Talkin Sox with Dan

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

Archive for the category “Acquisitions”

Just Say No

You sure? Do you really want this?

Because I don’t. And when the pen is about to meet paper — when ink makes things irreversible — you’re not going want Josh Hamilton on the Red Sox. If you have the money to purchase a new, reliable vehicle with all of the bells and whistles, what’s the point of going out and buying a fancy used car? Sure, she’s good to look at, parked in the driveway — but once you put her on the road, she breaks down. Hamilton — simply put — is a poor investment.

But man, he is fun to watch.

Hamilton gave me goosebumps in 2008 when he slugged 28 majestic long balls in the first round of the Home Run Derby at Old Yankee Stadium. I’ve see him do his work in person. And I’m pretty sure the ball he hit at Fenway this past April jusssssst landed. He is great.

I really mean that. The man has that Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax sort of greatness about him. It’s appointment viewing. It’s Pedro Martinez every fifth day. Your bathroom breaks revolve around when guys like Hamilton are due to hit. And yet, there is something about him that brings him closer to us as fans that most professional athletes do not have.

Hamilton is critically flawed. He is an addict. He has battled both drugs and alcohol. He’s open about it. The big left handed hitter looks like an NFL tight end. He is 6’4″ and weighs the best part of 250 pounds. Hamilton is larger than life.

But he is uniquely human.

Can you relate to Derek Jeter? I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what it’s like to win multiple World Series titles. I have no clue what it’s like to date stars like Mariah Carey or Minka Kelly. I wish I had an idea of what it is like to have a well-deserved squeaky-clean image.

But I don’t. And neither does Hamilton. I’m willing to bet you don’t either.

It’s not to say that guys like Jeter don’t have their issues–they do, trust me. They’re human too. But with Hamilton, it’s different. It just is. And that’s what makes him so incredibly likable. We root for him because we see ourselves in him. Sure, it may not be drugs or alcohol — but it’s something. Maybe it’s cigarettes or junk food. Maybe it’s gambling. I don’t know. But it’s something. We’re not all a gang of Jeter’s.

At the same time, Hamilton is best observed from afar, admired from a distance. He will be 32-years old in May. If his agent has any intelligence whatsoever, he will demand a five-year pact, at least. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Security is vital for this man, for what he has been through, for what is likely to come.

Over the course of the next five seasons, on average, I want Hamilton to play 150 games, slug 35 home runs, get on-base at a .375 clip, drive in 120 runs, play stellar defense, but most of all, stay clean.

But I don’t trust him to do that. And the last thing the Red Sox need is an expensive, difficult to maintain vehicle with high mileage. No matter how pretty it looks.

Going Back to Cali

Carl Crawford was in Pensacola, Fl., on Thursday, awaiting surgery. That day, his left elbow was operated on by Dr. James Andrews. Roughly two days later, Crawford, who is two injury-plagued seasons deep into his seven-year $142MM contract, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers as a piece in a mega-deal that also brought Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the hills of Hollywood.

But don’t get lost in the shuffle. Don’t get caught up in the noise. This nine-player trade was all about one very talented first baseman: Adrian Gonzalez.

The Dodgers and GM Ned Colletti had been sniffing out the former San Diego Padre  since before the trade deadline. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox rebuffed any attempts by the Dodgers to acquire the talented Californian during the month of July, refusing to give up on their hopes of reaching the postseason. As the Sox continued to plummet further in the standings, it became easier for front office members to recognize the need to do something that would drastically alter the path that this team was on.

Then Friday came, and Gonzalez was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers.

Then Beckett.

It is true that at this juncture the Red Sox could have simply pulled Gonzalez back off of waivers and, as long as Beckett waived his 10-5 rights, washed their hands clean of the much-maligned right handed pitcher. When the Dodgers plucked him off of the waiver wire, the Texas native and the remaining two-plus years of his contract at roughly $16MM a pop was officially their problem.

But that isn’t what happened.

Instead, Cherington (and Larry Lucchino) saw an opportunity, an avenue to bolster a farm system bereft of quality starting pitching prospects and gain a plethora of financial flexibility. The player who would pave this road was none other than Gonzalez. It is important to make one thing abundantly clear–the Dodgers would not have assumed the contracts of both Beckett and Crawford without including Gonzalez, let alone sending two of their top three pitching prospects back East. Gonzalez is what made this deal happen.

