The Autopsy Continues

Last time, I posted some of the pie-in-the-sky stuff (Trade Papelbon! Get Fielder!), so let's look at some more realistic steps the Red Sox can take that could significantly improve their team. As Theo Epstein said, it's a weak free agent class, but I see at least four that the Sox should be at least making offers on. We'll get there in a second.

First, the Sox do not need an "elite hitter," whatever that is, because they already have one.

Kevin Youkilis finished second in the league and sixth in the game in OPS, ahead of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. 

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 as he gains 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 in left for another year before sliding him to DH and clearing space for Ryan Kalish or Josh Reddick.

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). 

If I were GM of the Red Sox, here's what I would do after the jump.

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. Though the Sox should certainly make an effort.

2. Trade for J.J. 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 (.395 OBP!) 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 is 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.

The Sox are limited in the ways they can remake their offense. In fact, none of these options is a sure thing to improve the offensive production from shortstop or third base. But that really wasn't the problem this season. Limiting the plate appearances given to Lowell and Ortiz may be addition by subtraction, especially on the road, but 2009 was the year the Sox ceded their usual superiority with their gloves. This would be a way to get that back while still fielding a top-3 pitching staff and top-5 offense.

78 comments… add one

  • I’m all for improving the defense, especially with the quality pitching we have. Two of the “errors” during the ALDS should have been outs (I’m looking at you, Bucknor), but it still doesn’t excuse the bad throws.
    I’ve always been really big on Figgins, especially since he can–and has–played pretty much every position. Not to mention the fact that he’s averaging 48 stolen bases per season.
    I’m not completely sold on Hardy, but he should be cheap considering his performance last year. Barring an injury Escobar is the Brewers starting SS. Snag him up, Theo. Since Gonzalez is still under contract for 2010 what do you do with him? He’s never played anywhere else than SS, so he wouldn’t be as good a utility infielder as Lowrie. So do you trade him? Drop him entirely?
    Holliday is a Boras client, so there’s no way the Sox should get involved in another bidding war for him. Resign Bay, and resign him quickly.

    Atheose October 14, 2009, 9:31 am
  • This team was definately a poster child for “why errors don’t measure defense”. UZR has them middle of the pack, surprisingly ahead of the Yankees (is Damon that bad?).
    Deffensive efficiency had them at the bottom (not park adjusted) the Yankees were 7th.

    dw (sf) October 14, 2009, 9:37 am
  • fter all that the offense still isn’t markedly improved. Since the Sox got shut down by good not great pitchers, I don’t see how that helps. You admit as such, but even limiting Lowell and Ortiz to a platoon DH they still need to get more offense in somehow.
    Hardy isn’t better than Lowrie, so why give up prospects from a thin farm? They don’t have to trade him and he’s still inexpensive.
    There will be competition for Figgins. Beltre’s glove is sound. Still, they’d get more offense with Nick Johnson and the same defense with Youkilis.
    One intriguing option: Carlos Beltran. It looks like he’ll be on the block. Trade Buchholz plus Reddick and that could get the job done. He’s overpriced, yes, but he’s still very valuable and it’s only two years.

    Jazz YF October 14, 2009, 9:39 am
  • Beltran wasn’t a great fit in Safeco field. I bet he’d do well in Fenway. Of course, that defeats the whole – we need to hit better on the road thing

    dw (sf) October 14, 2009, 9:42 am
  • of course I meant Beltre – Beltran definately wasn’t fitting in Safeco! :)

    dw (sf) October 14, 2009, 9:44 am
  • Hardy isn’t better than Lowrie.
    I think Hardy’s year was a down year for him. Overall, I do think he’s better than Lowrie on both sides of the bump.
    I’m all for Beltre at third. He’s great defensively, has a cannon of an arm, and I do think he’ll hit.
    Why is FA John Lackey not being considered? I think if the Sox are going to make a big signing, I’d rather that money go to him than anyone else. I’m sure he’ll demand a king’s ransom, but signing him would relieve some of the pressure of possibly losing Beckett next year, and gives the Sox an awesome rotation out of the gate.
    A rotation of Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Buchholz and Dice would make me very happy for next year. I’m pretty much freaking done with guys who “provide quality when they do start” while all the while expecting them to not start on a regular basis. I’m sick of the “reclamation projects” all together. Go get the best pitcher on the table, and have something you can count on.
    Oh, and please don’t invite Wakefield back – regardless of what you think he gives you.

    Brad October 14, 2009, 10:04 am
  • Hardy isn’t better than Lowrie, so why give up prospects from a thin farm?
    Lol at thinking Hardy isn’t better than Lowrie.

    Atheose October 14, 2009, 10:10 am
  • Okay, so who do you trade for Hardy. You think the Sox are the only team that could use a decent two-way SS? And since the Brewers don’t have to trade him?
    Start with Buchholz.
    Really, you’re going to trade him for a guy who put up a 74 OPS+ in the NL Central in what should have been a peak season?

