I just don’t know how to feel about this.
The Sox have signed a new third baseman, Adrian Beltre. This is a player who I stated I hoped the Sox stayed far away from in a blog entry a few weeks ago. Beltre is a player who has been a colossal underachiever his entire career. (If you think his fluke 2004 season wasn’t PED-fueled, I have a bridge I want to sell you.) On top of that – and most disturbing – signing him signals that the Red Sox truly are out of the running for Adrian Gonzalez.
This is the latest blow in an offseason that has left me feeling sick about the Red Sox 2010 chances — following the signing of Fluko Scutaro, losing Bay and replacing him with Mike “The K” Cameron.
However, maybe not all is lost . . .
The saving grace in the Beltre signing is the contract. I am shocked at how reasonable it is. A mere $9 million, followed by a player option of $5 million in 2011 and a $1 million buyout.
I thought signing Beltre would take much more money and a commitment of several years. I’m not a fan of Beltre, but for $9 million for what essentially is a one-year deal, I can live with it. In fact, I almost like it.
Beltre must have had almost no suitors for him to accept this deal, which is nowhere near what Scott Boras was seeking for him. He must be hoping to play well this year, in a high-profile market, and cash in next off-season. Make no mistake: There is NO WAY Beltre accepts just $5 million to come back next year. Only way he does is if he has a terrible year, and, with that money, the Sox will likely be looking to eat his contract and replace him anyway should that happen.
Buried deep in the order, and playing in Fenway Park, Beltre may even end up being a huge steal, as he has all the motivation in the world to produce for a contract, has little offensive expectations, and moves from large Safeco Field to Fenway, where he can use the wall to pad his stats.
The more I think about it, the more I kind of like this deal. This offseason certainly hasn’t gone how I wanted it to go. In fact, it has pretty much gone the opposite direction. But who knows? This team might still be pretty decent next year.
Of course, if they aren’t, I’ll say I told you so.
It looks like Mike Lowell is headed to the Texas Rangers. Multiple reports have him headed to the Rangers for minor league catcher Max Ramirez, while it appears the Sox might be getting close to signing free-agent third-baseman Adrian Beltre.
While I’ve advocated getting rid of Lowell this offseason, that doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. Lowell has been a great contributor to this team since 2006. Considering this guy was a throw-in in the Beckett deal, and looked so bad his first spring training some Boston baseball media geniuses thought he’d be cut, what he has done for the Sox must be applauded. He might be slower than geology, but he’s given us a solid bat, excellent defense before his injury, and a top-notch clubhouse presence. He will be remembered fondly by Sox Nation.
Meanwhile, I am cringing at the thought of signing Adrian Beltre. Outside of his highly-suspicious 2004 season — a contract year, mind you — this one-time uber-prospect’s career has been a colossal disappointment. He might not command the sizeable contract he got in 2005, but the Sox will still be overpaying for what he brings to Boston. And considering the Sox just signed a shortstop (Scutaro) who has also had a questionable career, I have real concerns with this team going forward.
But perhaps my biggest concern with signing Beltre is it leaves no room to make a deal for that power-hitting bat the Sox so desperately need. Understand, adding Beltre’s .260 average and 23 homers is no answer to this team’s offensive problems. Should the Sox resign Bay, or bring in Matt Holliday, in left, then have Beltre at third and Scutaro at short, they will only have a marginally better offense then they had last year — not good enough to bring home a championship.
Now, the catcher situation might be interesting. The minor leaguer the Sox are getting from the Rangers, Max Ramirez, might be ready for primetime (although his defense reportedly needs work). Are the Sox bringing him in as insurance in case Tek gets injured this year? Or insurance that they don’t resign Victor Martinez? Or insurance in case Tek just can’t perform anymore? The Sox might be thinking they’ll give Tek a chance through May, and if he can’t perform, expect a press conference where they regret to announce they have to cut him, and thank him for his service.
A report in yesterday’s Boston Globe said the Red Sox are currently shopping Mike Lowell, and may even be willing to pick up half of his remaining salary. Obviously, this looks like they are laying the groundwork to deal Lowell immediately once they are able to work out a deal with San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez.
But I wonder if the Sox feel so uncomfortable by Lowell’s health issues these last two seasons and by his rapidly vanishing range at third base that they feel they need to replace him at third next year regardless of whether they land Gonzalez or not. I’m certainly leaning that way. It looks like Lowell’s days in Boston are over.
Also, I know I’ve said this before, but with the free-agent frenzy ready to kick into high gear next week I’ll say it again: I have a really bad feeling about this off-season. The most cause for concern is the vision of Jason Bay in pinstripes.
Face it, it makes all the sense in the world for the Yankees to go after Bay. They are at the end of both Damon’s and Matsui’s contracts. Getting Bay would be a huge upgrade for them. Even more, by signing Bay the Yankees would be dealing a CRUSHING blow to their rivals, the Red Sox. I really don’t see how this doesn’t happen.
