Moving On

Just like that.

One strike away from extending the series, Jonathan Papelbon couldn't, for the first time ever in the [pstseason, put the game away. Having entered the game allowing no earned runs in 23 postseason innings, he gave up three. In all, five runs scored on his watch. Brutal.

So now what?

The Sox enter the 2009-10 offseason with a few questions and fewer answers.

The offense

Do the Sox, who looked awful away from Fenway Park pretty much all season long, and especially in this series, go all out to sign Matt Holliday? Or, more creatively, do they eat most or all of Mike Lowell's contract in some form by going after a trade for Prince Fielder or some other big-time power first baseman like Adrian Gonzalez? And what to do about David Ortiz, who is likely to be no better than the .900 OPS guy we saw from June on, and could in fact be a good deal worse?

The lineup is aging quickly, but it's hard to see what could be done to make it better. Lowell and Ortiz are too expensive to move. Ditto Drew, though there's no reason yet to move him. Unless Jed Lowrie can prove he's actually healthy, shortstop remains a void, though it seems clear catcher is now Victor Martinez's territory for two-thirds of 2010. The big name that could have taken care of all this went to the Yankees last offseason.

Whatever else happens, signing one of Bay or Holliday seems imperative, after which it gets very murky very quickly.

The pitching

So we like Beckett-Lester-Buchholz-Matsuzaka. Wakefield, Bowden, Tazawa are all in the mix. And there's the back-burnered megadeal for Feliz Hernandez that could have made waves at the deadline. Barring a blockbuster, the starters look pretty good. Seemingly no need for a big move here, just the usual collection of reclamations and prospects to back up Wakefield for his Annual DL Trip.

The relievers? A different story. Delcarmen imploded, Ramirez slid downward for the entire second half. Bard should be very good, but he's still inconsistent. And Papelbon had his worst season yet. Could a bolt-from-the-blue deal including Papelbon be swung before he proves that either 1. he's not Mariano Rivera, or 2. his arm is not going to last that long, even if he were Mariano Rivera? If that happens, it shifts Bard to closer (and he may not be ready), then leaves a hole where Bard would have been. Meanwhile, we need to figure out what to do with Delcarmen. Saito and Okajima are no-brainers to bring back. Can Wagner be enticed to come back as the closer if Paps is shipped off so Bard could get another year under his belt?

In the end, there just may not be much to be done here. The pen was a strength until it wasn't. It's hard to see a better set of resumes being assembled than the one with which the Sox entered the postseason. That they ultimately collapsed down the stretch and into October is part of the problem with bullpens.

Ideas?

76 comments… add one

  • I am not a Sox fan, but I have an idea…
    Papelbon to the Phillies for Jayson Werth. Now there might have to be more parts to it, but that certainly fills a need for both teams. Werth can replace Bay (Werth has played over 200 games in LF) and Papelbon can fill the giant void at closer for the Phillies. The Phillies have a few young OF prospects that are not that far off (Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor).
    Just my 2 cents…

    John - YF October 12, 2009, 1:15 pm
  • Has anyone noticed that Billy Wagner has an ERA over 10 in the post season? Also from stricly a observational point of view, he cant close in big spots. I remember him coming in with a four run lead and blowing it to the Yankees. If I were Theo, the last person I would want to close for the Sox is Wagner. He can not pitch in a big spot. And if your the sox, there a minimum of 18 big games a year plus the need to win 11 more in the playoffs.

    lardin October 12, 2009, 1:17 pm
  • WEEI.com’s Alex Spier reports that Theo says the Sox want Bay to stay and that Bay says he wants to stay.
    http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/this-just-in/214459/theo-core-elements-place-bay

    Wag’s ain’t staying. He’s thrown his last pitch for the Red Sox.

    John, that’s not a bad idea. But is Werth better than Bay? Bay has proven he can hit AL pitching, but he’s also proven AL pitching can strike him out. A lot.
    Also, Paps isn’t the problem. Even Mo has had a couple of bad innings in the postseason.
    The problem in that series was not pitching. There were four bad innings from the pitchers in the series, the most glaring being the 8th and 9th on Sunday. (Lester had one and Beckett had one.)
    The problem, as had been the case since June, was the offense.
    I think the fixes start with Ortiz.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 2:06 pm
  • Also, Paps isn’t the problem.
    Oh I know…I was just responding to Paul’s comment about possibly moving Paps. No blame placed here from this YF.

    John - YF October 12, 2009, 2:16 pm
  • It would definitely be easier to just re-sign Bay and not fight the Yankees and Cardinals for Holliday. I like Bay a lot, and the Ks don’t bother me one bit.
    In that case, the Sox simply have to get a corner IF bat that can provide some first base pop so Youkilis can provide third base pop. If Lowrie is healthy, that solves SS, potentially for a good long time.
    I agree pitching, especially the starters, was not the problem. But I don’t think Papelbon is going to have much longer as a dominant closer, and I wonder if the Sox might sell high with Bard ready to step in, before Paps gets to the high-dollar arb years that would scare away some trade partners.

    Paul SF October 12, 2009, 2:17 pm
  • Resign Bay, nobody wants to get into a bidding war for Holliday (who tore it up for the Cardinals).
    The rotation seems strong for next year. What we really need is a bat to replace Lowell/Ortiz. Only one of the two will be back next year.

    Atheose October 12, 2009, 2:21 pm
  • Werth is only under contract for one more year at $5, and Papelbon is under team control through 2011, so it might make sense for the Phillies, unless they can get Werth to sign an extension at a home-town discount. The guy is very valuable, and he’s not simply a product of the Phillies’ bandbox.
    The only problem I see with that plan is that they already have Brad Lidge under contract for a lot of moohlah. Would Theo be amenable to a plan that gives them Werth and Lidge in exchange for Papelbon? The Sox get a very cheap, very good replacement for Bay, and maybe Lidge can turn it around in Fenway. That would be putting the Sox’s deep pockets to good use.