    Jazz YF October 14, 2009, 10:14 am
  • “…Far more than the offense, the Sox’ defense cost them the series with the Angels, particularly in Game 3, and throughout the season. …”
    agree that the defense just didn’t ‘seem’ as reliable this year…but, i’m not sure i agree that it cost them “far more” than the lack of offense in the playoffs…while the sox made 3 errors in game one, they also scored 0 runs…followed by 0 errors and 1 run in game 2…i realize that there are other ways to measure defensive efficiency [see 'jeter.range'], but errors are a big deal, as we saw…they add outs, and cost runs…
    i do agree with your assessment of youk as an “elite”, whatever that is, hitter…he’s one of the best, as you point out…could they use someone to complement him, since ortiz seems to be less consistent?…maybe, but it doesn’t look like lars is ready yet…but as you point out, the sox had a strong offense this year…they stumbled in the playoffs, it happens, so i agree that a major reconstruction is overkill…
    also agree that the left side of the infield is the weak link…i love lowell, but he’s not as dependable, probably because his body is breaking down…and you need a permanent solution at ss…i can’t argue with your proposal there…
    brad makes a good point about getting another dependable starting pitcher [no more smoltz/penney wastes of time and money]…i love wakefield, but it’s hard to believe he’s not done, you can’t be sure which dice-k will show up, and i’m not completely sold on buck yet…

    dc October 14, 2009, 10:30 am
  • The Sox also wouldn’t let Figgins runs as much (74% SB). Personally, I hope the Yankees sign Figgins – as a LF/CF and sub for keeping A-Rod fresh. And since the Sox have much bigger concerns, the Yankees just might.

    Jazz YF October 14, 2009, 10:37 am
  • Paul, in blithely dismissing the need to add an elite hitter, you conveniently forget that the 3rd best offense by OPS scored a grand total of ONE runnin the first two games of the ALDS.
    Regular season stats alone don’t win playoff games, because they reflect performance against *all* teams, not the best teams.
    Moreover, the point some of is made was that the 2004/2007 team had not one but *two* insanely great jitters stacked up next to each other in the lineup (MannyOrtiz in their prime). Put high OBP guys around them and you can win some World Series.
    But if the stathead approach is overdone, you get teams who walk and hit singles a lot, but who do dramatically worse away from doubles-friendly Fenway.
    Youks alone can’t do what Ramirez and Papi could in the offseason. You need a combo to compete with the likes of Arod/Teixiera, whose presence changes the way the entire lineup is approached.

    Hudson October 14, 2009, 11:12 am
  • you conveniently forget that the 3rd best offense by OPS scored a grand total of ONE runnin the first two games of the ALDS.
    Eh, shit happens. We should hope that our GM doesn’t manage based on wearing blinders and getting caught up with two games in Anaheim, one against one of the better pitchers in the AL. Small sample size, and add in the fact that the Sox had the home field disadvantage and were facing a GOOD TEAM, so it goes.
    I am not a big fan of over-reading a playoff loss. I’d rather look at the big picture, as Paul has done, and then make rational decisions about where to go. Boiling down the Sox’ problems by only looking at what happened those first two games in Anaheim (remember, they had the third game won, and didn’t lose because of the bats) is really foolish.

    SF October 14, 2009, 11:33 am
  • Start with Buchholz.
    hahaha. That’s funny.

    Brad October 14, 2009, 11:58 am
  • I love Lowrie. He should be given every chance to win and keep the starting job in spring training. But he has yet to show he can have a healthy month in MLB, never mind a healthy season. You can’t plan on him being the starter until he proves he can be the starter. Epstein said as much.
    The Sox are really limited on what they can do offensively. It’s going to be interesting what, if anything, Theo does here. Hardy and Figgins both represent potential upgrades at the plate and certain upgrades in the field. I would argue they represent almost-certain upgrades at the plate compared to what we can legitimately expect out of a full season from Lowell and Gonzalez in 2010.

    Paul SF October 14, 2009, 1:10 pm
  • I have a crazy idea – why not just freaking sign the SS we let go a few years ago. All he does is win, and is uber dependable.
    Just sayin.

    Brad October 14, 2009, 2:49 pm
  • Brad you mean O-Cab? for some reason he seems to float from team to team, must be something behind that.

    dw (sf) October 14, 2009, 2:51 pm
  • Outbid the Yankees for Holliday? I get it because we spend money that means we get every big name free agent. Yankees won’t be in that mix, just a hunch.

    John -YF October 14, 2009, 3:32 pm
  • Yeah, I agree dw, but I think part of the reason he floats is because he has value to winning teams (like this year) and brings value back to teams he’s on.
    I’m sure he does have issues, but do those issues trump the issues of Jed Lowrie or Gonzo or any combo therein?

    Brad October 14, 2009, 3:32 pm
  • “Lowrie or Gonzo or any combo therein”
    Lonzo?
    Glowrie?
    Gon (er) rie (ah)?

    IronHorse October 14, 2009, 3:55 pm
  • Ok, let me rephrase: An elite POWER hitter. Doesn’t seem that the Sox will be able to get one though.

    Ethan-SF October 14, 2009, 4:10 pm
  • I was actually surprised at Gonzo’s UZR numbers this year (small sample warning). I thought they’d be lower in the range component. Maybe he’s one player who likes the Boston infield…. He’s to expensive at 6 mil per year though.

    dw (sf) October 14, 2009, 4:34 pm
  • “Outbid the Yankees for Holliday? I get it because we spend money that means we get every big name free agent. Yankees won’t be in that mix, just a hunch.”
    We should be detecting sarcasm there, right? Either Holliday or Bay, they’ll be after one of them or some other big name to replace Damon. Jackson won’t be ready and Duncan will never be more than a AAAA player.

    ponch - sf October 14, 2009, 4:51 pm
  • The choice would be Damon on a short contract and holding onto a first round pick versus Bay or Holliday on a long-term bigger contract and the loss of a draft pick.
    The Yanks usually spend, so I think they’ll go for option 2, but is it a wise choice?

