Red Sox Hot Stove Season

After last year's disappointment, I guess it is not too surprising the Red Sox have had such an active off-season. My biggest fear after 2012 was that the Sox would aggressively overpay for free agents after the Dodgers trade out of a sense of obligation to immediately re-stock. There wasn't really a marquee player available this off-season--Hamilton might have been the best player, and he came with big question marks. Greinke might have been the best player, but there were questions as to how he would perform in Boston's insane media market.

While the Sox haven't given out a mega-contract, they have signed quite a few players to mid-level deals. Here's my rundown in order of appreciation from best to worst.

Joel Hanrahan- A strong acquisition, since the Sox didn't give up a top prospect to acquire their new closer. It will be interesting to see if they can close a deal to keep him, since he is scheduled to become a free agent after 2013.

Ryan Dempster- A two-year deal for a productive middle of the rotation guy. He doesn't quite replace Josh Beckett, even if he takes his place in the rotation. The real question here is whether Dempster can stay healthy at age 35, but he hasn't missed more than a handful of starts since becoming a starter in 2008.

Stephen Drew- There's not much to dislike about this deal. Drew gets a one-year deal for a tolerable 9.5 million. It gives the Sox time for Xander Bogaerts, their current uber-prospect, to mature in double AA. Drew has always played solid defense and is a productive line drive hitter, even if his plate discipline leaves something to be desired.

Mike Napoli- The real question for me is "where will Napoli play?" I must admit, I am not a terribly big fan of Jarrod Saltalamacchia's ability to call a game; I don't think it a coincidence that the pitching staff's ERA went up over a whole run in his first year as the full-time catcher without Jason Varitek around to mentor him (of course, there were other coaching issues with this team last year, too). John Farrell is outstanding at handling pitchers, especially these pitchers, and so perhaps he can improve Salty's game. That said, Salty is still a part of this team, so does that mean that Napoli's primary position will be at first base? His offense numbers are strong for a catcher (.275/.379/.552 over the last two years with Texas), but only mediocre for a first baseman. Still, it looks like the everyday job at first will be his for the next three years (unless Salty gets traded or Papi retires).

Koji Uehara- Uehara's been a solid short reliever for the past 4 years. But he's 38 with a recent history of injury. Hence, a safe one-year deal for just over 4 million. Nothing not to like about this one.

David Ross- With the departure of Shoppach, the Sox needed a back up catcher. Check.

Jonny Gomes- What have we done to deserve this? I don't understand. Gomes isn't a quality fielder. Since turning 30 he's put up a line of .234/.349/.437. He's a strike out machine. Sure, he's got a bit of home run power and the outfield market is pretty weak this off-season. But a 2 year deal? Really? This just makes the Josh Reddick for Andrew Bailey trade look even worse. The worst part--with Ross leaving, he might actually start.

Shane Victorino- O.k., the Gomes acquisition is aggravating. This one is infuriating. The Sox give a player clearly past his prime a 3 year, 39 million dollar contract. Ugh. What is worse: this contract ensures that Ellsbury will be playing his final season in Boston.

Ultimately, I don't think these moves are as critical to the 2013 campaign as the potential resurgence of their established players. John Lester and Clay Buchholz need to demonstrate that last year was an aberration if the Sox are to have any chance of competing. Farrell's hiring should help with this. It would also be help if David Ortiz can rediscover the fountain of youth that returned him to MVP form last season. Perhaps he can share it with his teammates.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It does not matter what the Red Sox did off season or how their record is now. As a Red Sox fan, August and September must be two months you want to rip out of your calendar. I think they will fall in the power house of the AL East. As much as I love the Yankees, I se the Rays beating out the O's for the play offs. I have determined that this will not be the greatest year for being a Yankee fan, how ever we can still hold our heads high with all the injuries to key players. Very few, if any other team could do what the Yanks have done this years.