    AndrewYF October 12, 2009, 2:21 pm
  • Also, at the end of every baseball season I’m reminded of this, the greatest baseball quote of all time:
    “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the cold winter alone.”

    Atheose October 12, 2009, 2:22 pm
  • Paul, Papelbon is already at the high-salary arbitration years. He made $6.25 million in his first arbitration year this year, a record for a reliever. He’ll likely be looking at upwards of $8-9 million this year, at a minimum. There are very, very few teams who have a need at closer and who can also afford to allot that much of their payroll to it. The Phillies, I think, are the Sox’s best chance.

    AndrewYF October 12, 2009, 2:25 pm
  • Andrew, I think Werth is 7 mill next year, but it’s basically the same thing. (Not being a d*ck) Lidge is through 2011, but remember he had success in his 1st season in Philly, maybe the same could be had in Boston. The Brewers signed Hoffman to an extension I believe, so that doesn’t leave very many NL partners who match up like the Phillies do.
    Again, just my 2 cents and I am not saying Paps is the issue. Just responding to post.

    John - YF October 12, 2009, 2:27 pm
  • Got slammed at work the last month of the season so I didn’t get to see as much of Bard as I would have liked.
    For those who did see him, quick show of hands: How many people think it’s worth a shot to let him close next year?
    Is it simply a consistency issue? And if so, is he less consistent than Paps?

    MJL in L.A. October 12, 2009, 2:28 pm
  • Oh, I was just thinking out loud, John. I agree with you that a trade with the Phillies seems the most likely, if the Sox really are going to part with Papelbon. Although I think that this is yet another case of a player being more valuable to his own team than he is on the trade market.

    AndrewYF October 12, 2009, 2:29 pm
  • Can everyone please take a deep breath before calling on the Sox to drop Papelbon and position Bard to be the next closer? Yes, Papelbon had a lackluster season, ending with Sunday’s disaster. But he’s established himself over several seasons as one of the very best closers in the game. Bard is a very exciting prospect, but I would hope that Sox fans would be a bit more cautious about rushing prospects to the big time so quickly. Does no one remember what happened to Buccholz in 2008?
    I hope that Papelbon is back as closer in 2010, and I think we can all agree that its pretty implausible to suggest that the Sox will ditch him this winter.
    In the end, the Sox season was marred by health problems and the lack of a big-time bat. Hopefully Dice-K will return to something approximating his true value next year, giving the Sox four high-quality starters right away. Bring back Bay, go out and trade for a top-line bat (Adrian Gonzalez?), and put enough runs on the board that one or two runs in the late innings won’t automaticallly lose the game.

    Adam-SF October 12, 2009, 2:31 pm
  • after how years does Lowrie’s fast start not matter? he missed the whole season and you still want to annoint him? based on what?

    jeterian October 12, 2009, 2:38 pm
  • The problem with ‘trading for a top-line bat’, Adam, is that any cheap, premium bat is going to cost the Sox Buchholz, and then you’re left with 3 solid starters, and only if Dice-K is solid. They don’t really have any other front-line, close-to-the-majors talent at the moment. Bowden has lost his luster, Lars had a terrible year, Reddick and Kalish, while being solid prospects, are nowhere near good enough to front a trade of that caliber. And you can’t just package all those guys up and have them equal top-end talent, trades just don’t work that way.
    The Padres aren’t trading away Adrian Gonzalez for anything less than JP Riccardi was asking for Halladay, probably more. They have precisely zero reason to.

    AndrewYF October 12, 2009, 2:40 pm
  • yup the only trades the Sox can make have to center on Bard, Papelbon, and Buchholz. For Gonzalez, even all three isn’t enough. Not Felix either.
    The Sox didn’t have the pieces for Cliff Lee.
    Ortiz now gets completely exposed by halfway decent pitching.

    jeterian October 12, 2009, 2:54 pm
  • AndrewYF,
    I’m not ignorant of the fact that there’s no free lunch. Getting Gonzalez would cost Buccholz, Bard, and then some! To be clear, I never said that the Sox wouldn’t or shouldn’t move one of their top four starters, i.e., Buccholz; instead, I said that a healthy Dice-K gives them four top starters “right away” — i.e., before any further moves are made.
    Furthermore, I disagree with your suggestion that SD is holding out for more that Riccardi wanted for Halladay — I don’t think there’s been any verification that anyone ever offered SD anything approaching the packages that Torono turned down. And I disagree even more strongly with your suggestion that SD has “precisely zero reason” to make such a move — that team is no a contender, and they control Gonzalez for only two more seasons. He won’t bring them a title in that time, but he could bring them the building blocks to a future contending team.

    Adam-SF October 12, 2009, 3:01 pm
  • Ryder, 4-3 Avs.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 3:03 pm
  • Apart from all the discussion of how to get better, I just want to say that I don’t miss the Sox being in the hunt for the big prize as much as I just miss them playing. If they were playing a meaningless game today against the Twins, I’d totally watch it.
    Also, it’s nice to learn (almost) every year that losing won’t kill you. Temporarily hurt you for a few hours, but not much more.

    Devine October 12, 2009, 3:05 pm
  • Hey look, the Cubs are officially bankrupt. At least one fanbase feels shittier today than the Sox do.

    Atheose October 12, 2009, 3:07 pm
  • I have my doubts about whether Holliday can hit effectively in the AL East. Someone will overpay for him.

    Is that Roger Angell, ath?

    I want to let Bard mature a bit more before I hand him the closer slot. One reason: Horse Face Tiexiera.

    Also, Paps did not have a lackluster season. His walks were up. That was it.

    Lowrie has proven nothing. I keep A-Gonz and make Lowrie my utility man. We don’t even know if he’s healthy.