    Nick-YF October 14, 2009, 5:05 pm
  • Ok, let me rephrase: An elite POWER hitter.
    By traditional measures, Jason Bay finished tied for third in home runs and second in RBI. By more accurate measures, Youkilis finished fifth in slugging, higher than Cabrera, higher than Carlos Pena (who led the league in homers). Now he doesn’t have years upon years of slugging so well, but this is his second straight season with basically a .550 slugging average or better.
    Major League batters, ranked by slugging percentage, 2008-09, min. 1,000 PAs:
    1. Albert Pujols .656
    2. Manny Ramirez .571
    3. Mark Teixeira .562
    4. Kevin Youkilis .562
    5. Ryan Howard .558
    6. Prince Fielder .556
    7. Ryan Braun .554
    8. Alex Rodriguez .553
    9. Hanley Ramirez .543
    10. Lance Berkman .542

    12. Miguel Cabrera .541
    14. Jason Bay .532
    15. Adrian Gonzalez .530
    17. Matt Holliday .526
    19. Adam Dunn .523
    25. Carlos Pena .516
    Limit that list to players who have racked up 1,000 PAs in the American League over the last two years, and it narrows considerably… and No. 1 is Kevin Youkilis.
    Unless our criteria for “elite” is Albert Pujols and no one else, Youkilis is simply an elite hitter by any realistic standard at this point in his career.

    Paul SF October 14, 2009, 6:00 pm
  • yeah, but does he inspire fear?
    I’m kidding, of course, but this has to be at the root of the criticism that the Sox lack a true elite power hitter. That, or Youkilis is not Manny Ortiz in their peaks. But, of course, there have been plenty of championship teams that have had non super elite power hitters in their line-up. Just think about the Yanks teams of the 90’s. They had great hitters, but I guess you could argue they lacked any one elite power hitter at the time.
    A couple of thoughts about the Sox moving forward. I hope they haven’t been covered alreaady in this or the other thread.
    David Ortiz needs to bat many fewer times in 2010. He probably should be platooned. Would a Ortiz-Lowell platoon work? I’m not sure what right handed batters are on the market, who could be good platoon partners for him, but if there is one, that would be a nice cheap solution. Maybe Mike Cameron could do the job while providing outfield depth.
    I guess it would be selling low, but maybe Dice-K should be moved for a SS, especially if there is any truth to the idea that the relationship between him and management soured. Would Hardy and a top prospect be too much or too little for Matsuzaka?

    Nick-YF October 14, 2009, 6:13 pm
  • Brad — I think the opportunity to bring back Wakefield for 4 million dollars is worth the possible injury risk considering the flexibility he can give the rotation and bullpen (assuming he can pass a physical, that is).

    Clark SF October 14, 2009, 6:51 pm
  • No sarcasm, I don’t honestly think the Yankees will be in on Holliday or Bay. I suppose if they were going to go after one, it would be Bay. But honestly I don’t see them signing either. With Jackson, Swisher, Melky and Gardner, the Yankees have players there. I do however think they will in addition to those just named, sign Damon to a one year deal. It allows A-Jax time to develop and it also doesn’t expose the everyday flaws of Gardner and Melky. I do like Bay, but just don’t see it happening. Again, my gut feeling. I just don’t like how it’s assumed that the Yankees will go after the biggest name(s) because well it’s the biggest name(s) and because they are the Yankees. Not trying to start a war, just politely taking issue with the statement. BUT I can see where it would be justified, so I get it.

    John - YF October 14, 2009, 8:21 pm
  • Wakefield is coming back. Bank on it. He’s too cheap of an option not to, unless he has some serious injury.

    Atheose October 14, 2009, 9:01 pm
  • I predict the market for the Chonerator will be big. Talk here has the Cubs and ChiSox going after him. And why wouldn’t the Angels want him back? I haven’t heard Artie Moreno is looking to pare payroll, and although they have other keys heading to FA (Lackey), they also have Vlady coming off the books.
    And I, too, believe he would be a good fit on the Yankees and Red Sox.

    Here’s the other problem with JJ Hardy … aside from Lowrie, the Sox have Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias at SS in the minors. Now, Kelly still hasn’t decided between pitcher or SS, and isn’t projected to arrive until 2011, and Iglesias has an ETA of 2012.
    My hunch is that the Sox go with Gonzo next year and use Lowrie at utility.
    Also, I’m operating with the assumption that Theo use next year to set up for the big run in 2011, when Reddick, Kelly, Kalish and Anderson are expected to arrive.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 14, 2009, 11:20 pm
  • John, I see your position. It makes much sense. But my Red Sox fan mistrust of the Yankees FO tells me that the Yanks will make a run at Bay.

    I’d sooner bet on Lowell at DH than a Lowell/Ortiz platoon.

    Unless he retires, Wakefield will be back. He’s just a few wins shy of the Red Sox record. He’s been a good soldier. If nothing else, he’s a great insurance policy.

    If Dice-K is moved, it won’t be until spring training. He’s proved that if he sticks with the Sox shoulder program, he can be VERY effective. They’ll give him another shot. But if he shows up in camp looking like Terry Forster again, they’ll be looking to move him.