When the dust settled, roughly $260MM dollars was shipped from Boston to Los Angeles in the form of Crawford, Beckett, Gonzalez, and Punto. In return, the Red Sox received first baseman James Loney, pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, and two position-player prospects Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Jerry Sands. (In the interest of being accurate, De La Rosa and Sands are believed to be the two “players to be named later”. This will not become official until after the season as they were placed on waivers and did not clear them). For now, the former Dodgers farmhands are just names to most fans, but there is a truckload of both legitimate talent and potential sprinkled among the Red Sox’ haul. The real prize for the Sox, however, is the financial breathing room that has been afforded to them.

Digest this–Crawford signed a seven-year $142MM contract. To put that in perspective, the left handed hitter who relies on his legs will be 35-years old in the final year of his contract, making $21MM. It’s a ridiculous figure for a player with Crawford’s skill set who is in his prime and unquestionably healthy–never mind the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery less than a week ago.

To say that Crawford’s personality did not mesh with the pressures that come with playing the game of baseball in the city of Boston would be an understatement. And now, that is no longer a problem of the Red Sox.

Beckett’s situation is different. He is the middle of a four-year contract extension that was given to him in 2010 by former GM Theo Epstein. He has succeeded and, at times, thrived in Boston. It may be hard for some fans to admit, but Beckett is a postseason hero, a linchpin of the 2007 World Series Championship.

But times have changed. Beckett is no longer the committed competitor he once was. He has evolved into the face of what is wrong with the Red Sox. Whether that is fair or unfair, he undoubtedly has done nothing to disprove that assertion. More importantly, he is owed roughly $32MM over the next two-plus years, and his fastball is sitting at a diminishing  91 MPH. And now, that is no longer a problem of the Red Sox.

Going forward, the Red Sox have an absolute ton of money at their disposal. According to Alex Speier of WEEI, the Red Sox have gone from around $100MM in locked up, guaranteed dollars to $39MM in 2013 (not including arbitration eligible or pre-arbitration eligible players). The 2013 free agent market is not exactly flush with talent, however.

It will be vital for the Red Sox not to succumb to old habits–signing a player to a lucrative, long-term contract just because he is the best available option. Not only is it bad way of conducting business, but it is lazy way of conducting business. Cherington certainly sounds like he is willing to put in the work.

“Find value in the market. Find the best opportunities. You’ve got to find players that fit your roster and your team, find the players that are going to deliver the best performance on the field in Boston and try to find those using resources in the most efficient way.”

Because of the blockbuster trade that became official over the weekend, Cherington and the Red Sox will have financial and roster flexibility to reconstruct one of the premier franchises in baseball.

They can thank Gonzalez for that.

Dethroned

It was October 29, 2007, and the best pitcher on the planet was Josh Beckett.

The strong right handed starter had just collected his second World Series title the night before as the Red Sox completed their sweep of the Rockies. Beckett did not pitch in the clinching game but to say he had done his part in the 2007 postseason would have been a dramatic understatement.

In his four starts during the playoffs, the Sox ace absolutely stuffed the opposition. He went 4-0, tossed 30 innings, fanned 35 batters, and walked two. This guy from Texas was tough. No sarcasm. Just ask the Angels, Indians, and Rockies.

The former second overall pick did not win the Cy Young Award. He was not deemed the MVP of the World Series. But Beckett won the Red Sox a championship. Boston had an excellent team that season, but the kid from Spring, Texas, drove the bus. He was the man.

A lot has changed in just under five years.

The deadline to make a trade is at 4 p.m. today, and the majority of Red Sox followers would rejoice if GM Ben Cherington found a way to move Beckett, a guy who once sat upon the throne of baseball in Boston.

I don’t believe the much-maligned former ace will find himself in a different city this time on Wednesday. There are just too many hurdles to leap. Beckett is a 10-5 guy. He is owed over $30MM over the course of the next two-plus seasons. Teams have serious and warranted concerns about his attitude. It doesn’t help that the former Marlin is in the middle of an exceptionally mediocre 2012 campaign (5-9, 4.57 ERA). Beckett is not easy freight to move.

The disciples of 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Michael Felger and most Red Sox fans for that matter would advocate brass eating a large chunk of Beckett’s salary in an attempt to expedite the departure of the heavily criticized right hander. The argument comes down to a very simple question: Is Beckett part of the solution or part of the problem? Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as the inquiry.

