Tagged: Alex Gonzalez

Start of the off-season.

First off, how do you spell off-season? Off season? Off-season? For that matter, what about power play? Is it power play, power-play or powerplay?

Anyways, ADD moment of the day behind us, the World Series ended six days ago and the Red Sox have started making player/personnel moves. About a month ago, after the Red Sox gracefully left the playoffs (play-offs? play offs? playoffs?), I highlighted some key free agents/player moves for the Red Sox. Here’s what I said, and here’s what has happened so far:

Alex Gonzalez: The Red Sox can pick up Gonzalez’s $6 million
option for next year, try to re-sign him for less money or pursue a
different option at shortstop either internally (Lowrie, Green) or
externally.

I think it was a mistake to let Gonzalez leave
Boston in the first place. Gonzalez is not anything great at the plate,
but his defense more than makes up for his offensive deficiencies.
Gonzalez is a sure-handed shortstop and performed well. Theo Epstein
does not have a great history with shortstops, so with any new
shortstop, there will be a lot of question marks entering the season.
The Red Sox should attempt to sign Gonzalez for less money if at all
possible, but should not get hung up on that avenue. Pick up his option
if he refuses to take less money for more years.

The Red Sox did not pick up Gonzo’s option, but they are trying to sign him for less money. Theo tried and failed to pick up J.J. Hardy from the Brewers, and I’m not sure Hardy would have been great in Boston anyways. He batted .229 last year, but the real interest in him comes from his performance the year before when he .283. He has potential as a 20+ home run hitter, but in a market like Boston where there is always pressure to win now, I’m not sure he would have thrived. I think the Red Sox should attempt to bring Gonzalez back on a $3-4 million per year, 2 or 3 year deal. It’s cheap, provides some years, and brings back a player who has shown that he can perform well enough in Boston.

Tim Wakefield: Wakefield is scheduled to have back surgery this postseason. The Red
Sox have infinite one-year options for him. Wakefield could also retire
or join a different team.

I think the Red Sox need to wait
it out on Wake. Unless his back problems completely disappear for at
least a few months, they should not re-sign Wakefield. There are a few
starting pitchers in the minor leagues (work on Bowden) and some
quality pitchers the Red Sox could pursue trades for that are more
dependable and less injury prone than Wakefield.

I think the Red Sox just made a mistake on Wakefield. They just signed him on for two more years. He will make $3.5 million this coming season, and $1.5 million next season, and he has incentives based on number of starts and innings pitched. Granted, with the knuckleball, it seems like Wakefield can pitch forever. However, he is turning 44 next season and there is no solid proof that his back will be able to handle another two seasons of baseball post-surgery. Perhaps if they had signed this deal in February or March after he had really worked out and gotten himself into season shape, I would not be so doubtful, but I just do not believe that Wakefield can endure the stress of the season at his age.

Jason Varitek: The Red Sox can pick up his $5 million team option, welcome him back under his $3 million player option, watch him go elsewhere or invite him back as a coach.

I
love Jason Varitek and he has been my favorite player for years now.
That said, he is in the midst of a steady decline. Catchers have
shorter careers, and at 38 years old by the start of next season, there
is no reason to believe that Varitek will improve or even maintain his
status quo. He has been abysmal at throwing runners out at second and
cannot hit consistently well anymore. Varitek is, however, fantastic
with pitching staffs and fellow catchers. Victor Martinez has done
nothing but talk about how helpful Varitek has been for him. The Red
Sox should encourage him to retire and return to the Red Sox as either
a pitching or catching coach for next season.