    Buchholz+ for Hardy? Really? Seriously? If you think I’m laughing, call that one in to Ordway or Felger.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 14, 2009, 11:33 pm
  • Casey Kelly is a standout prospect… as a pitcher. He might not realize that yet, but that’s what he’ll be. If the Lars Anderson saga over the past year has taught us anything is that we cannot make decisions at the MLB level for 2010 with any kind of expectation of what prospects will give us in 2011-12.
    If the Sox were able to acquire one of baseball’s best-hitting catchers at the trade deadline for a package that did not include Buchholz, they will certainly be able to avoid giving up Clay for J.J. Hardy. What would it cost? Not sure, but Matsuzaka would be far too much.
    I hear what you’re saying, John, but it wasn’t all that long ago that the Yankees were “happy” with Nick Swisher as their starting first baseman.

    Paul SF October 15, 2009, 12:56 am
  • I was thinking Matsuzaka for Hardy and a top prospect in their system. Or, Matsuzaka, Kelly and Anderson for Fielder and Hardy! Jet lag is doing the trick here.

    Nick-YF October 15, 2009, 3:16 am
  • V-Mart is neither young nor cheap. And since he’s not a very good catcher at actually catching the demand wasn’t there. Given the Sox’s situation, they had no choice. If he’s their full-time catcher in 2010, teams are going to run wild on him. 14% CS is horrid.
    Hardy is both young and cheap. They don’t have to trade him. And since his defense isn’t the issue, there will be other demand especially from other NL teams. You think the Sox are the only team that could use a decent two-way SS? Would you rather give up Buccholz or Bowden, Anderson, and Reddick? The Sox farm is already thin. And shortstops, especially one that have any history of above average MLB hitting, are very rare.
    I was thinking yesterday of Matsuzaka Anderson, and Reddick for Beltran. But that trade you propose, Nick, seems pretty good. Probably one more prospect from the Sox though. Still, not bad for jet lag! Do the Brewers have anyone that can replace Fielder?
    John, deep down I’m with you and for exactly the reasons you cite. There’s also Montero who will likely spend significant time at DH, perhaps as early as next year. A poor outfield defender, on a four or five year deal, doesn’t help. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them offer both Matsui and Damon one-year deals. Damon could think he could get more elsewhere. With his defense though, I’m skeptical.
    The Yankees signed Teixeira cause he was just sitting there. Had the bidding gone any higher, they couldn’t have. It was a stretch because they saw all the money coming off the books after this year. In 2010, they’ll be under 200 million. Bank on it.

    Jazz YF October 15, 2009, 8:20 am
  • “I was thinking yesterday of Matsuzaka Anderson, and Reddick for Beltran.”
    I love it when Yankee fans propose trades for the Red Sox. If this is sports talk radio, the reply would be, “CLICK. Hmmmmmmmm …”

    I'mBillMcNeal October 15, 2009, 8:42 am
  • flames everywhere!!!

    Brad October 15, 2009, 8:42 am
  • “The Yankees signed Teixeira cause he was just sitting there. Had the bidding gone any higher, they couldn’t have.”
    Um, yeah. When have the Yankees ever cut off bidding on any player? And when have the Red Sox over signed a player the Yankees wanted in free agency?

    I'mBillMcNeal October 15, 2009, 8:44 am
  • “Hardy isn’t better than Lowrie, so why give up prospects from a thin farm?”
    “You think the Sox are the only team that could use a decent two-way SS?”
    “And shortstops, especially one that have any history of above average MLB hitting, are very rare.”
    So essentially, you’ve gone from poo-pooing Hardy as someone who isn’t better than a guy who hasn’t played a full month yet, to a guy that is decent, to a guy that has a history of being above average with the bat and good defense?
    This is a classic case of just flame throwing because it’s something that the Sox need, so essentially you’re saying that they’ll need to give up their best pitching prospect in combination with a couple of their best hitting prospects for the move? Or maybe a guy that threw for 200ip and a shit load of K’s that’s coming off a bad year.
    Here’s the skinny: The Red Sox aren’t going to move Buchholz for Hardy in any move whatsoever that isn’t loaded with other players from the Brewers.
    Only in a Yankee universe do the Red Sox have to give up everything for JJ Hardy – especially in his year last year, where as you say: a weak NL.

    Brad October 15, 2009, 8:50 am
  • Ummmm, Dice-K? And since the Sox have a billionaire owner?
    Beltran would be a huge plus for the Sox.
    Teixeira WAS just sitting there. The Yankees certainly didn’t expect him to be. They had other priorities (i.e., pitching). And I bet Henry and Theo really thought they were done. Whoops!
    I love it when SFs think they can get any player for peanuts. Yeah, I bet the Brewers can’t wait to get Tazawa and Lowrie for Hardy.

    Jazz YF October 15, 2009, 8:55 am
  • “So essentially, you’ve gone from poo-pooing Hardy as someone who isn’t better than a guy who hasn’t played a full month yet, to a guy that is decent, to a guy that has a history of being above average with the bat and good defense? ”
    It’s called accepting the proposition for the sake of argument. I think Hardy isn’t very good. But if the Sox do, like you guys, you can bet other teams do as well. It’s not like the Brewers situation is somehow unknown. Everyone knows Hardy is available. Except they can sit on him, or even keep him in the minors, if they desire. There’s no need to move him.