For me, Beckett is not obviously part of the solution enough to stand firmly against the idea of moving him. In other words, I would be okay with shipping him to another team–only if the Red Sox did not carry the responsibility of paying any of his remaining salary, for this year and beyond. I’m not stupid enough to ask for a prized prospect in return for a guy who is playing under Beckett’s contractual status and not performing at a high level. At the same time, I’m unwilling to make Beckett the scapegoat for all that is wrong with the Boston Red Sox.

Beckett’s departure from this team is not the elixir that the masses crave. Trading the polarizing righty will not erase the bad signings that this organization has made over the course of the past 5-7 years. Getting rid of the Texas Tough Guy will not solve the communication issues that plague the Red Sox. Believe it or not, trading Beckett will not make Jon Lester locate his fastball any better.

Whether the 2007 postseason hero is with this team tomorrow or not, the Red Sox face a plethora of problems that run deeper than the right arm of Beckett. But no matter what, he will never regain the status he once had five years ago.

No Thanks

Bullet dodged.

Hanley Ramirez is immensely talented. He is young. He is under team control for the next two and a half years. He’s making big money, but it’s not a price tag that would make you projectile vomit. But trust me when I say this, he is most literally the exact opposite of what this Red Sox team needs.

Ramirez does not pitch deep into games. He does not know how to locate his fastball, especially on the inner third or even just off of the plate. He can’t match up with C.C. Sabathia, David Price, or Justin Verlander. He is not a quality top half of the rotation pitcher.

Ramirez is, however, selfish and immature, two characteristics that the Red Sox need to be moving away from, not inviting in. When rumors began to surface that the Red Sox were interested in potentially acquiring the shortstop/third baseman, I immediately shook my head.

No thanks.

Just like another Ramirez we all know well, Hanley was traded to the Dodgers. He will likely succeed (at least for a period of time) on the West Coast, but soon enough, LA will be searching for an exit strategy. And like all super-talented players, Ramirez will have plenty of suitors. Let’s hope that the Red Sox are never one of them.

Red Sox Trade Talk

In a three team deal made last season, the Red Sox acquired Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners. The Sox shipped Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, and Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers who sent Trayvon Robinson back east. Robinson wasn’t a member of the Sox for long as he and Chih-Hsien Chiang headed to Seattle while Bedard joined a staff in Boston that had been limping along.

Bedard was not the sturdy crutch the Red Sox rotation desperately needed. The Sox missed the playoffs, due in large part to their inability to find quality outings from their starters. As the trade deadline approaches, the Red Sox find themselves in a similar position–a World Series offense and a Little League World Series starting pitching staff.

One could argue that last year’s version of the Red Sox was much better positioned to qualify for postseason play. I’m not going to debate facts, but the point is that this year’s team, like the 2011 squad, is in the thick of the playoff hunt, despite the bed-wetting that occurred at Fenway Park over the weekend. And if the members of the Red Sox front office believe that this team is one piece away from making the postseason, I would appreciate it if they would bring in a better starter than a soft lefty with bad knees who is on the back nine of his career.

Matt Garza would be an ideal addition. Unfortunately, there are a number of things that muddy the trade waters for not only the Red Sox, but many soon-to-be active teams around baseball. The complicating agent at work here is of course baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement. But that is a story for a different day.

Let’s take a look at what we can glean from how the Red Sox approach this year’s trade deadline.

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Could the Red Sox actually be sellers?

The short answer here is an emphatic ‘no’. It’s not easy for a big market team that plays in front of a demanding fan base to begin to auctioning off pieces. The current ownership current group is obsessed with sellout streaks and commemorative bricks. It’s easier to push the product when their team is successful, or at least operating under the cloak of success. Yes, the Red Sox may be a .500 ball club, in last place in their division, and looking up at six teams in an expanded Wild Card race, but I wouldn’t look for brass to make a move that would end up qualifying the team as sellers. If the Red Sox end up going 0-6 on their road trip that will send them into the Texas heat and back north to play the Yankees, however, it may force the organization to hold a mirror up to its face and take stock of reality.

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Ben Cherington’s first crack at the deadline

The first-year GM had the right idea when he sent Jed Lowrie to the Astros for Mark Melancon and Josh Reddick to the A’s for Andrew Bailey in the offseason, but neither deal has proved to be wildly successful. Cherington will always be compared to his predecessor, Theo Epstein, who may be most well-known for the 2004 deadline deal that shipped one of Boston’s most beloved sports figures, Nomar Garciaparra, to Chicago. The three team swap netted he Red Sox Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts, and Doug Mientkiewicz. A historic comeback and a World Series championship later, and all of a sudden, Cherington has his work cut out for him.