The Red Sox made a huge move yesterday regarding Varitek. They declined Varitek’s player option and announced Victor Martinez will be the starting catcher in 2010. Varitek can still come back to the team on a $3 million player option, which, if he wants to play for the maximum amount of money, he should probably do. Varitek will not find that type of money anywhere else. The bottom line is that Varitek is an aging catcher who is not starting to decline, but rather is deep in the throes of the end-of-career drop-off. If Varitek wants a starting catching job, he will go elsewhere, but I don’t know what team would pick him up as a starting catcher. It would be best for Varitek to just call it a career and come back as a coach. This is painful to watch, and though I love Varitek, he cannot throw out runners, hit, or catch the way he used to. It’s time for him to say thanks for the memories and gracefully bow out.

Today should be an interesting day in Red Sox Nation. If Varitek does not make a decision today, he will make one in the next few days, so expect an announcement on him soon. The GM meetings are in full force, and Cashman is already making statements about how the Yankees are the “team of the decade” purely because they won in 2009. I guess the failures of 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and the missed playoffs in 2002 and 2008 mean nothing when you win the last World Series of the decade. Cashman also mentioned that history means nothing, it’s all about the here and now, so I guess we won’t be hearing anything about 27 World Series championships from the Yankees. Good to know.

Have a great week, all!

Start of the Off-season

Now that I have pulled myself away from the edge of the Zakim Bridge, it is time to begin off-season fodder.

I knew the Red Sox would not win the series against the Angels. I was optimistic in thinking that they would at least make it to a Game Five, but the truth is this team was as good as done once they went 8-13 in their first 21 games post-All Star Game. The issues against the Angels (a spotty bullpen, no hitting, shaky starting rotation) were all problems that every Red Sox fan saw throughout the season. The Angels were a better team and had more drive last week. The Red Sox looked dead.

Boston.com, in an attempt to get Bostonians past Papelbon’s blown save, posted a survey about hot issues for Red Sox management in the off season. I voted on them there and I’ll explain them here.

jason_bay.jpgpicture from mysportsrumors.com

Jason Bay: The Red Sox can either re-sign Bay or pursue a different free agent.

The Red Sox’s top priority this season should be finding a way to re-sign Bay. Though not often reflected in statistics, Bay was a catalyst for the Sox this year. When he was hitting well, the Red Sox were hitting well. He has a great arm and is adapting to the Monster very well. The Red Sox would also be hard-pressed to find a teammate of his caliber elsewhere. Bay is relatively quiet, never causing controversy and never having problems with teammates. He strikes out pretty frequently, but I would much rather take a player who strikes out all the time than a player who grounds into double plays. If the Red Sox do not re-sign Bay, they will miss out on a great chance to get a quality, well-rounded player who will definitely help the team make the postseason next year.

Alex_gonzalez2.jpgpicture from sonsofsamhorn.net

Alex Gonzalez: The Red Sox can pick up Gonzalez’s $6 million option for next year, try to re-sign him for less money or pursue a different option at shortstop either internally (Lowrie, Green) or externally.

I think it was a mistake to let Gonzalez leave Boston in the first place. Gonzalez is not anything great at the plate, but his defense more than makes up for his offensive deficiencies. Gonzalez is a sure-handed shortstop and performed well. Theo Epstein does not have a great history with shortstops, so with any new shortstop, there will be a lot of question marks entering the season. The Red Sox should attempt to sign Gonzalez for less money if at all possible, but should not get hung up on that avenue. Pick up his option if he refuses to take less money for more years.

images.jpgpicture from stonephoto.com

Tim Wakefield: Wakefield is schedules to have back surgery this postseason. The Red Sox have infinite one-year options for him. Wakefield could also retire or join a different team.

I think the Red Sox need to wait it out on Wake. Unless his back problems completely disappear for at least a few months, they should not re-sign Wakefield. There are a few starting pitchers in the minor leagues (work on Bowden) and some quality pitchers the Red Sox could pursue trades for that are more dependable and less injury prone than Wakefield.

Jason Varitek: The Red Sox can pick up his $5 million team option, welcome him back under his $3 million player option, watch him go elsewhere or invite him back as a coach.