    Jazz YF October 15, 2009, 8:58 am
  • The story goes that the Yankees, seeing an opening, put in a bid for $180 million. At the last minute, Boras told them to raise their bid or Tex was going to Boston. Cashman either called his bluff, or told Boras he simply couldn’t go any higher (probably a little bit of both), and the deal was done.
    People stating that the Yankees would have exceeded any Boston bid are assuming a lot, and are probably wrong. Boston very publicly dicked around Boras and Teixeira, and paid the price. Maybe it’s not such a great idea to include Boston ownership in these big free agent signings. Although absolutely no one should be surprised that a meeting with sleazeball extraordinaire John Henry would be a big turn-off to anyone.
    I don’t blame Theo and the Boston FO for ruining the Teixeira deal. They don’t have any say over what the Red Sox ownership does. I bet Theo was cringing the entire time Henry was meeting with Boras and Teixeira. GMing isn’t so easy when you have to deal with intrusive ownership, huh?

    AndrewYF October 15, 2009, 9:47 am
  • “Hardy is both young and cheap. They don’t have to trade him. And since his defense isn’t the issue, there will be other demand especially from other NL teams.”
    Yeah, they kind of have to trade him. Alcides Escobar is their SS in 2010. He was their SS in 2009 (after Hardy got sent down). Escobar’s defense is supposed to be superb and the Brewers did not include him in deals in the past, so they know he’s their guy. His bat may not be anything more than average, but with that sub-par pitching a solid defender might do wonders.
    I like JJ Hardy a lot. I would be sad (not that anyone cares of course) if he or Prince ended up in Boston. They are 2 of my favorite non-Yankees. Hardy can play, he just needs to be a piece in the puzzle. With the Brewers I think there was too much pressure. Granted he had Braun and Fielder, I still think in another lineup this kid rakes.

    John - YF October 15, 2009, 10:11 am
  • “Teixeira WAS just sitting there. The Yankees certainly didn’t expect him to be. They had other priorities (i.e., pitching). And I bet Henry and Theo really thought they were done. Whoops!”
    You keep telling youself that.
    “I love it when SFs think they can get any player for peanuts. Yeah, I bet the Brewers can’t wait to get Tazawa and Lowrie for Hardy.”
    There’s only one problem here: Most of us DON’T WANT JJ Hardy. And there’s been no public indication that the Red Sox FO does, either. So, when we protest assinine suggesttions, like Buchholz+ for Hardy, it’s because I WOULDN’T TRADE TAZAWA FOR HIM, EITHER, because Hardy is not an upgrade over what the Sox already have.

    Lastly, and this goes for me, too: Let’s stop rehashing the Teixeira stuff. We disagree on how it went down and we’ll continue to disagree. It’s just not productive anymore. (I said last year that the Yankees needed him more than the Red Sox and I was wrong. They had equal need.) Bottom line: the Yankees for Horse Face and he made them A LOT better.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 11:23 am
  • Let me try that again … Bottom line: the Yankees got Horse Face and he made them A LOT better.

    Also,
    Buster Olney, just now on WEEI: Jason Bay is a DH playing left field.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 11:25 am
  • Dave Cameron made a lot of good points comparing Jason Bay to Richie Sexson. Buyer beware. The Yankees aren’t going near that guy this offseason.

    AndrewYF October 15, 2009, 11:28 am
  • There are many DH’s playing LF… seems to be a good spot to stick them when there’s not any other options and you want the bat in the lineup… :)

    dw (sf) October 15, 2009, 11:31 am
  • “Beltran would be a huge plus for the Sox.”
    Agreed. But here are my initial concerns:
    * Do we know that’s he’s recovered from the knee injury that kept him sidelined for 10 weeks.
    * Where would you bat him?
    * Given that he’s 32, has a huge contract and is coming off a significant injury that curtailed his stats in 2009, I have no idea what I’d offer. We know Fred Wilson loss his ass and then some to Bernie Madoff. We know the Mets were awful last year largely due to injuries. I have no clue what Minaya wants to do in the offseason. Is he looking to pare payroll? Is he looking to tweak because he expects to be healthy in 10?
    But, yeah, Beltran definitely intrigues me.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 11:38 am
  • On Bay: I saw him as such a defensive upgrade over Manny that I never really realized that’s he’s still a minus OF.
    I never really considered him at DH for 10, either. I will now.

    I’d prefer Mark Loretta to JJ Hardy at SS.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 11:41 am
  • “Yeah, they kind of have to trade him. ”
    Not really. It’s not like he’ll be a free agent next off-season (after 2011). And it’s not like he’s going to get a significant raise in arbitration. They could sit on him. Escobar wasn’t exactly lights out when he arrived. Holding onto Hardy would be a simple hedge.
    “Hardy is not an upgrade over what the Sox already have. ”
    Seems then your argument is with the post, not with me.
    If you stop using derogatory nicknames, I’ll let Teixeira go. Even then though you can’t possible think how the Sox handled the “negotiations” helped their case, do you? They made it much, much easier for the Yankees and they could have certainly met, or surpassed, the final price. Their payroll is much lower than it has been for years. 13 million lower than 2008 and 22 million lower than 2007:
    http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2004/12/boston-red-sox.html
    “There are many DH’s playing LF”
    Exactly. Great point, Olney! What next, Fielder is a DH playing 1B?
    Bill – Would you trade Matsuzaka (who has his own injury concerns) plus Anderson and Reddick for Beltran? That seems like a very fair deal for both sides.