    “The Sox didn’t have the pieces for Cliff Lee.”
    Source this, please. I’d never even heard that the Sox made a play for Lee. They got Big Vic, didn’t they? And they still have lots of chips on the farm.

    “I just want to say that I don’t miss the Sox being in the hunt for the big prize as much as I just miss them playing. If they were playing a meaningless game today against the Twins, I’d totally watch it.”
    I second that.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 3:13 pm
  • Anyone else have Columbus Day off?

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 3:16 pm
  • Cubs fans are numb to feeling shitty about their team. That’s why they call Wrigley the World’s Biggest Bar.
    They filed for bankruptcy to complete the sale from the Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family. It’s really just a technicality.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 3:20 pm
  • Speaking of the Cubs, let me float this: what about Soriano as the DH?

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 3:20 pm
  • Soriano to the Red Sox, that is.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 3:21 pm
  • Never heard the Lee stuff.

    True about Adrian Gonz. However (speculation warning), if you’re SD, despite his team-friendly contract and his home team appeal, do you consider dealing him because you can get a lot of pieces in return to rebuild a moribund operation? Remember that Towers just got whacked and Moorad hasn’t replaced him yet.

    4-3 Avs, final. Crap. A game chock full of bad Bs decisions.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 3:29 pm
  • Did not have the talent or chose not to give up what Cleveland was asking? There is a difference. It’s not like Philly gave up a lot to get Lee.
    We do know that the Red Sox made substantial offers to Toronto for Halladay, to Seattle for Hernandez and to San Diego for Gonzalez.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 3:47 pm
  • the lee stuff is all over. the sox discussed trading for both. they did have the talent when the indians realized they could get more by splitting them up
    So in other words you don’t have a source on this?

    Atheose October 12, 2009, 3:49 pm
  • Good quote Atheose, any idea on the author?

    IBM, I have Columbus day off. Kinda disappointing because I was hoping to spend it waiting for game 4 instead of thinking about next year…

    Clark SF October 12, 2009, 3:49 pm
  • Also, Paps did not have a lackluster season. His walks were up. That was it.
    This is a little misleading. Papelbon had a terrible first half in which he got very lucky, then changed his mechanics back and had a terrific second half. The reason he messed with his mechanics in the first place was that he was trying to protect his arm for October. That worked out well.
    The fact that your closer isn’t yet 30, hasn’t yet touched free agency (but already says he wants $15 million a season), and is already changing his mechanics in a way that worsens his performance to protect his already-injured shoulder throws red flags all over the place for me.
    It’s not about one bad game or a slightly worse than normal season. It’s about a terrible three months that go hand in hand with a pretty glaring injury risk. It’s almost as if Papelbon himself doesn’t believe he can be both as healthy and as effective in the long term as he has been.

    Paul SF October 12, 2009, 3:49 pm
  • The Sox were pretty obviously not in on Lee because they were trying to land either Halladay or Hernandez. When those fell through, Lee was gone, so they took Martinez.

    Paul SF October 12, 2009, 3:51 pm
  • You state your case on Paps well, Paul.
    You’re Theo. What do you do?

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 4:28 pm
  • I’m glad I’m not Theo. Is there a way to ship Paps for prospects that could then land Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez? That might be the only way to get it done. Paps for Werth would be mighty interesting, without doing a ton of research into Werth (though I was impressed by what I saw doing a run through on numbers for the Drew debates).
    I think of the three options at closer (Paps, Bard, Wagner), Papelbon would be most effective in 2010. But I also feel pretty confident that at that point, one year from free agency, he would carry less trade value, and that the risk of losing him to an injury next year is very high.
    If the Sox are to do anything with Papelbon before he hits free agency, this is the offseason to do it. Theo’s creative. If there’s a deal to be swung out there, he’ll figure a way to swing it.

    Paul SF October 12, 2009, 4:48 pm
  • That story by the reliable Rob Bradford states that the Sox and Indians talked about a mega-deal for Martinez and Lee, and that the Indians decided to split them up. Bradford did not write that the Red Sox “didn’t have the pieces for Cliff Lee.”
    Philly didn’t give up its best prospects for Lee.
    So … you’ve just refuted your own argument.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 5:17 pm
  • Good thoughts, Paul.
    I, too, am eager to see how Theo’s creativity comes to fruition.
    Is it possible they take a step back in 2010 to make a big leap forward in 2011, as they did in 2006 for 2007?

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 5:19 pm
  • One theory I have is that though the Sox have a bunch of very good hitters, they no longer have any *elite* hitters.
    MannyOrtiz in their prime were elite hitters. They were feared by all, and could be counted on (especially Manny) to hit consistently, week in, week out. Ortiz was not as consistent, but made up for it with clutchness. With some high-OBP guys in front of them like Youks, this was hard to beat.
    Now the lineup is more aimed at on-base percentage than production, and lacks those elite hitters who strike fear into everyone, even the likes of Halladay or Sabathia at their best.
    Even on days when the Sox have baserunners, they seem less likely to drive them home, especially away from Fenway where Boston hits a lot more doubles. It takes a lot of walks and singles to win a game, in the absence of either a lot of stolen bases and timely extra-base hits.
    There may be statistics that contradict my theory, which is admittedly anecdotal, but this is my best shot at figuring out how this lineup went dead on so many occasions, especially on the road.
    I also feel that in hindsight, maybe Francona made a mistake in emphasizing rest over competing hard right to the end of the season. Boston was listless in the last week or so, and looked rusty out in Anaheim.
    The Sox were firing on all cylinders up to about the time the wildcard became a virtual certainty, and then they throttled way down, never picking that momentum back up.

