Categories General Red Sox Yo Adrian, It’s Me, Theo Post author By attackgerbil Post date January 4, 2010 71 Comments on Yo Adrian, It’s Me, Theo According to Jon Heyman at si.com, the Sox have signed Adrian Beltre. ← YFSF Auld Lang Syne → Fangraphs: Adrian Beltre Is Amazing!!! 71 replies on “Yo Adrian, It’s Me, Theo” One-year deal, $10 million, with a $5 million player option and a $1 million buyout. Nice deal to upgrade at third both offensively and defensively. The Sox go from Julio Lugo to Marco Scutaro, Mike Lowell to Adrian Beltre, Jason Bay to Mike Cameron and Jason Varitek to Victor Martinez from Opening Day 2009 to Opening Day 2010. That’s some significant improvement without a single contract over $10 million AAV. And of course they go from Tim Wakefield to John Lackey in the rotation with the big-money contract. Color me excited for the season to start. Me too, Paul, both our teams upgraded significantly on the run-prevention side of the ball, without tying themselves down with big, long-term deals (ignoring John Lackey of course). But it’s nice to see the Sox actually spending their money for once (I think we all knew their budget was way higher than what they actually spent on payroll), instead of pocketing it in favor of risky reclamation projects. I heard reports that the payroll was around $170 before the Beltre signing, of course a lot of contracts are up for the Sox after this year, but they’re not far off from Yankee territory for 2010. I’d be interested to hear the arguments that the Sox are ruining baseball…;) there is now a rumor that the sox and mets are discussing a lowell-castillo swap. As an opponent of salary caps and a proponent of my team doing what it takes to win, you won’t hear me complaining about the Yankees or anyone else ruining baseball. But I will point out that $170M is still well shy of Yankee territory, which is what? $210M or thereabouts? That’s two Mark Teixeiras — or four Adrian Beltres — give or take a few million. Nevertheless, I am glad the Sox opened up the pocketbook this offseason. In retrospect, Theo’s “bridge” talk was pretty easy to read: to remain competitive while the major league club waits for the development machine to catch up after transitioning from an emphasis on college to high school players, they would have to “bridge” the gap between the Pedroias/Ellsburys/Lesters and the Kalishes/Reddicks/Kellys through mostly efficient, short-term contracts on the free agent market. I misspoke on the terms. Just $9 million for the first year. $10 million guaranteed though, given the $1 million buyout. I’m curious how this works for the luxury tax, which is based on AAV. Is it considered a two-year deal worth a guaranteed average of $5M per year because of the buyout? If so that’s some clever accounting to turn a $10 million contract into just a $5 million luxury tax hit. Not sure if that’s actually the case though. Well, I was way off on what I thought Beltre would get on the open market. I’m shocked at how small a contract he got. Maybe, in the end he hopes to list his stats in Fenway and on a bigger stage and hope to get that bigger contractnext year. A 5 million dollar player option only seems worthwhile for Beltre if he walks on a landmine during the season and can’t play in 2011. I’m pretty sure options and buyouts are not considered in calculating the AAV, but buyouts do count themselves in the current year’s payroll. Example, Giambi’s $5 million buyout counted against the Yankee’s payroll in 2009, although I’m not sure it counted against their luxury tax payments. If they were considered, why wouldn’t the Yankees attach multiple $1 million player options with 250K buyouts at the end of all their deals? Happy to have him. Apparently Beltre turned down 3 and 4 year deals with other teams in order to come to the Sox. He’s probably looking for a big year hitting off the monster, and then making a bigger signing in the offseason. Excellent move by the Sox. Not much to read into past that. They are markedly better than they were a year ago, which is all we have asked for. NOT TRYING TO START ANYTHING…just asking: Is Beltre much better than Lowell? I mean, Lowell has the hip but he could always play D still, right? Offensively I have to think Lowell is better, right? Again, you SF’s tell me, I’m just asking. Can someone here explain to me why the Sox are going the defense and pitching route? They scored 7 runs (and six in the last game) on 15 hits in the 3 games of the ALDS. They’ve surely improved the defense and pitching. But at what cost to the offense? Career Lugo (88 OPS+): Scutaro (92 OPS+) Lowell (109 OPS+): Beltre (105 OPS+) Bay (131 OPS+): Cameron (107 OPS+) The defense is obviously improved. But I don’t see how the offense hasn’t taken a big hit. At best Beltre and Cameron are around their career norms. I guess time will tell if trading offense for defense worked. Seems more like the front office taking advantage of short-term deals through an undervalued skill. “That’s some significant improvement without a single contract over $10 million AAV.” That’s a bit misleading: Lugo = 9M Lowell = 12M Beltre = 9M Cameron = 7.25M Scutaro = 5M That’s $42M on three positions. Obviously they’re helped if they trade Lowell without eating a huge chunk of the salary. But that total isn’t exactly cost conscious. “Apparently Beltre turned down 3 and 4 year deals with other teams in order to come to the Sox.” I don’t believe that for one second. I could see Beltre turning down 2/16 for this deal but