If this does happen, you can all but kiss next season goodbye. Even with Bay, the Sox needed to upgrade their offense. Should they sign Gonzalez, but lose Bay, they are essentially only breaking even. Not to say that Gonzalez and Bay are equal; they aren’t. Gonzalez is a premier offensive force. But the Sox offense needs both those bats to compete with the Yankees. Signing Matt Holliday to replace him isn’t the answer. The way Boras is talking, he would cost too much. Plus, his Colorado years and his early season slump in Oakland leave a lot of questions as to what kind of hitter he really is.
Should the Sox lose Bay, 2010 is a rebuilding year.
In the words of Mark McGwuire: “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
Let’s, for a moment, forget that ALDS with the Angels ever happened. Instead, let’s bring hope back to Red Sox Nation and talk about the future . . . unless the Sox fail to bring back Jason Bay. Then forget about hope and save yourselves, cuz this ship is sinking. So, let’s take a look at issues the Sox face this winter.
JASON BAY – The Red Sox absolutely, positively NEED to bring back Jason Bay. Rarely will I say the Sox “need” anybody. But the fact is the team’s weakest link this year was its offense. If the Sox lose their best offensive player (Bay), they likely won’t be able to make the offensive upgrades they need next season. The free agent market for bats this season is especially thin (forget Matt Holliday, the most overrated bat out there). And if the Sox land a good bat in a trade – like Adrian Gonzalez – but lose Bay, they’ll be swapping bats rather than making a significant offensive improvement next year (which would be keeping Bay and getting a Gonzalez). What scares me to death is there is no reason the Yankees won’t let Johnny Damon walk and instead throw a ton of money at Bay – which improves the Yankees offense AND hurts the Red Sox. This scares me.
JONATHON PAPELBON – I’ve been shocked at the number of people clammering to trade Paps since his blown save the other day. Sox Nation needs to get a grip. As I’ve said before, every great closer has blown big games (Rivera, Eck, Hoffman, Gossage). What makes them great is their ability to brush it off and come back. Papelbon has shown he can do it. Why would you mess with that? Did we learn nothing from the Closer By Committee fiasco that started the Theo administration in early 2003? It takes a certain type of mentality (or craziness) to be a closer, and Paps has that. Bard has great stuff, but we don’t know if he has the mental toughness to be a closer. He could instead be the next Billy Koch. That being said, the promise of Bard does give the Sox flexibility should it take dealing a Papelbon to bring a bigtime bat like Adrian Gonzalez in return.
ADRIAN GONZALEZ – In case you haven’t yet noticed, I want the Sox to back the truck up to land San Diego firstbaseman Adrian Gonzalez. He is a young, dynamic bat that could help this offense. And San Diego will be hiring a new GM (Jed Hoyer?) soon who will likely be looking to stock up on young talent. Slot A-Gonz into first, move Youk to third and . . .
MIKE LOWELL – He’s been a great player for the Sox for these past few seasons, but his best years are well-behind him. Injuries make him unreliable and limit his mobility in the field. If the Sox can find a better bat, they need to move on. The only way I see Lowell staying in that situation is if he was a platoon DH with . . .
DAVID ORTIZ – Undoubtedly my favorite baseball player of all-time. So it pains me to say this. I know he came back big in the second-half, and had impressive numbers as a result. Still, how many meaningful times did Papi come through this year against good pitching. Not many. He wasn’t a factor in the playoffs, and didn’t look like there was any hope he could be. Papi will never again be the great hitter he once was, and I’d say it was time for the Sox to move on, EXCEPT . . . tell me where the Sox are going to get another DH to replace him given how weak the free-agent market is. Assuming they keep Bay, the Sox are going to need to find a home for a new bat, and that will be in either Lowell’s or Ortiz’s slot. Given Lowell’s health issues, I wouldn’t be surprised if they dump Lowell, keep Ortiz at DH this year, and then try to replace him after next season.
JASON VARITEK – It’s hard to watch cornerstones of the 2004 championship team like Papi and Tek age and have their skills diminish. At this point, everyone has to accept that Tek is done. Even, probably, Tek. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him retire this offseason (but in some way that keeps that $3 mill option). At this point, I’m not sure the Sox offense can afford to have him as the backup catcher.
Maybe you’re feeling really good right now. Heck, the Sox beat Chicago last night. They still lead the wild card. They just picked up Billy Wagner. You think there’s a lot to feel good about. If this is you, and you don’t want to be brought down by a tsunami of negativity, you should click away right about now.
I have a lot of anger and frustration built up by the way the Sox have played these last few weeks. And it’s high time I let it out. Consider yourself warned.