    Hudson October 12, 2009, 5:25 pm
  • P.S. As far as pitching, Boston’s starters for the most part did their jobs in this series, actually. Here’s a chart of how the runs scored by innning:
    Look at this chart of how the Angels scored their runs, cumulatively, by inning in this three-game series:
    1st: 0
    2nd: 0
    3rd: 0
    4th: 2 (0+1+1)
    5th: 3 (3+0+0)
    6th: 1 (0+1+1)
    7th: 5 (2+3+0)
    8th: 2 (0+0+2)
    9th: 3 (X+X+3)
    The Angels never got more than 3 runs in the first six innings — and only 2 runs in first six in two of the games. Boston supposedly had one of the best bullpens in the majors, so you’d think that the 7th-8th-9th ought to have built on those quality starts. Instead the starters either were kept in too long or the bullpen coughed up way too many runs. The inability to shut down the Angels when they got a rally going — those three three-run innings (one per game) — really hurt.
    So If one were speculating about what would have improved this outcome, I’d say the fault lay with the lineup failing to produce in two games, and the pen coughing up late runs and failing to strand inherited runners, more than any big issue with the starting pitching.
    To put this another way:
    Say we’d had Halladay in Game 1, and Lee in Game 2. The Sox did not score in the former and only scored once in the latter. So Roy would have had to have thrown a complete-game shutout just to get us to extra innings in Game 1, and Lee would have had to have done the same to win Game 2.

    Hudson October 12, 2009, 5:44 pm
  • > Say we’d had Halladay .. and Lee
    I’d say there’s a good possibility the Sox would have been playing a team out of the central and the yanks would have played the Halos.

    attackgerbil October 12, 2009, 5:58 pm
  • Starting pitching is not the Sox’s problem — they have an extremely solid rotation — their 1-4, if healthy, may well be the best all around in the majors.
    I agree with Hudson that one of their big problems is a lack of a real, big time elite hitter. Granted that type of hitter is not exactly easy to obtain, but I would argue that the most of the of WS winners over the last decade have had at least one great power hitter in the middle of their lineup (which I would define as 40+ HRs and an OPS of at least .900, preferably higher) — Howard for the Phillies, Manny+Ortiz for the Sox, Pujols for the Cardinals, Konerko for the White Sox etc. etc. It’s not the end-all-be-all of winning championships by any means, but it helps a lot. I have no idea how to solve this problem. Bay is the closest they have, but he is someone who would ideally be hitting behind one of those elite hitters as protection rather than filling the role.
    I have no idea how to solve the bullpen problem, but it is a problem. Too many power arms that couldn’t keep if up for a full season. It’s hard to see how the ‘pen could get much better though, beyond better managing. It was very frustrating to see their biggest strength become their biggest weakness late in the season.
    Right now the Sox are pretty much the ultimate moneyball team — tons of high OBP guys, almost all guys you would want on your team if given a choice. I’m just not sure moneyball can really win championships.

    Ethan-SF October 12, 2009, 6:12 pm
  • Also, I think the talk around Papelbon right now is more caused by emotion and disappointment than real rational thinking. Bard is not ready to close yet. Papelbon, while he was not as dominant as in years past, still had an excellent season. I personally believe that he is not 100%, but we will see.

    Ethan-SF October 12, 2009, 6:18 pm
  • Hudson, don’t you know that the ability to drive in runners is meaningless? ;)

    AndrewYF October 12, 2009, 6:19 pm
  • “… I’m just not sure moneyball can really win championships. …” …and that’s why ethan, the billy beane oakland a’s didn’t win too many, uh, if any…in fact he won 1 ALDS in ’06…
    “…I’m glad I’m not Theo…” ….or tito….i don’t see anybody on the current roster of sox, at the price, that anybody would want…this excludes ped, youk, lester, bard, ells, maybe beckett and yes, pap, and that’s about it…you guys had a great season, and have a great core, but it feels like a major transition is in store…

    dc October 12, 2009, 7:13 pm
  • andrew, you’ve got it wrong man…driving in runs is “irrelevant”
    hahahahahahahahahahaha
    that just kills me every time i think about it…and the ridiculous argument we had over it…it’s amazing really…can’t….stop….laughing….

    dc October 12, 2009, 7:16 pm
  • This from (hahaha, I love that I get to write this) the Globe’s Pete Abes:
    Theo Epstein and Terry Francona just did a 40-minute autopsy on the season. The highlights:
    • Epstein said he expects John Farrell to be back as pitching coach. When Cleveland asked for permission to speak to Farrell about their managerial vacancy, Farrell told Epstein his desire was to stay in Boston. This might be the most significant development of the day.
    • Houston asked to speak with first base coach Tim Bogar and bench coach Brad Mills about their managerial opening and were given permission. There is a large field for that job. It’s also not a great job given the impatience of owner Drayton McLane.
    • Epstein said it was safe to “pencil in” Clay Buchholz for the 2010 rotation.
    • They want Tim Wakefield back and the expectation is he would make “some” starts. Wakefield’s surgery is expected to be later this week.
    • Victor Martinez is the catcher, period. As Epstein said, that was the expectation when they traded for him. “He’s about as good as it gets,” the GM said. As for Jason Varitek, discussions will be held.
    • Epstein termed the Jason Bay negotiations unusual in that the team wants the player back and the player wants to come back, yet no deal has been reached. The Red Sox could well make a deal before Bay enters the market. But history suggests that any player who gets this close to free agency usually takes the opportunity. It’s difficult to get a gauge of your worth until there’s a market for it. Given the lack of depth in the market, Bay could drive his price up.
    • Epstein said that 2010 could be the last chance for the core players to “make a run” before significant changes are made. While the Sox do not have many MLB-ready players in AAA, they have prospects who could be ready by 2011.
    • Epstein said it was possible that Alex Gonzalez could be back at shortstop. But he spoke highly of Jed Lowrie and the need not to lose faith in young players. Still, as Epstein said, Lowie has yet to prove he can stay healthy in the majors.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 9:53 pm
  • “One of their big problems is a lack of a real, big time elite hitter.”
    The problem is, there’s only a handful of these guys out there. Howard, Pujols, Rodriguez and, this year, Horse Face Tex.
    Manny, it appears, now that he’s no longer on PEDs, is off the list. Ditto Ortiz. Bay is no elite hitter. Youkilis falls short. Adrian Gonzo? Perhaps. Miguel Cabrera? Close, but no. Torii Hunter? Sometimes. Kendry Morales might be on his way.
    (I’m on a mental fishing expedition. … feel free to use that on a T-shirt.)
    I can’t think of too many I would call “elite.”
    Assuming we are in the post-PED era, the term “elite hitter” will contine to be redefined for awhile.
    Mauer and Morneau. Can’t forget them. After last year I would have expected the smug Evan Longoria to be there after this year but too many GIDPs and Ks. Markakis has potential. …