no more than that. You’re nuts if you think Boras turned down significantly more guaranteed money for a one year “challenge” contract. By the way, with this deal, are the Sox now at $175-180M? The last number I heard was about $170M. They’re going pitching and defense, Jeff, because it isn’t smart to base your entire offseason plan on 3 isolated games. Their offense, while not elite, is still formidable and one of the best in the AL. Frankly, the only elite offense in the AL belongs to the Yankees, and nothing the Red Sox could do this offseason would match the Yankees’ offense. So they are going a different route, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out. Pitching and defense are wildly unpredictable, much like bullpens. We’ll see if the gamble works out, but even if it doesn’t, the Sox are hardly tied to this strategy, as they don’t have expensive long-term deals on the team aside from Lackey. Beltre probably turned down something like a 3/21 deal, which I think is smart to do. He had a horrible year last year, and at the least he’s guaranteed $16 million. Gambling $5 million so you can have the chance to make $50 million is a good gamble. Krueg, I think Beltre is currently (2010) better defensively at 3B. Offensively who knows? In 11 full seasons and one shortened season Beltre has only had an OBP over 350, 3 times. He’s only been over 320, 5 times. That’s not good no matter how you slice it. He’s hit over 25 HR’s just 4 times. I do think that he should improve at Fenway, but who really knows? Safeco didn’t help him. It’s a tough place to hit, but there have been successful power hitters there (Branyan) so how much of it was the park. I am by no means trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but this guy is a true unknown. Who knows what you’ll get with him. Could be 48 HR’s like in 2004 or 8 like he hit in 2009. (Yes I know he was slightly injured last season) Just seems like too many players (Scutaro, Beltre, Ortiz, Cameron) have question marks next to their names. Can Ortiz hit for a full season? What Beltre do you get? Scutaro only has 2 seasons with more than 500 AB’s, can he repeat 2009? Cameron is slightly more consistent, .340 OBP/.240 Avg/20 HR’s, but he’s 37. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of guys in the 2010 Sox lineup that get on base at a typical Sox pace. Bottom line, they are better defensively, I just don’t see it working on offense though. Too many variables. I will say this though, the length of all of the deals (taking money out of consideration when you discuss Yankees and Sox) make sense. With the prospects the Sox have coming up, no contract is blocking their progress which stays true to their overall mission: Compete now AND build your farm system. Theo always seems solid when it comes to staying true to the goal. “the Sox are hardly tied to this strategy, as they don’t have expensive long-term deals” I think this fact explains the strategy more than anything, esp with Mauer, Pujols, Fielder, Beckett, Lee, and Webb coming up in the next two years. But, going after the undervalued skills is not a default upgrade. And no one here can deny that the offense is taking a big hit. The question is whether Beltre rebounds, Scutaro doesn’t regress, and Cameron defies his age even while their defense stays constant. “Beltre probably turned down something like a 3/21 deal” I’d love to see one report of this. Even the Sox blog that Neyer links to says Boras couldn’t get a 3 or 4 year deal. Essentially, Boras got 2/14 from the Sox with an opt out after the first year. They may have sacrificed a few million for that option, but I can’t possibly see how it was any more than that. I think this signing has much less to do with Beltre, and so much more to do with retaining awesome flexability. The Red Sox will remain a competitive team this year, and if things break right, will be really good. They have a lot of guys playing for their supper, and they’re not on the hook for any of them if they don’t. In the end, the Red Sox avoided overpaying for Bay or Holliday, gave Lackey what he would’ve gotten anywhere he signed, and fielded a very good defensive and average offensive team with good pitching. But, assume worst comes to worst – look at the money that will be coming off the books at exactly the time there are so many type A FA available next year. Does anyone really think that St. Louis is going to offer an ARod deal to Pujous? Or Mauer is going to take 100M less to play for Min? It’s a good thought, but how many times has it EVER happened. The Sox have set themselves up very nicely now, and a year from now. I think that is what this is all about. And yes, Beltre is much better defensively than Lowell – not to mention he can get out of his own way on the bases, and still maintains the potential to swing an effective bat. I think it’s a good move. They’re going pitching and defense, Jeff, because it isn’t smart to base your entire offseason plan on 3 isolated games. Their offense, while not elite, is still formidable and one of the best in the AL. Posted by: AndrewYF | Tuesday, January 05, 2010 at 11:04 AM AndrewYF, preaching the truth. I agree with most of what you are saying Brad, as was noted in my comment above. Whether it’s flexibility with prospects or flexibility with signing FA’s, it still stays true to their overall goal and that’s to compete yearly and stay strong from top to bottom. I just think there are too many what if’s offensively and they are suddenly an old team, even