Thursday, July 14, 2011

Viable Alternatives

Lots of all-star break chatter on sports radio was dominated by the upcoming offseason and whether the Red Sox will - or should - re-sign or try to re-sign two cornerstone public figures on their baseball team.  Let's go one by one:


I'm not one to forget much, other than the locations of my keys, wallet, and phone.  Therefore, I do not forget April and May 2009 and April and May 2010.  Those were embarrassing.  With the exception of basically those three and a half months (he was okay by mid-May 2010), there was never a point in David Ortiz's steroid-fueled Red Sox career that sucked.  He got some crap about being in decline in 2007 because he didn't hit 50 home runs like he did in 2006.  Yup, when you're hitting .330, you deserve to have people talk about how terrible you are.  Other than the 3.5 months that very well may cost David Ortiz several million dollars on the open market this offseason, the worst we've ever seen of this player might be right now.

He does not suck right now.  He's an All-Star, and a deserving one except for the fact that he was a heinous steroid abuser.  He is, however, in a DH market and only a DH market.  That market has been extremely unkind to players in the past several off-seasons.  Adam Dunn got paid, I guess.  And Guerrero's $8m wasn't bad.  But the very same option Ortiz was crying about (this is COMPLETELY aligned with the stuff Pat was talking about this week about Ortiz still being a superstar in his own mind) in November was something that any rational thinker would have considered a gift by February.


Probably.  They have money coming off the books, getting rid of Ortiz's own $12 million, Drew's $14 million, and a few other pieces here and there.  Look, there's talk about another team that might offer Ortiz the 3-4 years and $45 million he wants.  There's only one team in baseball history that would have done that, and that team is the 2006 New York Yankees.  Brian Cashman doesn't do that kind of stuff anymore unless the Steinbrenner brothers really have their foot in the middle.  The Red Sox have money to burn and no better alternative for the next two years.  Lance Berkman?  More sucky seasons than Ortiz over the last however many years.  Jim Thome?  Doubt it.  None of these other potential free agents can touch what Ortiz would do in a realistic scenario.  This isn't even factoring in John Henry's soft spot.


Pat wrote some things about Papelbon's numbers a few days back, but to be honest, he has not sucked this year.  He's been an above average major league closer once again.  He's better than any reasonable internal option the team has at this time.  The rest of the potential free agent list is littered with names like Rafael Betancourt, Mike Gonzalez, (possibly) Joe Nathan, Chad Qualls, Fernando Rodney, Francisco Rodriguez (I think), and Joel Zumaya.  There's a lot out there.  But are any of those guys more likely to put up better numbers than Jonathan Papelbon?  Probably not.

However, Papelbon will demand an unprecedented contract for a position that can be extremely volatile from year to year.  And the Rodriguez contract has proven that there will almost always be a team stupid enough to do that kind of thing.  If someone else wants to take him for five years and $50-60 million, the Red Sox should not just walk away.  They should run away and roll the dice on one of these other guys - except for maybe Gonzalez after what's done down this last weekend.  If affordable for four years or less, I'm okay with bringing him back.


Seems like the team has had enough of his crap.  They also seem to know the contract demands, and I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't devote time to re-signing this guy.  The Boy Wonder and his stat nerds have a defined value for this player, and I feel like their number and the player's number are too far apart.  Be prepared to hold your breath until the Red Sox develop another guy like this.  Let's take the next couple of months trying to pronounce Ranaudo.


Anonymous said...


Great post--it's hard to find worthwhile topics while the All- Star break is going on.

On Ortiz--unless the Sox can sign him for a one year deal or maybe a two year deal for $16-18 million, I doubt he's back. If it means three years and $40 million I can't imagine the Sox re-signing him. And it would be the right time to walk away. They could always move Youkilis to DH and use that money to bring in a young third baseman, or they could flirt with Prince Fielder. They could also let JD Drew go and try to sign Carlos Beltran for short money (but they probably will just plug in Kalish/Reddick). They have a lot of options. But paying Ortiz $30-45 million at ages 36, 37, and 38, just doesn't sound like a great idea.

On Papelbon--he has been better this year--his walks are down and his strikeouts are up. But his ERA is the worst of his career and his WHIP (1.2) is the second worst of his career. He's also going to be 31 next year and you know he's going to want the type of contract you outlined. They have Daniel Bard for exactly this situation. If Papelbon leaves I doubt anyone will be happy about it, but Bard can step right in and finding a set-up guy is a lot easier than finding a closer (remember how great Okajima was in 2007? And he came out of nowhere).

Without Drew/Ortiz/Papelbon next years team will look very different. But that's also $35 million coming off the books. Presuming Theo isn't looking to sign a starting pitcher/RF/SS with that money, I bet they'll find success replacing those three.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

I don't have a strong view on these two one way or the other. With Ortiz, the question is broader in the sense of how to replace what is lost over the entire lineup once the production of everyone who leaves is aggregated. With Drew out, I think the Sox can find a way to replace Drew + Ortiz with two players who might be in-between the two, at perhaps less money, but more importantly, as Gunn said, not a $40 million commitment over the youthful 35-39 age bracket.

Papelbon is a tougher call because there really is no aggregate when it comes to the closer. I like Bard as much as any other potential closer so, as has been said, the key is to assess the options and go from there. The Sox have the resources to take flyers on all kinds of guys so I would much rather see shorter contracts for perhaps a bit more money than Lackey/Drew/Lugo type deals that lock the payroll up into the future.

Final note, Gunn, Japan is found off the east coast of China. Also the nation of the Women's World Cup Team of Destiny.


Anonymous said...

Forget perhaps, I meant 'certainly', as I somehow forgot 7 made $14. On a related note, went to BAL-BOS last Saturday and saw Lackey's only decent start in perhaps the last two years and just missed a JD cycle- K, backward K, weak groundout, with only a pre-'Sweet Caroline' departure holding him back from reaching the honor.