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 10:11 pm
  • “> Say we’d had Halladay .. and Lee
    I’d say there’s a good possibility the Sox would have been playing a team out of the central and the yanks would have played the Halos.”
    Again, starting pitching wasn’t the problem. It wouldn’t have helped the fact that the Sox scored one measly run in the first two games.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 10:13 pm
  • >>I’d say there’s a good possibility the Sox would have been playing a team out of the central and the yanks would have played the Halos.
    I dunno, I kind of doubt that less than half a season of Halliday/Lee would have made up the very large difference in the Sox/Yanx won-lost records.

    Hudson October 12, 2009, 10:15 pm
  • Check out the results of this fan poll from the Globe. what is very tell to me is how the attitude of the fan base has change since 2004. If this had happened in 2003, New England would have been freakin’ suicidal.
    How bad was the Red Sox’ loss in Game 3 on Sunday?
    A bad memory just until spring 54.1%
    No biggie – the better team won 30.8%
    Worst since Buckner 15.1%
    Total votes: 2897

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 10:18 pm
  • (To hear Theo talk, one would get the feeling that the Boston lineup and rotation will be identical next year. But given what just happened with the Angels, Tek and Ortiz falling off cliffs, and the near certainty that some major component of both the lineup and rotation will get injured next Spring, I’m not buying it. One thing that seems almost certain is that the Sox will give at least a couple of new so-so middle relievers a whirl.)

    Hudson October 12, 2009, 10:23 pm
  • And who wants to anoint Jed Lowrie?

    I'mBillMcNeal October 12, 2009, 10:30 pm
  • “…Theo Epstein and Terry Francona just did a 40-minute autopsy on the season. The highlights:…”
    sounds like an excellent plan ;)

    dc October 12, 2009, 10:43 pm
  • Your solution for a hitter would be to get Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Ricky Nolasco Anibal Sanchez for Daniel Bard, Clay Buccholz, Michael Bowden, Reymond Fuentes, Josh Reddick, Junichi Tazawa. The Florida Marlins are looking to cut payroll again as they had one of the worst attendance in the majors during the recession. I’m a lifetime Yankee fan but if the Red Sox don’t replace their aging players with good young ones we won’t have great games when the Yankees play the Red Sox. Cheap Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson are looking to cut payroll this off season. I only wished that the Red Sox had beaten the Angels as I was looking forward to a Yankees-Red Sox series.

    ralphgmiami October 13, 2009, 2:42 am
  • Here’s a quote from an interesting post on roster construction theory. It’s from a Mariners site, but it applies to the Sox as well:
    “Premium players are great. But you have to be careful not to ascribe more value to them than they actually have. Building a team around a few really good players is one way to build a winning team, but it also introduces a higher level of risk than diversifying equal value over the entire roster. One way is not necessarily better or worse than the other. You can win with a core group of stars surrounded by competent role players (the 2009 Cardinals, for instance) or you can with a whole lot of good players and few great ones (the 2009 Angels).
    Either way can work, as long as you execute it correctly and value players the right way. You can either bet on a few great players or a bunch of good ones, and both roads can lead to success. The key is correctly discerning how good a player is and what kind of value they really add.”

    http://ussmariner.com/2009/10/12/roster-construction-theor/

    SoxFan October 13, 2009, 9:16 am
  • Part of the problem is trying to construct a team to do well vs. trying to construct a team explicitly to win the World Series.
    Right now, the Red Sox are built to perform well and (probably) get into the post-season. Even in the AL East, a 2010 Boston team that was basically identical to the team right now would win a lot of games and be a favorite to at least get the Wild Card.
    You can build a team around young players, high OBP, and a uniformly high level of talent but no big names, and do very well during the year, when there’s time for all those averages to balance out. And sometimes that team will do very well in the post-season. If nothing else, over the course of a few years that team’s going to make it into October quite a bit, and is bound to be successful eventually.
    Those teams, however, are not dominating. Under pressure from the media, fans, etc., teams want to be dominating. That requires plunking down lots of money on an elite starter, and probably an elite hitter or two, guys who are terrifyingly good and who can single-handedly change the course of a series. But once you start going that way, you run the risk of becoming the ’01-’08 Yankees.
    I think it’ll be interesting to see which direction Boston takes. All things considered, this is a good team. They don’t need a wholesale rebuild. They have a core of good starters, including two aces. Their bullpen needs work, but then bullpens always need work year to year. And their offense scored 872 runs this year, third in the AL. It has holes, obviously, but it’s still putting up runs.
    Solidify the line-up a bit, fix the bullpen, and this team will do very well next year but may not be much better in October. Or you go out, get some big names, and cross your fingers.
    PS. I doubt they’ll trade Paps, but I don’t think it’d be a terrible idea. Not because he’s past his prime, though he might be. Like Paul has said, his trade value is at its peak right now. He may fix everything and come back next year his old self, but he might not. Getting the most value from a trade wouldn’t be an awful idea.

