Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hangin Out! Down the Street!

Well, the new season of Tom Werner's TV show is going to be a lot more entertaining and might bring laughter and joy into people's living rooms again. Had miles to run and a real paying job to attend to today, so my apologies for keeping this morning's post short. But the last week for the Red Sox has been the closest to earth-shattering as we've ever seen. Gunn compared it to Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. I'd call it bigger than anything we've ever seen except for maybe Manny Ramirez, but only because Nomar and Pedro were already there. For once, it was actually the Red Sox spending some money, although Adrian Gonzalez is currently only signed through the 2011 season. Fact.

This deal means a whole score of things, more than one post's worth of stuff. I guess it's a good week for Pat to be buried in finals. I sure wouldn't want to have that kind of workload, like having a 5-hour exam on Saturday and a 30-hour project due on Monday. Oh, wait. But this week, barring a Lee deal tonight, has been all Red Sox anyway. I will keep it to the first five that come to mind.

1. John W. Henry Co. went up 20 percent in 2010, so they're actually doing quite well. So let's stop talking about the Red Sox' small market-ness. They were pretty bad in the first place, but some time around 12:15 this morning they became just as bad. You cannot expect this team to give out long contracts like this one again for a long time. Their roster is more or less 2/3 set for the next three seasons. The rotation minus Matsuzaka, Youkilis, Pedroia, Bard, and these two guys are all sticking around until 2013 or beyond. So they will not be spending big for a while. Not because they're poor. But because their roster spots are taken.

2. There is absolutely no plan. Theo Epstein was talking about no major acquisitions, but the ownership for some reason didn't expect Red Sox fans to turn on them after they bought the soccer team, said a bunch of dumb things, let Victor Martinez go, and give a really, really dumb interview. This was a series of panic moves. But the panic moves, although haphazard, made this team a lot better. We can now almost forget that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the catcher and there is no bullpen. (Feel free to read my regularly-scheduled bullpen post from last night!)
3. Ken Rosenthal said that the Yankees would "erupt in chaos" if Cliff Lee signs anywhere else. Would this be the case if the Red Sox hadn't signed their backup plan/Brett Gardner insurance last night? Of course not. Lee has all the leverage. I think the rational group of Yankees fans, my co-author included, think the Yankees will be fine without Cliff Lee. But those who think Doc Brown is electrically conductive enough and should be sent back to 1985 will absolutely flip out. The papers will flip out. Hal Steinbrenner would get crushed all over the place. People will wonder if he's buying a second-rate European soccer team instead of making good offers.
Perhaps most importantly, they'll say that his father, the winner, would have never let this happen.
4. How about on-the-field implications? A lot of this was addressed in today's (terrific) comments section. Pat's comment about how he's the highest-paid player to never hit 20 home runs is interesting. I think that he will hit 20 home runs this year, partially because the little league field is moving their right field wall in a little bit further as a big "thank you" for JD Drew's underwhelming production for the last four years. (Less room to run in right and warning track power turns into a home run or two.) But I read somewhere that the Red Sox have on their roster the league leader in steals for eight of the last nine years or something like that. The value of speed is debated, as it should be. The Giants were dead last in steals last year. Speed overrates borderline major leaguers like 46. Speed adds value in "what-if" situations. Moneyballers hated speed no more than a decade ago. But no matter the value, if the Red Sox now have a guy who can hit .300 with 20 home runs, 35-45 (doubles + triples), and only 100 strikeouts a year for the next four, that's a key cog in the lineup. Maybe not worth $20 million, especially considering how much they outbid the Angels by. But right now it's borderline irrelevant if their shortstop is mediocre, their catcher is below average, and their outfield has JD Drew. Unless Beckett and Lackey suck WORSE than last year, they'll be a good team. Even if they're AS BAD, they're a playoff team.
5. Who's the other outfielder? JD will be in right field four days a week, including Friday night, until he rides with a bow in his hand into the sunset. (Can't give it the 9/28 date anymore, as this team's a playoff team again.) Theo said Kalish is not ready yet, so the other outfielder is 46. But 46 is basically an inferior version of Crawford except he's two (and only two) years younger and still has sore ribs. I'd love to see 46 traded for a good reliever, if there is such a thing available on the trade market, as Kalish brings a more rounded skill set than 46's one tool game. This move makes 46 that much more expendible, and if the Red Sox can actually get something of value in return for this stiff, it would be worth exploring

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

I don't know if these huge moves were part of a long term plan or not, but I'm inclined to think that they are. Granted, on the one hand it does seem like they came together kind of haphazardly, but on the other we've been hearing about bridge years since 2008 ended. And it's not like the Sox made a real run at either Beltre or Martinez. So maybe trading for Gonzalez and signing Crawford was the plan all along.