    Jazz YF October 15, 2009, 11:49 am
  • Yeah you are right it makes more sense to sit Hardy then to trade him for value. By all accounts (Baseball America, Project Prospect, Baseball HQ) Escobar at the very least is a plus glove. That’s something in itself. With Braun, Hart, Fielder, Gamel, Escobar, Gallardo, etc…this team has the foundation of winning in the near future. Why not add pieces in a trade for Hardy, rather than hold onto a piece for the sake of holding on to it. They have McGahee, they Taylor Green (who profiles as a YOUNG utility player) not to mention Rickie Weeks. I don’t see why they would hold onto Hardy and not get some value for him. It was also pointed out that the Brewers sent him down to make him more attractive to other teams, something about service time. So yes, the Brewers should trade Hardy, especially in the off-season when “promise” will inflate a deal.

    John - YF October 15, 2009, 12:00 pm
  • But isn’t Hardy’s value at his lowest right now? If they let Escobar mature a bit more and Hardy bounces back with a decent start to 2010, his value is significantly higher. If he doesn’t, is his value going to drop any more than it already has?

    Jazz YF October 15, 2009, 12:06 pm
  • I don’t think so. I think a players value can artificially inflate in the off-season based on promise. Clubs see what could be and think with a change in scenery, club, etc…that the player can live up to the original hype. Where he loses value (IMO) is if the Brewers trot him out there again in 2010 as a full time player and he flounders. I don’t think that happens though. They have been super patient with Escobar, remember he was up in 2008 as well at the end of the year and it seems like 2010 it’s his job to lose. The Brewers have a very good young foundation, imagine if they would have held onto LaPorta…yikes! They have some catchers coming down the pipe, they also have some OF prospects in addition to a very, very young team already. If they could land an arm for Hardy I think they jump at it! Gallardo is an ace in the wings and Parra can right the ship. He has good stuff, just needs to work on his approach.

    John - YF October 15, 2009, 12:17 pm
  • Agree to disagree? I think if he repeats his 2009, his value is no different. But if he has a hot spring, he’s that much more valuable.
    That possibility does speak to our prior disagreement. The Brewers have options.
    John – What kind of package do you think Hardy will require? Buchholz? Tazawa? Bowden?

    Jazz YF October 15, 2009, 12:32 pm
  • I have read some really good things about Tazawa. I think he and another low ball player would get it done. BUT it all depends on what the Brewers think of Tazawa. I know that Project Prospect ranks him as their #14 starting pitching prospect and they think he can be successful at the ML level. I think Buchholz is too much and I don’t know enough about Bowden to comment. The Brewers (counting on the fact that Parra rights the ship) are a pitcher away from contending in the Central with that current team.

    John - YF October 15, 2009, 12:38 pm
  • I think Buchholz is too much..
    As do I. I think offering Buchholz is the same as offering Joba. Both young, both great, and both way to valuable for a SS coming off a bad year. If the deal was for Hanley or Reyes or someone along those lines, that is where the Clay/Joba talks start. Not JJ Hardy. I can see a DiceK move, but not Buchholz.

    Brad October 15, 2009, 1:16 pm
  • “If you stop using derogatory nicknames, I’ll let Teixeira go.”
    What derrogatory? He DOES have a horse face. :) Please don’t ignore the fact that I was very complimentary of his skills. Please lighten up. We got swept. I gotta have SOMETHING!

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 1:28 pm
  • And there are probably lots of folks in Kentucky who would say that being called Horse Face is a compliment. Secretariat was a beautiful animal.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 1:31 pm
  • “Bill – Would you trade Matsuzaka (who has his own injury concerns) plus Anderson and Reddick for Beltran? That seems like a very fair deal for both sides.”
    No. Too much. I still think Dice-K is a plus pitcher. And lest I be accused of falling in love with the Sox propects,
    I just don’t know enough about Reddick.
    Still, this is a tough one. The value of both would seem to be relatively low right now. Dice-K is four years younger. The obvious downsides for the Sox are that, assuming both players will rebound, Dice-K is younger and cheaper.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 1:43 pm
  • Agreed with IBM here. It’s just funny, not mean-spirited, really. Elway:Broncos is all that needs to be invoked to put that aphorism out to stud, so to speak.

    attackgerbil October 15, 2009, 1:50 pm
  • Thanks, ag.

    Just perusing Beltran’s http://www.baseball-reference.com/ page.
    At 32, he matches up against some pretty good players at a similar age, including Yaz. But that salary, $18M this year. YIKES!It’s higher than I thought.
    I DO think that when put into the context of Dice-K’s value to the Red Sox – losing him takes a big chunk out of the rotation; they’d have to replace him (Lackey? But he’ll be expensive.)
    In the end, and I’m not trying to devalue Beltran by saying this – I really, really like Beltran, I don’t see the tradeoff helping the Red Sox, even straight up. The money and age differences make me uneasy.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 2:18 pm
  • Not to mention it is said that DiceK has a no-trade clause as well.
    I liked Manny/Beltran swap last year, but it wouldn’t help the sox out this year :)

    dw (sf) October 15, 2009, 2:22 pm
  • HOLD EVERYTHING!
    Just got an email from http://www.yawkeywaystore.com/. All merchandise is 30 percent off through Oct. 18. Just enter EOSS30 on the checkout page.
    AND, YFs, there’s even something for YOU.
    They have Kevin Cash T-shirts and even little girl-sized Damon pink T-shirts for $5 – BEFORE the discount.
    Christmas is coming, fellas!