    Rex Manning Day October 13, 2009, 10:32 am
  • “Part of the problem is trying to construct a team to do well vs. trying to construct a team explicitly to win the World Series.”
    After a 16-hour flight with an early connection tomorrow, I’m in the hotel computer room, delirious and taking in all the day’s action on the site.
    This quote stands out to me because I basically disagree with it, which maybe puts me in the “the play-offs are a crapshoot” category. The Sox seem to me to be one of those teams that was well constructed for a world series run if we are following the mantra of our day “pitching wins championships”. Statistically speaking, they were the best starting rotation in the AL. They had a balanced line-up as well. So if we’re just looking superficially, at roster design, they seemed a team explicitly built for the world series. They were good enough to make the play-offs and they had two aces and an amazing bullpen.

    Nick-YF October 13, 2009, 10:45 am
  • I agree, sometimes even with aces you just lose. Look at poor St Louis and their two possible Cy Young winners starting Game 1 and 2, and ended up getting swept. Some unlucky (Holliday) some unclutch, and maybe it was the hitting, but yaaaaaa.

    Lar October 13, 2009, 10:52 am
  • Sign Holiday or Bay.
    Trade Paps for Lee
    Entice a one year deal to Wagner
    Give Papi away for movie tickets and a coke.
    Move Lowell to full time DH
    Begin grooming Bard.
    Problems solved.
    Whatever the case, I’m completely on board (as I have been for months) to move Papelbon. Bard is a clearly superior pitcher to him in every category sans experience.

    Brad October 13, 2009, 11:04 am
  • ‘…This quote stands out to me because I basically disagree with it, which maybe puts me in the “the play-offs are a crapshoot” category….”
    i’m right there with you nick…i’ve made the crapshoot analogy so many times, some of these guys want to do just that…not so much that it’s a “crapshoot”, although that sums it up…moreso, it’s that the margin for error is so slim…during the season, you can afford a 3 game losing streak…not so in the playoffs…
    there’s nothing inherently wrong with a team that won over 90 games, except being in a division with a team that won over 100…the sox tied the dodgers for 3rd best record in the majors…the angels had 2 more wins…the sox lost to the angels because they suffered from a malady that stikes the best of them: they didn’t hit, with all due respect to the angels pitchers…that and the one opportunity their closer had to extend the series didn’t end well…i recall that happening to rivera a couple of times too, so it’s not worth harping on…sure there are some flaws here and there that need to be tweaked, but i wouldn’t go nuts…let’s see what theo does…the only reason the yanks aren’t at home on the couch watching football with the sox is because they had a chance to be aggressive last year with free agents and they did it, taking some heat for spending all that money during a recession…our most glaring weaknesses were 1b/dh and starting pitching, and cashman opened the vaults for the best guys available…the difference for a change, our free agents didn’t implode upon arrival in nyc…i’m not saying that throwing a bag of money at it is the answer for the sox, because they tend to look for more creative solutions…as with the yanks though, sometimes the gamble pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t…side note, but relevant: it was particularly painful watching carl pavano prove he could pitch the other night…

    dc October 13, 2009, 11:35 am
  • The mood on Papelbon among many sfs continues to surprise me. I had it explained to me on an earlier thread by Paul and other sfs and I’m sure the Game 3 implosion only added to the ire, but the guy continues to be one of the top 3-5 closers in all of baseball, no? Every closer who throws as many post-season 9th innings as Papelbon has thrown will eventually have a bad October experience. Mariano had arguably the worst imaginable – blowing a WS Game 7 close.
    I get that the issue with Papelbon may be the money he wants and also what Paul mentioned earlier – which was news to me – that Papelbon had started fiddling with his delivery to avoid and/or compensate for injury. That is indeed a red flag. But if you’re talking purely about performance, I would not put Bard (yet) and definitely not Wagner (ever) on par with Papelbon. The former not only needs more IPs but also needs CLOSING experience. And the latter is – I believe – Hoffman-like in his ability to rack up saves but implode in critical games.

    IronHorse October 13, 2009, 11:40 am
  • dc: on pavano, take a look at his numbers in the 3 games vs. the Yankees this year. He dominated them (pitched them better than he pitched any team all year), though the Yankees eventually broke through against the Twins pen and got the win every time. Indeed, frustrating to watch how good he is/can be.

    IronHorse October 13, 2009, 11:42 am
  • FWIW Wagner is stating he’s going to retire, and doesn’t want to pitch next year.
    The thing with Papelbon (and relievers in general) how much of your budget do you want tied up in their contracts? For a big market team, it’s not as much of a concern, but there’s only a couple of them out there. Seattle did well with Aardsma, and he made peanuts in comparison.
    I think Papelbon is putting his legacy cart before the long-term performance horse.

    dw (sf) October 13, 2009, 12:02 pm
  • But if you’re talking purely about performance, I would not put Bard (yet) and definitely not Wagner (ever) on par with Papelbon..
    I wasn’t. I was talking more about ability and talent than performance. He’s young, and he’s sure to hit bumps, but he’s clearly the most talented pitcher in that bullpen, and it’s not even close.
    My problem with Pap is that I watched his decline this year, he allowed so many more walks, and just can’t throw a breaking pitch of any kind. He’s going to demand a king’s ransom, which he won’t get in Boston, and he’s made every spring for the past three years about his contract (and rightfully so from his standpoint), but I think Bard is a physicall superior pitcher, who at any rate, doesn’t come with Paps contract situation.
    If the Red Sox wait on moving him, they’re only going to get less than they will now. As his contract winds down, teams will look toward Bard before Paps because of exactly what I’m saying.
    I say that if you can move Paps for Lee or Werth, or any number of other interesting moves, you have to do it, and do it now.

