweeney. With Carl Crawford likely to miss at least a handful of games in the early part of the season, Ross will see a great deal of playing time, presumably in left field. He just really comes off as a team-first guy who is primed to be a fan favorite.

The signing of Ross comes after the Red Sox unloaded close to $8MM (luxury tax purposes) in the Scutaro trade to the Rockies. Immediately after that trade was completed, it seemed obvious that the Red Sox would ink Roy Oswalt to a one-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $8MM. That has not happened yet. Instead, the Red Sox have allocated at least $3MM towards outfield depth (Ross’ deal may also includes some nice production-based incentives). The argument naturally turns to what have the Red Sox sacrificed to gain a platoon outfielder and where do they go from here.

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Robbing Peter to pay Paul

It is not like the Red Sox to dump salary in the form of a useful player, especially when that player is slotted to start arguably the most important position on the diamond. Nevertheless, the Sox moved Scutaro in order to gain fiscal flexibility. As of right now, the Red Sox have essentially traded Scutaro for Ross and a starter that will likely begin the year in Pawtucket in the form of Clayton Mortensen. It would be difficult to make an argument that Ross is more valuable than Scutaro. Probably because he isn’t.

Before the trade became official, the Red Sox had two glaring holes. The first being in the bottom of the rotation. Relying on Daniel Bard and a combination of Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves, and Felix Doubront to fill out the latter half of a pitching staff is risky business. The second question mark was in the outfield. Even before Carl Crawford‘s impromptu wrist surgery, the Sox needed to acquire a right handed hitting bat who could play the outfield. Trading Scutaro freed up money, while simultaneously opening yet another vacancy that needed to be addressed. Nick Punto and Mike Aviles are fine players, but I’m not on board with watching those two platoon at shortstop over the course of a 162 game season. After the Scutaro deal and before the Ross agreement, the Red Sox had successfully created a brand new need. Aside from a reliable bottom of the rotation starter and a player to add outfield depth, Boston now needed a steady shortstop. The Ross agreement is all but official, eliminating the need for an outfielder. Essentially, the Red Sox have now traded reliability at the shortstop position for depth in the outfield, as well as some financial flexibility.

Nevertheless, it is important to realize that the Red Sox, before the Scutaro trade and the Ross signing, possessed two noticeable areas that needed to be addressed (outfield depth, quasi-reliable starter). Since those two aforementioned moves have been made, the team still needs to improve in two specific areas (shortstop, quasi-reliable starter). If that’s not treading water, I don’t know what is.

Conventional thinking, however, would lead one to believe that the Sox are not done this offseason. After all, Oswalt is still extremely available to the Red Sox. Or is he?

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If you were Roy Oswalt, would you come to Boston?

I wouldn’t. Oswalt is 34 years old. He is openly seeking a one-year deal worth $8MM. The Mississippi native wants to show teams that his back is healthy, and he is worth a multi-year deal. The AL East is likely the absolute last place a pitcher like Oswalt would want to go. Yes, there is something to be said for playing in a big market and garnering attention that way. It worked for Adrain Beltre, but that does not mean it will work for Oswalt.

If Oswalt could choose the team he pitches for in 2012, I have to believe that it would be in the National League. St. Louis seems like his ideal team. It is relatively close to home and gives the right handed pitcher a better place to succeed than in the offensively stacked AL East. The point is that Oswalt, despite the fact that he’s not seeking anything close to a long-term deal, still reserves some selectivity as to where he ends up in 2012.

According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, Oswalt said ‘no thanks’ to the Tigers earlier this week. Even a call from Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander, didn’t sway Oswalt’s decision. At this point, I’m sure Verlander, along with the rest of Detroit, is more focused on welcoming Prince Fielder than worrying about where Oswalt will end up.

If I’m Cherington, Oswalt is my guy. He was derailed last season by some back issues that limited him to 23 starts. Before that, the righty made at least 30 starts in seven consecutive seasons. Sign me up.

However, Oswalt may not be the best candidate (financially) that fits the needs of Cherington and the Red Sox.

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Why I reluctantly believe that trading for a starter makes sense

I am a guy who always salivates at the idea of signing a one-year deal for virtually any player, especially one like Oswalt who possesses a high upside. There is virtually no risk. If things don’t go well, it is no big dealyou just cut ties. Nevertheless, the Red Sox, like or not, are apparently up against a budget. It revolves around the luxury tax threshold. As a result, Gavin Floyd makes a ton of sense. Let’s first explore why White Sox GM Kenny Williams would want to deal Floyd.

By now, we are all aware of the deal that Fielder inked earlier in the day with the Tigers. Detroit, despite losing Victor Martinez due to injury, is now the obvious favorite in the AL Central. It is certainly possible that the recent addition by the Tigers will motivate Williams to move Floyd. Let’s face it–they’re not winning their division. The White Sox organization has shown that they want to rebuild. Sergio Santos was curiously dealt to the Blue Jays earlier this offseason. John Danks, however, was extended. Mixed signals.

It is tough to gauge exactly where the White Sox are at in terms of their willingness to deal pieces of their pitching staff. It is nearly impossible to pinpoint Williams’ intentions, but nothing has surfaced indicating that Floyd is off the market. Therefore, he is worth discussing.

Floyd is the latter half of a four-year $15.5MM contract. In 2012, he will make $7MM, whether he plays in Chicago or Boston (or anywhere for that matter). The Red Sox are most concerned with the figure that affects the luxury tax, and that number is based on AAV (average annual value). Therefore, Floyd would represent roughly $4MM in luxury tax dollars, despite his 2012 salary. He does have a 2013 option that, if exercised, would vault his AAV to $5MM, roughly. That option is worth $9.5MM.