I love Jason Varitek and he has been my favorite player for years now. That said, he is in the midst of a steady decline. Catchers have shorter careers, and at 38 years old by the start of next season, there is no reason to believe that Varitek will improve or even maintain his status quo. He has been abysmal at throwing runners out at second and cannot hit consistently well anymore. Varitek is, however, fantastic with pitching staffs and fellow catchers. Victor Martinez has done nothing but talk about how helpful Varitek has been for him. The Red Sox should encourage him to retire and return to the Red Sox as either a pitching or catching coach for next season.

9_rocco__1235082952_2719.jpgpicture from boston.com

Rocco Baldelli: The Red Sox can either sign him to a one-year deal, multi-year deal or let him walk as a free agent.

Baldelli is a great story, but not a great baseball player. His mitochondrial disease forces him to take a lot of time of to recover from strenuous activity. The Red Sox need a more durable fourth outfielder who can maybe spend some time platooning with J.D. Drew and adds more speed on the bases.

images-1.jpg picture from trueslant.com

David Ortiz: Ortiz has $12.5 million left on his contract. The Sox can either keep him as the DH, platoon him with a first or third baseman, or release/trade him.

The Red Sox should keep Ortiz as is. The fact that he was able to reach 28 home runs and 99 RBIs is incredible after his horrific first three months of the season. Ortiz is not the same hitter as he was in 2004/2005, but he is still a difference maker for this team. There is no reason to change anything when the team has more pressing issues to deal with.

Mike-lowell-on-rt.jpgpicture from armchairgm.com

Mike Lowell
: Lowell’s contract is not up after the season, but his declining health and numbers make him a palatable release or trade bait.

The Red Sox should maintain the status quo with Lowell as well. His range is not as good as it has been, but he is still capable of making Sports Center worthy
plays and is a double machine. Lowell can get on base and drive in runs for the Red Sox, a glaring failure for the team in the ALDS. The Red Sox need to focus on pitching, not players like Lowell who are still very effective.

wagner_0831.jpgpicture from projo.com

Billy Wagner: The Red Sox could theoretically pick up an $8 million option for next year for Wagner, but they promised the reliever they would not do so before trading for him. They could re-sign him in a different contract or send him on his way.

This is not even a question. Wagner is gone. He was not overly impressive, he is getting old, and he even admitted that he would probably retire. I hope he enjoys retirement and I wish him well.

Issue not addressed by Boston.com

41__1255295173_5150.jpgpicture from boston.com

Jonathan Papelbon: After Papelbon blew a save to end the Red Sox’s postseason, many people in Red Sox Nation suggested that perhaps it was time for him to become a Yankee and for Daniel Bard to step into the closer’s role. The Red Sox own Papelbon’s rights through the 2011 season. They could sign him to either a one-year or multi-year deal or go to arbitration.

Unfortunately, one of Papelbon’s worst outings the season ended the season. Papelbon had a very good year, par for the course for him. He made 38 saves in 41 opportunities, improving over last season’s 41 saves in 46 opportunities. He ended the season with a 1.85 ERA. The Red Sox would be making a huge mistake by letting him get away. Papelbon is one of the elite closers of his generation and is still in his prime. Daniel Bard is still inexperienced and could use another year of study under Papelbon in order to become even close to a Papelbon-caliber pitcher. There is nobody in the Red Sox bullpen I would rather give the ball to, and I would have given Papelbon the ball every time in a Game 3 elimination save. Pitchers lose. Unfortunately, Papelbon lost at the wrong time. That, however, is no justification for trading him. It is important to look at the whole picture, not just one outing.     

If I were Theo Epstein, I would keep Bay, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Lowell and Papelbon. I would say goodbye to Varitek, Wakefield, Wagner, Baldelli and half of the bullpen. I would be willing to trade Michael Bowden, but definitely would not trade Daniel Bard. I would also see that Daisuke shows up ready to pitch or else I would release him in Spring Training. The Red Sox really need to focus on pitching this off season, and it would be great if they could add one more solid bat to the lineup.