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 3:34 pm
  • Saito apparently is gone. This posted by the Globe about an hour ago:
    Takashi Saito has been outrighted by the Red Sox off of their 40-man roster. This is likely a prelude to the team not picking up the 2010 option on his contract. We’ll have more later.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 3:59 pm
  • The Sox aren’t trading Tazawa, not after he took less money to be with them, and they’re not trading Matsuzaka, not least because that leaves their starting rotation much the same as it was this past summer, and no one wants to see that happen.
    The Sox have Bowden and they have tons of high-upside prospects in A/AA. I think that’s where a Hardy trade would come from.
    Surprised they didn’t pick up Saito’s option, though $6.5 million is quite expensive for a middle reliever.

    Paul SF October 15, 2009, 5:44 pm
  • Saito was generally very reliable for them, and very popular with his ‘pen mates. I, too, am surprised.

    I might deal Bowden for Hardy. And Milwaukee might go for that. Bowden is a Chicago-area kid, grew up in the western suburbs, about a 3-hour drive from Milwaukee. I gotta figure Bowden’s stock isn’t real high right now, though.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 15, 2009, 5:58 pm
  • SF, what’s “foolish” is to ignore the complete collapse of Boston’s offense in two out of three playoff games, given that baseball is (now) all about winning playoff games.
    Sure, one can ascribe any playoff result to small sample size. But the hard fact remains that the Sox season ended abruptly, far earlier than it should have. It’s entirely forgiveable for a team this expensive to fail to get to (let alone win) the World Series; it’s another to get swept ignominiously in the first round of the playoffs.
    The hard fact is that Boston’s 3rd-best lineup simply could not do diddily in the postseason against good pitching, whereas the Yankee and Angels lineups so performed so far. I doubt that Epstein is going into the postseason simply shrugging that off as a small-sample anomaly.
    So I maintain that the reason is that the Sox lineup is more balanced than powerful. In its championship years, the lineup was reasonably well-balanced, but also featured a reliable and massive one-two punch in its middle.
    Youks is an on-base machine, Ellsbury and Pedroia also get on base a lot, Martinez has added some pop, and Bay and Drew can contribute power. But the sum of these parts is less than Manny + Papi in their prime, and it showed a lot this year — not just against the Angels, but every time the Sox hit the road.

    Hudson October 15, 2009, 6:19 pm
  • P.S. I continue to be amazed whenever anyone says Wakefield should not be brought back. Yeah, he missed half the season. And he went 11-5 in the other half of the season. Even if he’s injured half of next year, Wakefield can and will add something to this team. He’s shown a willingness over his career to fill just about any role (starter, reliever, mop-up guy), and he remains a very affordable fill-in at worst, maybe still a key part of the rotation or pen.

    Hudson October 15, 2009, 6:29 pm
  • sf: “…Eh, shit happens. We should hope that our GM doesn’t manage based on wearing blinders and getting caught up with two games in Anaheim, one against one of the better pitchers in the AL. Small sample size, and add in the fact that the Sox had the home field disadvantage and were facing a GOOD TEAM, so it goes.
    I am not a big fan of over-reading a playoff loss. I’d rather look at the big picture, as Paul has done, and then make rational decisions about where to go. Boiling down the Sox’ problems by only looking at what happened those first two games in Anaheim (remember, they had the third game won, and didn’t lose because of the bats) is really foolish….”
    hudson’s right sf…you contradicted yourself…shit happens in the short series crap shoot…really…recently you said you were tired of hearing this…now you comments sound, well, defeatist…as usual, i’m the voice of reason…i have the answer for you at 10:30am 10/14…you sf’s might benefit by reading it… ;)
    of course, i’m saying this with the benefit of the inflated balls of having my team still in the tournament…knowing full well that they could be embarrassingly outed in the next round…whatever…i’m gonna gloat… while i can

    dc October 15, 2009, 11:01 pm
  • “…Youks is an on-base machine, Ellsbury and Pedroia also get on base a lot, Martinez has added some pop, and Bay and Drew can contribute power. But the sum of these parts is less than Manny + Papi in their prime, and it showed a lot this year — not just against the Angels, but every time the Sox hit the road….”
    so, are you saying hudson that while getting on base a lot is a good thing, someone to drive them in, as in “run production”, rbi’s maybe, might actually be relevant after all?…what?…heresy ;)

    dc October 16, 2009, 8:32 am
  • dc: you are needlessly antagonistic and intellectually dishonest with these posts.
    The fact is that, no, the playoffs are not a total crapshoot, though there are of course elements of chance (as in any sport whose conclusion is not predetermined). The Sox lost to the Angels this year because a) they weren’t good enough to win their own division and gain homefield advantage, valuable to them, b) they got outpitched by good pitchers, and c) they were outperformed during the series by a team that was quite arguably better than theme even without the homefield. But if you want to assert that the teams were evenly matched, that all the teams in the playoffs are evenly matched, then fine, it’s a crapshoot. You got it. Assert away.
    Bottom line: the playoffs aren’t made up of evenly matched teams,and that is a simple fact. It is why I think that calling the playoffs the “C” word is really lazy.