Attempting to predict Williams’ strategy is almost futile. He is difficult to figure out, but Floyd certainly seems like he is there for the taking. He makes a lot of sense for the Red Sox, as long as they are comfortable giving up a handful of decent prospects. Doubront and Miller are two guys I could see being used as pieces if the Red Sox pursue a trade.

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The Red Sox shortstop situation as it stands today

Jose Iglesias should be the happiest player in the Red Sox organization. The window is open for the highly touted prospect to win the starting shortstop position in Spring Training. He just turned 22 years old and should be drooling over the opportunity.  There is no doubt that Iglesias can field at a Major League level, but he has not offensively performed up to expectations in the minor leagues. I’m anxious and excited to see how Valentine handles Iglesias in Spring Training. I firmly believe that if Iglesias has an overly productive spring, it will be difficult for Cherington/Valentine to place him in Triple-A.

Without the Red Sox adding a veteran infielder that can solidify the shortstop position, Iglesias is simply one solid Spring Training away from being the Opening Day starter for Red Sox.

Catching Our Breath on a Wild Tuesday

My Tuesday sucked. Prince Fielder, Scott Boras, and Tim Lincecum‘s day-after-Monday did not.

One large individual signed on to be the next first baseman for the Tigers. Let’s just say he won’t be working for free. Fielder and the Tigers agreed on a nine-year $214MM, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of mlbtraderumors.com. Prince, whenever you have a chance, Victor Martinez would like a steak dinner, 250 grand, and a twelve pack of the finest lager Detroit has to offer. Thanks.

The next person just resurrected a lackluster offseason. It looked as if his client, Ryan Madson, was going to head back to the Phillies with a more-than-solid four-year $44MM. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Instead the Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. generously gave former Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon a four-year deal worth a cool $50MM. With their metaphorical tail tucked tightly between their legs, Boras and Madson apprehensively agreed to a one-year deal with the Reds for $8.5MM. Cincinnati didn’t exactly have to break the bank. Despite having to navigate through a less-than-booming free agent market, Boras orchestrated the fourth largest contract is baseball history, according to mlbtraderumors.com. I don’t care if I was the guy who filled up the Gatorade in the dugout before games–if I was in baseball in any capacity, Boras would be my agent.

Our last Man of the Day will not go through an arbitration hearing, although it would have been extremely entertaining. Lincecum and the Giants settled on a two-year deal worth $40.5MM. According to mlbtraderumors.com, the only pitchers to have a better WAR (wins above replacement) since 2007 than Lincecum are Roy Halladay, C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Dan Haren. That’s pretty good company. Lincecum and his two Cy Young Awards will stay in San Fran for at least a couple of more years. He is one of about eight legitimate aces around baseball, so he deserves to be raking in the dough.

Either way, beers on you guys

Cody Ross Boston Bound?

You know the stove isn’t very hot when you’re hitting the refresh button to see if Cody Ross has chosen which team he will sign with. I wonder if he’s going to have his own Decision special on ESPN like Lebron James.

The former NLCS MVP is a fine right handed outfielder who hits left handed pitching rather well. The Red Sox shed some payroll after moving Marco Scutaro to the Rockies. For luxury tax purposes, Scutaro freed up close to $8MM. Alex Speier of weei.com does an excellent job explaining this here. So the Sox have some flexibility to add a piece or two. It seems like they’re going to pull the trigger on Ross who represents some much-needed outfield depth in the form of a right haded bat.

It will be interesting to see how a deal for Ross would affect their ability to pursue Roy Oswalt or Gavin Floyd.

Catching up with the Red Sox on a Patriots Sunday

Photo courtesy of pennlive.com

It’s been a quietly busy offseason for GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox. Boston won the Hot Stove League last year with the additions of Carl Crawford through free agency and Adrian Gonzalez via trade. Unfortunately for the 2011 Red Sox, the real hardware isn’t handed out until late October. This winter lacks the glitz and glamor of yesteryear, but Cherington is working under starkly different conditions than former GM Theo Epstein. Cherington is in his first year as General Manager, whereas Epstein had firmly cemented his position as one of the game’s best executives. More importantly, Cherington is working under a relatively tight budget. If Epstein was given $100 by John Henry in 2011, Cherington’s allowance is $10 this year. So far, I have nothing but quality reviews for the first year GM. He has orchestrated two trades that brought the Red Sox quality, low cost arms in Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon. Both players will work to fill vacancies in the bullpen left by Jonathan Papelbon and, presumably, Daniel Bard. Cherington’s latest move is the trade of starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for a pitcher who will likely be in Pawtucket to begin the year. You don’t need to be Peter Gammons to know that this move was purely a salary dump. There has to be another card up Cherington’s sleeve. It would be like Danny Ainge trading for Ray Allen in 2007 and not getting Kevin Garnett. I’m not expecting baseball’s version of the Big Ticket coming to the Red Sox, but I’ll take Roy Oswalt.

I hope everyone enjoys their Sunday as the Patriots shoot for another Super Bowl bid. Meaningful football being played in New England late in January serves as a hell of a distraction during the Red Sox offseason.

Cherington Moving Fast

According to a tweet from FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, the Red Sox are not wasting any time in the wake of dealing Marco Scutaro to the Rockies. GM Ben Cherington has already intensified his pursuit of free agent starting pitcher Roy Oswalt. It makes sense that the Sox will go hard after Oswalt, but I think it’s important to remember that the right handed starter is not the elite pitcher he once was. However, if Cherington is able to pluck the 34 year old off the market, he will anchor the bottom half of the rotation and has a ton of upside.

Continue to check back as TSWD monitors the situation.

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