    Brad October 13, 2009, 12:06 pm
  • Plus, I hold zero reservation that Papelbon’s contract will be given to him from New York (when that time comes), so rather than watch yet another player leave Boston for New York (hello, Johnny), I’d rather part ways now.
    Watching him leave Boston (after what will clearly be a contract year explosion), for New York is something I can do without.

    Brad October 13, 2009, 12:14 pm
  • Just to note, there was absolutely nothing inherently wrong with the 2001-2003 Yankees. The 2002-2003 Yankees, at least, were truly dominating teams, I would rank both inside the top 15 teams of the decade. They had an unyielding offense and a dominating pitching staff. That they didn’t win the World Series has much more to do with the cruelty of a short series than any kind of deficiency (well, there was a management deficiency in 2003, the Sox don’t hold the monopoly on that one). It’s no wonder the Yankees fell hard from ’04 on, their dynasty was extended by costly free agent signings. Signing Contreras, Mussina, Giambi, those were not mistakes. It was not realizing that the run was over after the mass departure of the starting staff in ’03 that hurt them. Steinbrenner’s demand for Randy Johnson for the ’05 season is the best example of the wrong kind of thinking that was applied to the post-dynasty Yankees. Thankfully, with Cash at the helm, farm system restocked and producing, a manager who buys into the system, and no more interference from the Boss, and of course, the top three from the best free agent class we will likely see for a long time along for the ride, the Yankees look to be right back on track.

    AndrewYF October 13, 2009, 12:19 pm
  • I don’t know why everyone is saying New York is Papelbon’s eventual destination. If Rivera is still closing after next year (very possible), then they won’t be handing out a high-priced multi-year contract to a middle reliever. Much less a middle reliever who is drastically declining. New York is much too smart for that.
    I think the same goes for Mauer. He’s one of the biggest catchers ever to play the game, at 6’5″. He’s never really been injury-free, even at a young age. The Yankees aren’t going to commit $200 million to a guy who might not even be able to catch 3 years into the deal. Besides, he’s going to sign with Minnesota.

    AndrewYF October 13, 2009, 12:25 pm
  • Rob, WEEI doesn’t necessarily represent the best of the Sox fanbase, just like WFAN doesn’t necessarily represent the best of the Yankee fanbase.
    My solution is to simply not listen to sports radio if I can help it, or else don’t take it too seriously.
    Otherwise, your analysis is pretty spot-on, except I think Papelbon stays where he is. And, I don’t think Youkilis is a good long-term solution at third. No doubt he can play there, but he is much more valuable at first, where his defense truly is a plus. Unless the Sox want to try to have all of Victor, Youkilis and Mauer playing a position in 2011, which would be ridiculously expensive but also ridiculously valuable.

    AndrewYF October 13, 2009, 1:36 pm
  • “This quote stands out to me because I basically disagree with it…”
    I was talking more about the suggestions for next year than how Boston was built this year. The suggestions for the Sox to go out and get an “elite hitter” are largely based on the belief that such a player is necessary for the postseason, not the regular season.
    Nor did I say there was anything inherently wrong with recent Yankees teams. The problem I was pointing out was that when you start saying that big name, elite players are the key to making your team capable of winning the postseason, you run the risk of relying too much on plugging holes with those players rather than building the foundation of a good team.
    I think by and large, it’s impossible to design a team specifically for the postseason, just as I disagree with the “common wisdom” of what teams are best in October. I think that if you build a team to be competitive year in, year out, then they’re bound to do well in the postseason eventually.

    Rex Manning Day October 13, 2009, 1:39 pm
  • Agreed on Mauer staying in MIN Andrew. He has repeatedly said he is not looking for the biggest payday and yes, in his case I believe him. Yanks should increase Cervelli’s time next year and see how he does once pitchers get a book on him.
    I’d be surprised if Mo stays after 2010. He strikes me as a go-out-on-top kind of guy, he has had to work harder this year then ever before to recuperate from off-season surgery, and as stellar as he is, there is only so much more drop-off in his velocity that he can take.
    Man, no matter how many times it comes up or how often I consider it, the prospect of 9th innings without “Enter Sandman” is nausea-inducing.

    IronHorse October 13, 2009, 1:39 pm
  • I don’t know why you’d want to trade what’s left of the Sox farm for an older pitcher..
    I meant sign Mat Holliday, not Roy Halladay, and he’s a free agent, and Lee for Papelbon is a good move for this year, since at the end of this year, they’re both free to go, and in Papelbon’s case, will do so.

    Brad October 13, 2009, 2:42 pm
  • Brad, who is this Lee you mention? Surely you can’t mean Cliff Lee, the Phillies wouldn’t be able to stop laughing if Theo called them with that. Do you mean Derrek Lee?
    And Papelbon is under indentured servitude until 2011.

    AndrewYF October 13, 2009, 3:58 pm
  • Rex, got ya. I didn’t mean to be dismissive of your comment in any way. Sorry about that.
    To address one of the bigger points of this thread: What will Theo do? The Sox off-season is going to be very interesting. I can see the arguments for either keeping of letting Bay walk. I’m guessing Varitek is gone, although maybe he’d be willing to back up which wouldn’t be the worst option in the world. Otherwise, the pitching, in my opinion, is set. The question for me is what Theo will do on the positional side of things.

    Nick-YF October 13, 2009, 7:57 pm
  • Does any reasonable poster here really think the Billy Wagner could successfully close in the AL East for a full season?
    Fellas, calm down. Ain’t happening. It remains Paps’ job next year UNLESS the Sox REALLY feel (and I doubt they do) that Bard is ready to take over AND they can get a helluva return on a deal for Paps.