-In Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS, I said if J.D. Drew did something big, I’d never bad-mouth him again. Of course, he hit that grand slam. And since then I’ve tried. I’ve REALLY tried. But how much can one Red Sox fan take?!?! The highest paid player on the team is our $15 million a year NUMBER EIGHT HITTER!!!! A gutless, pathetic underachiever his entire career, Drew is proving right all the people who said he’d be a terrible signing for the Sox . . . and that includes his old teammates and managers with the Cardinals and Dodgers who said he was gutless. If his recent .235 average and slot as the Number 8 hitter isn’t enough to enrage you, how about the fact he asked out of a game against the Texas Rangers — the same Rangers in a dogfight with the Sox for the wildcard — in the ninth inning of a game in which CLAY BUCHHOLZ WAS USED AS A FRIGGIN’ PINCH RUNNER!!!! And we have TWO MORE YEARS on his horrible contract!!! AARRRGGHHH!!!
–Jonathon Papelbon is a whiny, high-maintenance diva. Recently asked about the possibility of Billy Wagner coming to Boston, Paps said he is the closer and doesn’t see any reason for another closer. That the bullpen is fine and doesn’t need fixing. Maybe it has to do with speculation the Sox would bring back Wagner as a set up man to Daniel Bard next year, and deal Paps in this offseason. Don’t like that, Paps? Well, you’re the one who has been saying you are going to free agency to cash in with the highest bidder, even if it is the Yankees. So suite yourself. And, in case you haven’t noticed lately, you’ve been doing a great Calvin Shiraldi impression. I hope we do deal you.
-In June, were you among the chorus of fans saying how we just couldn’t possibly deal Brad Penny. How you feel about that now? His recent appearances have even made us long for the days of John Smoltz. And how about Smoltzie’s debut with the Cards. What a nice little kick in the stones for Sox fans.
-So much for the theory that Josh Beckett just needed to be caught by Jason Varitek. If this is a sign of things to come, we’re screwed.
-Hey look: The offense finally woke up. Sorry, but I’m not buying it. These team has problems, and we actually might be best served in the long run by not making the playoffs this season. You see, if we do get there and have a decent run, the feeling that the team needs serious changes might be dulled. That would be bad. Let’s face it, Mike Lowell and Big Papi are breaking down right before our eyes. They aren’t going to get better. If Theo is going to rejuvenate this team, he needs to replace them this offseason. And while he’s at it, how much longer til it’s time to admit J.D. Drew was a mistake and find ourselves a new rightfielder?
-I friggin’ hate the Yankees.
-I need a drink.
Anyone looking for proof that you can do something to curse your team look no further than this blog last night.
At 10:27 p.m., I posted an entry on how the Red Sox had a done deal with Mark Teixeira, and talked about how to move forward. Not 20 minutes later, John Henry sent out an e-mail stating the Sox were out of the Teixeira sweepstakes.
We still don’t know what happened yet. Maybe the Angels’ desperation got the better of them and they went to 10 years. They certainly were looking at a dark place if they missed out on Tex, and needed him more than the Sox. Maybe the foolish Nationals made a desperate insane offer. It wouldn’t be the first time a franchise that couldn’t afford a superstar bid out of their league (Texas/ARod). If that’s the case, expect them to look to deal him within three years . . . and expect Tex’s complaining about the franchise not winning to begin in two.
Still, all hope is not lost . . . yet. This is Scott Boras and the Red Sox . . . two entities who have said deals were dead in the past, only to have them be revived later on. So, until a deal is announced and a physical has taken place, this thing isn’t over. But it doesn’t look good.
If the Sox don’t get Tex, you have to start to wonder about next year. They have a good team in place, and, if everyone is healthy, they should be fine. But, given the age of Lowell and Tek, and given the fragility of JD Drew, and the uncertainty of Papi’s wrist, there will still be a lot to worry about heading into the season.
Reports are the Sox brass are currently in Texas with Scott Boras hammering out the final details of the contract for Mark Teixeira. The announcement that Tex is a member of the Sox could come any moment.
Now what? The Sox have seen this coming for awhile, and likely already have a trading partner for Mike Lowell. Expect him to be dealt almost immediately, as much in fairness to Lowell as anything else. The sooner Lowell knows where he is going, the better for him.
Then it is on to signing another starter. Of course, the Sox could slide Masterson, Bucholz or Bowden into that open rotation spot. But expect them to bring in a veteran to fill that spot to begin the year, with the three young arms being worked in gradually throughout the season, and maybe even locking down a rotation spot or two (Wake’s?) come September.
With so many young arms on the horizon, they likely won’t look for a long term deal, so no Lowe or deal for Peavy. We’re probably looking at a Paul Byrd type for a one-year deal, maybe they can score a Brad Penny for two-years. I still maintain Ben Sheets might be best served grabbing a one-year deal and cashing in next offseason, but he might just be satisfied with a sub-par annual salary but three- to four-year deal now.