    SF October 16, 2009, 9:50 am
  • “…dc: you are needlessly antagonistic and intellectually dishonest with these posts….”
    unfair sf, and needlessly ad hominem…both comments had the smiley’s, and one had the disclaimer that i’m speaking with the courage of one who has “inflated” balls for the moment…
    “…But if you want to assert that the teams were evenly matched, that all the teams in the playoffs are evenly matched, then fine, it’s a crapshoot. You got it. Assert away….”
    that was a needless strawman…i never said that the teams were evenly matched at all…but all of the teams in the playoffs are pretty darn good…my references to “the tournament” and a “crapshoot” are that on occasion a supposedly inferior team can rise up and perform at peak efficiency for several weeks and steal a series, maybe even the whole thing from the supposedly favorite, superior teams…”shit happens”, but it’s not a crapshoot… huh?
    i guess i will try to let go of the whole rbi nonsense…i proved my point over and over…hudson’s comment was just another convenient opportunity to bring it up again…fact is, his assessment is dead on whether anyone besides me wants to acknowledge it…

    dc October 16, 2009, 10:16 am
  • on occasion
    “On occasion” does not make for a crapshoot. Outliers are exactly that: outliers. They don’t define a system, they defy a system.
    The playoffs have outliers. But they are outliers, not the norm. Hence the playoffs are not random, nothing but chance, or a crapshoot, even if chance is a factor and random occurrences happen.
    The reductivism in that term, crapshoot, is hyperbolic and mostly useless.

    SF October 16, 2009, 10:39 am
  • Bradford: Wakes to have surgery on his herniated disk on 10-21. He’s expected to be ready for Spring Training. Sox expected to pick up his option for 10.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 16, 2009, 11:06 am
  • and i thought your underdog post was tongue in cheek humor…i really didn’t think you believed it…
    “…on occasion…”
    parsing the words doesn’t change the intent of my comment…the “occasions” have happened more frequently with the introduction of divisional playoffs, and more recently, the wild card and the 5 game series…upsets happen…we know that the team with the best record doesn’t always win, and it would be too simplistic to say that the team with the best record is the favorite, but i wonder how many times a team who was presumably a favorite [as determined by whatever method] lost a playoff series to a presumed underdog?…i’ll bet more often than you think…by the time they get this far, most teams are pretty evenly matched, but one is usually installed as a favorite… once the games start, that’s when your random and chance events can significantly influence a short series, bad umpiring, untimely errors, bad baserunning, guys who aren’t homerun hitters hitting one into the jetstream, losing a ball in a sea of towel wavers…if “crapshoot” is what’s causing this angst, i’ll refrain from using it…but, my point is the same: there’s more to winning a playoff series than just being the “best”, most favorite team before the first pitch is even thrown…

    dc October 16, 2009, 11:17 am
  • Hate to do this to you, SF …
    Count me among those who believe that the RS offense wasn’t that great this year. The stats were inflated when facing poor pitching, and pretty bad against good pitching.
    And I’m not talking about good pitchers. I’m talking about a good pitching performance. Sometimes it was a guy they didn’t have a book on.
    The Angels’ series was a good example. The analysis I heard (can’t remember from whom) was that because they like to work counts, they look to take pitches, especially early in the count. The Angels threw a lot of early strikes knowing the Red Sox were taking. Then the Sox batters were behind 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 a lot. Whether they didn’t adjust or couldn’t adjust, I don’t know.
    In searching for a better way to illustrate how much the offense was inflated against bad pitching, I settled on this arbitrary, random example because I’m at work, should be working and don’t have time to come up with something else: 38 times in 2009 the Red Sox left 10 or more runners on base in a game. Of those 38 games, they lost only 12. This tells me that either, A.) They generally fattened up against bad pitching; or, B.) I stumbled onto something that is completely irrelevant.

    I'm Bill McNeal October 16, 2009, 11:32 am
  • IBM – I’d say that stat is a by-product of the RS offensive philosopy – getting people on base increases the odds in your favor of scoring runs.
    Ready for the cliches? the “table setters” or “speed guys” get on base, driven in by the “run producers” or “RBI guys” (aka as “elite hitters”). < \cliches> I’m not sure what the function of the bottom of the order is. :)
    Of course “great pitching” doesn’t allow many base runners. Bad pitching will. So an offense built around getting on base would in theory not be as effective (especially against strike throwers with good zone command). Maybe they need to put the ball in play more, I dunno (although Ells and Pedroia put the ball in play vs. say JD)

    dw (sf) October 16, 2009, 11:48 am
  • Except the Sox matched the runs that they should have scored based on their slash stats. In other words, they were no more efficient or inefficient than any other team.
    Put a guy on base, you’re more likely to score. The Sox put a lot of guys on base, and a lot of them scored. The idea that the Sox stranded a lot more runners than other teams is entirely based on anecdotal evidence and not reality.
    If there’s anything that led to the Sox being unable to hit good pitchers as well as they did in the past (and I have no idea whether that’s true), and flopping so poorly on the road — that is, if it wasn’t just an unlucky confluence of statistical flukiness, which it very well could have been — I’d argue it’s the age of the Big Three Old Guys (Tek, Ortiz, Lowell). It has nothing to do with lineup construction or the Sox’ offensive philosophy. True, the Sox will not be as good without the epic production of Manny Ortiz, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still very good with the lineup they fielded in 2009. The big question is whether those splits are real, and if they’re real, whether the old guys can adjust back to some semblance of balance in 2010.

    Paul SF October 16, 2009, 1:05 pm
  • Paul, isn’t the reality the sox have been inept on the road really for the last three seasons… which would include, as John Kerry once said, Manny Ortiz.
    They are really built for Fenway, and have pursued hitted that are pull (rh), or utilize the opposite field (LH).

    dw (sf) October 16, 2009, 1:25 pm
  • dw, Kerry actually said, “Manny Ortez.”
    And then He lost to W. Ack.

    I'mBillMcNeal October 16, 2009, 8:35 pm

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