    Can’t see Carlos Lee hitting in the AL East, either. Ditto Matt Holliday. I think the new DH is probably Mike Lowell.
    Can’t run, but he still can rake. And a year removed from that surgery should help him. I want Lowell to stick around, too. the guy’s guts have guts.

    Matsui’s kind of intriguing, but if the Yanks don’t want him …

    Abreau also is intriguing, but he’s 38.

    No one offered up on my suggestion about a deal for Soriano at DH.

    Tek = Rocking chair. I mean, really. Thanks for the memories, Cap, but time to start priming you to replace Farrell.

    SS: Gonzo, Gonzo, Gonzo. Lowie opens the year at Utility. Enough JJ talk, please. Again, ain’t happening. (Did I say Gonzo will be the SS next year?) Also, I think Gonzo is still under contract for 2010. I think.

    Rotation doesn’t need a thing except for Beckett to stay healthy. But if Theo could add King Felix …

    Pen: Keep Saito. Keep Ram2. Give MDC an ultimatum. He was awful from August on. (did anyone else get sick of the talkers continually referring to the quality of the Sox pen all year, completely ignoring the fact that they were resting on the dominant April-May-June numbers well after it went to Stinksville after the AS break?

    I'mBillMcNeal October 13, 2009, 9:36 pm
  • “No one offered up on my suggestion about a deal for Soriano at DH.”
    IBM, as someone who had Sori on his fantasy team this season, I’d say you should stay away from the guy. There has been discussion on a lot of baseball sites about whether Soriano is in fact the owner of the worst contract in baseball. It’s gotten to the point where Giants fans wouldn’t trade Zito for him.
    I hadn’t thought about it but Hideki Matsui coming to the Sox would really bum me out.

    Nick-YF October 14, 2009, 4:36 am
  • First, I wholeheartedly disagree with Ethan’s contention that the Sox need an elite hitter.
    Kevin Youkilis finished second in the league and sixth in the game in OPS, ahead of Teixeira, Rodriguez, Cabrera, Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. If the definition of an elite hitter is to hit 40 home runs, then the AL had no elite hitters in 2009, which is intuitively untrue.
    We shouldn’t forget the Sox finished third in the league in offense, and that their offensive core includes three of the Top 10 hitters in the AL (by OPS) this season. The biggest offensive problem was hitting on the road, and that was arguably confined to three hitters, one of whom (Varitek) lost his starting job in August. Another (Ortiz) is not really someone the Sox can do anything about. The third (Lowell) encapsulates the problem the Sox face this offseason — a pressing need with a lot of money already tied up in the position.
    Far more than the offense, the Sox’ defense cost them the series with the Angels, particularly in Game 3, and throughout the season. Some of that is also entrenched. Ellsbury one hopes will start reading the ball better with more experience. Unless the Sox are willing to spend a mint to outbid the Yankees for Matt Holliday, they’ll have to make do with Bay the Butcher in left for another year before sliding him to DH.
    But the left side of the infield was a mess offensively and defensively all year long, and that’s where any overhaul really needs to take place. And that includes Alex Gonzalez, whose great hands and arm make him look so good but cover up for his mediocre-and-declining range (Derek Jeter would be proud). My suggestions:
    1. Re-sign Bay. Sure, I’d prefer Holliday, which might not be a huge step up on offense, but would be a significant improvement defensively. But with two other big-pocket teams in need, it ain’t happening.
    2. Trade for JJ Hardy. Hardy had such a terrible year he was demoted, and now finds himself behind a hot Brewers SS prospect on the depth chart. He could probably be had fairly cheaply, is a solid defender, and is only a year removed from a pair of great seasons. The fact is, he’s not going to be any worse with a bat than Lugo/Green/Gonzo, and could in fact be much better, while we know he is going to be a good deal better with the glove (1.4 WAR last year despite the horrible year at the plate because of his solid defense).
    3. Sign Chone Figgins. The Sox need a big boost defensively, and Figgins together with Hardy would (with Pedroia and Youkilis) give the Sox one of the best defensive infields in the game. He may not replicate his 2009 at the plate, but he doesn’t need to. He’s a good bet to provide league-average offense (and, really, that’s all we can expect from Lowell after four years with the following OPS+: 104, 124, 103, 104), and his speed and new-found ability to walk mean OPS/OPS+ are likely significantly underestimating Figgins’ value. Could mean some other GMs will, as well.
    Can’t get Figgins? Adrian Beltre is coming off a bad season but still just 30 years old, and his defense at third is even better than Figgins’. He’s also a free agent, and coming as he is off a bad year, may be quite a bit cheaper.
    4. For the annual pitching reclamation project, sign Rich Harden, who is a good bet not to provide a full season’s worth of starts, but is a great bet to provide good value in however many starts he does make. Brandon Webb is also a good choice if the D-backs don’t exercise their option.

    Paul SF October 14, 2009, 8:35 am
  • Started a new thread with the above comment up top.

    Paul SF October 14, 2009, 8:48 am
  • the thing i remember most about soriano’s days in new york was that he had good power numbers and speed…he came close to 40/40 in ’02, and later got it in ’06 with wash…he had a swing at anything approach with tons of strikeouts, and he wouldn’t take a walk if his life depended on it…i don’t think his style, with a lifetime .278/.326/.510 line, injury issues, and contract, $18m/yr through ’14 make him a good fit with theo’s philosophy…
    i agree with everyone who’s saying that pap won’t be dealt…there’s not a better option…not sure why he keeps bitching about money…he makes $6.25 …my gut tells me that bard isn’t ready yet, but my gut’s been wrong before…
    matsui has said that he wants to remain a yankee…he might retire rather than go to another team, especially the sox…he gets the whole rivalry thing…besides, if the price is right, given the decent year he and damon had, don’t be surprised if they’re both back in pinstripes, assuming cash can get a discount from both of them…

    dc October 14, 2009, 8:55 am

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