It would not be an absurd deduction to think that Cherington would be conservative during his first trade deadline as GM, especially given the climate of the market–everyone’s in it and no one is out of it. It is a seller’s market. However, Cherington was part of the team in the fall of 2005 that pulled the trigger on the deal that brought Josh Beckett to Boston and sent prized prospect Hanley Ramirez to the then Florida Marlins. Epstein was on leave at the time. So what does this mean for the Red Sox, seven years later? It’s clear that Cherington isn’t afraid of parting with young, top tier talent if an opportunity to improve presents itself.

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Gauging how the team feels about its minor league assets

If Cherington and his team determine that Jon Lester and Beckett are capable of turning their lackluster seasons around, it would be reasonable to believe that they view the Red Sox as a playoff team. The second half of that contingency is necessary in order for the Sox to pursue a deadline deal. You’re typically not going to move young talent in the middle of the season if your team does not possess a real opportunity to play beyond the month of September.

For the sake of this argument, let’s assume that the Red Sox view themselves as legitimate contenders and will look to add a piece or two next week. Matt Barnes and Xander Bogaerts are two blue chips prospects in the Red Sox system that would certainly garner interest from GM’s across baseball.

Matt Barnes is a starting pitcher currently at High-A Salem. He is 22-years old, throws hard, and represents exactly what the Red Sox desperately need–a low cost, front half of the rotation starter. I can’t imagine him being moved.

Xander Bogaerts is the cream of the crop on the Red Sox farm. He is 19-years old, plays shortstop, and projects as a middle of the order hitter. He is 2012’s version of Hanley Ramirez. The Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson does not see Bogaerts going anywhere.

MacPherson’s response is an indication of exactly how the organization feels about Bogaerts, and it is extremely likely that Cherington isn’t the only general manager who views the native of Aruba in that same light. Needless to say, Bogaerts carries a truckload of value on the market.

Ultimately, I agree with MacPherson. The Red Sox are not likely to include Bogaerts’ name on a list of prospects that another ball club can pick from when negotiating a potential trade. However, the only caveat is that the Sox possess three quality young players who play on the left side of the infield. Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Jose Iglesias could eventually be vying for two spots in the Red Sox infield. Bogaerts is a player who could become at least somewhat expendable if the Red Sox had confidence in Iglesias’ ability to hit at the major league level. I don’t, so I can’t believe they do either.

Going forward, even beyond this year’s trade deadline, it will be interesting to monitor the availability of both Iglesias and Bogaerts. If one guy’s name is consistently tied to potential trades, it would simultaneously serve as a testament to the confidence that the organization has in the other player.

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My thoughts

It is starting to sound redunant, but it is true: If the Red Sox do not get drastically better performances from Lester and Beckett, they will not seriously contend as the season progresses. In that respect, the trade deadline is almost meaningless in terms of its potential impact on the 2012 season. Garza, tricep cramping aside, would be a solid pick-up. He is young. He would not be a rental as he is signed through next season. He is a guy that would come here and compete his butt off. But without Lester and Beckett pitching up to their expectations, Garza’s efforts would not propel them into October.

So Sick of Roy Oswalt

Update — 2:50PM Roy Oswalt is not a member of the Boston Red Sox. He isn’t a Cardinal or a Ranger either. It sounds like he may lean towards signing on with a team in the middle of the season. Can’t wait.

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If I have to post about Roy Oswalt again this offseason, I’ll be damned if I have to include another photo of him. The shot of Carl Crawford and Bobby Valentine coming together earlier this week in Fort Myers is much more appealing. (“Hey! You owe me five!”).

Jim Bowden of ESPN tweeted yesterday that Oswalt’s decision on where he will play in 2012 could come as early as today. Close to a month ago, I wrote that Oswalt was likely heading to St. Louis. So much for that.

At this point, it’s nearly impossible to guess to where this guy is going to end up. Texas, St. Louis, and Boston have all expressed interest at one time or another. The former two have roster and financial restrictions that have served as roadblocks in terms of acquiring Oswalt. An Oswalt-Red Sox marriage almost makes too much sense.

Bowden’s tweet certainly infers that Oswalt has several different options to choose from. I’m not so sure that’s the case, but who knows? It is not clear if GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox even have an offer on the table to Oswalt. However, when the veteran right handed starting pitcher opens his front door today in Mississippi, the Red Sox may be in the only team waiting on the doorstep. Either way, we’ll keep you posted.

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.

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.

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.

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