The other thing is that I don't know just how much Theo is hamstrung by the ownership. Sure, they provide him with an exorbitant payroll and Theo has made some awful free agent signings, but at the same time, he doesn't OWN the team. It's not his. And his bosses are smart guys and more importantly, they have the ego's that smart guys tend to have. The complications that can arise between the disconnect between ownership and the GM could be a part of why we hear one thing one day and another the next.

Also, the Sox tend to do a good job keeping big moves quiet. Did anyone have any idea that the Sox were that involved with Crawford until they woke up this morning? It totally caught me off guard.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

i'm not sure whether there is a plan or not, and i think it's ultimately moot now because when you trade 3 of your top 5 prospects and commit 142 million to a player in the same week you aren't win now, you are win right now x2. that's where the sox are. it's been somewhat entertaining to see the amount of sox fans i've heard declaring their roster currently the best in the game. listen, i understand how exciting a week like this is. it really is great, and getting two new players as dynamic as gonzalez and crawford gets you all kinds of pumped up for the season to start. and there is no doubt the sox got better. but this is a team that was 2nd in the majors in runs scored last year. they were 17th in rotation era and 23rd in bullpen era. the only area that has been addressed is the area where they were already the strongest. (and let's not forget the lineup has lost two key pieces in vmart and beltre. is it better this way? absolutely, positively, without question. but you're still trotting drew, scutaro, salty/tek, and ellsbury out there at the bottom of the order, while subbing crawford/agonz for vmart/beltre in the first 5. the difference probably won't be noticed as much in total run production as it will be in terms of how much more difficult their lineup is to pitch to, which makes them a tougher team to play.)

back to the point, if the red sox are now win now, they need to address their other deficiencies. right now you have three pitchers that you can feel totally comfortable with entering 2011 - lester, buchholz, and bard. that's reflected in the 2010 team numbers. the pitching staff is traditionally 12 or 13, not 3.

and it's not like they aren't in a position to do this. they could definitely try to trade an outfielder for a back-end bullpen piece, or sign one of the remaining available ones. the rotation seems to be something they are committed to, which based on recent history is a mistake. i'm not sure they shouldn't try to get creative and add try to add a definitive 2/3 to put behind lester and provide protection for buchholz. if they are going to go to the extent they have to add the offensive pieces that they have, there is no reason to stop there. if you're win now, you can't go halfway. i use the term halfway not to say that's where the red sox are, they are much further along. i use it to juxtapose going all the way, which the red sox presently have not because of their short pitching in certain places. obviously i hope they don't do this, but it what their actions this week dictate they probably should do.

Patrick said...

*i think the offense will definitely score more runs in 2011 than it did in 2010. there is no doubt that crawford/agonz are better than vmart/beltre on paper. i was just pointing out that because they were already so proficient offensively in 2010, and lost those two players, the difference probably won't end up being as big in the runs column as you would expect adding two players like crawford/agonz. there will likely be an increase, but i think the difference will be more noticeable in the day to day ferocity of the lineup, and how tough they are to pitch to, which is especially important in big games/against top shelf pitchers.

Anonymous said...

Patty,

Don't u think there is a good chance that lackey and or Beckett pitch better? Not as concerned about rotation. Real concerned about bullpen. That could undo this whole thing.


Lastly, I don't think anyone on this blog says the sox have best roster. I'm assuming you just peruse random blogs and pick out the pinkhat fans and use them to represent the whole. I'll start doing the same about yankees fans...oh wait, I have a life so no I won't do that.

TimC said...

Good points PF, I think the Sox moves on the lineup side will not have much impact over 162 but I am much more confident about their ability to score runs in playoff games. They have not had this kind of threat at the bat since Manny bounced and I think being hard to pitch to is much more important in the post-season than OBP of the lineup as a unit.

On the pitching side, I think the rotation is fine but the Sox do need to shore up some things in the 'pen (and DV made more sharp observations in his post from yesterday). Anyone, really, that was not on the team last year will do. Although these big signings are being linked to moves like Schilling and Manny, it was the acquisitions of players like Timlin, Meuller, Bellhorn, etc., the below-radar guys, that made those early Theo teams tough and a couple of astute signings like that are the ones needed now. If they succeed in that area, I think the Sox are a legitimate favorite in the AL- otherwise, nothing of substance has really changed.

Also good call (I believe it was PF) about how quickly 'pitching and defense' went out the window. I'm not sure if I used the word 'propaganda' here when I first heard about it but looking back it sure did seem that way and I am glad to have capitalism back at Fenway.