if it’s only a short term old. Don’t get me wrong, they are good, very good, but the offense has something prove. The Red Sox had the 2nd-highest OPS in baseball last year. They’re losing some of that with Bay, but even then they’re still probably the 3rd or 4th best offense in the league in 2010. Considering our upgrades at defense (which will improve our pitching), I’m psyched about 2010. By the way, regarding Pujols; he’s said about 1,000 times that he’ll stay in St. Louis at a reasonable price as long as the Cardinals keep trying to win. They’re about to sign Matt Holliday long-term, so I seriously doubt that Albert will be going anywhere. Mauer and AGonz are different stories, though. “Bottom line, they are better defensively, I just don’t see it working on offense though. Too many variables.” I agree with this statement 100%. The other problem is they play in a park designed for offense. 2004 was about pitching and defense but they still had big bats. “The Red Sox had the 2nd-highest OPS in baseball last year.” Isn’t that misleading? Where were they on the road? Cause if they manage the wild card, again, that’s where they’ll play the majority of their games. Trading offense for defense is one way to build a team. But neither Texas nor Seattle made the post-season. In some ways th Sox are clearly better. I’m just not sure they’re clearly a better baseball team, especially since they play in a tough division. Answered my own question. Sox in 2009 were 9th in MLB in road offense. Let’s remember that the Sox were also below .500 (39-42) on the road. That figure has to improve because it’s hard to see how they could win more games at home. So better pitching/defense vs. loss of offense on the road? I don’t see much of a difference. Then again, Theo consistently says the goal is 95 wins. If all goes according to plan, this is a 95 win club. yes, but better pitching goes a long way to help keep a lesser offense in a game. Say, it’s late October, CC is going to probably shut down a good offense – but a good pitcher on the other side at least keeps that team in a game, and not making errors for that pitcher cannot be understated. Pitching a defense win every single time. Obviously a good signing by the Sox–maybe even a necessary one considering they were talking about playing Casey Kotchman at first all year. I am pretty surprised by the cost considering how much Chone Figgins got. It seems more and more that it’s a good idea for players to go for deals early in the offseason rather than wait it out. But the Sox are very likely to get improvement, both hitting and fielding-wise, from the left side of the infield. The bar was set low last season by Lowell and Lugo and their replacements and yet they still managed to win 95 games. The pitching staff has also improved quite a bit. I expect the Sox to be better next season even with the small decline in their hitting. The Yanks, however, still look like the team to beat. One more question for SFs: Did you think your 2009 was a championship club? The 2010 version seems, to me, like a bunch of pieces were moved around without a net difference. But if most things go right, I still don’t see how this is a championship club. Can you convince me? “Pitching a defense win every single time.” The 2009 Yankees had the best offense in baseball (road too, by 40 OPS points). They had one of the worst defenses. Their pitching was good, but it wasn’t outstanding. “I think this signing has much less to do with Beltre, and so much more to do with retaining awesome flexability… But, assume worst comes to worst – look at the money that will be coming off the books at exactly the time there are so many type A FA available next year.” This makes a lot of sense. I mean, the Sox are a top 4 team in the AL as currently constructed, no doubt about that, but now they have the flexibility to make some serious moves next year when the FA class is much better. You’ve sold me! Their pitching was good, but it wasn’t outstanding. yes, when it mattered, it absolutely was. During the season, the Yankees were able to match punches, but when they reached the playoffs, and other pitchers performed well, it was CC and a great Pettitte performance that kept them in the game. Right? K, are you being sarcastic, because I was being very genuine in my thought that with that much money coming off the books if they’re not resigned because of great performances this year – it’s a substantial opportunity for the Sox. Aren’t we forgetting that while Bay to Cameron is a clear offensive downgrade, Crap to Scutaro is just as clear an offensive upgrade, as is four months of Varitek to six months of Martinez? And this assumes Beltre is no better than Lowell with the bat, which underrates Beltre’s potential. THEN you add in the massive defensive improvement across the left side of the field and the improvement of adding Lackey to the rotation. I really don’t see a reason, assuming health, why we should assume the Sox’ offense will regress next year. I think because Martinez finished the year with the club, we all forget that the Sox played the vast majority of the season with a black hole where the catcher’s position in the lineup was, and I also think because everyone agrees Scutaro is unlikely to approach his career year last season that even if he merely hits his career average, it’s a vast improvement offensively over Lugo/Green/Gonzalez. And I will keep preaching until someone finally gets it: The 2009 Red Sox’ road offense was no worse compared to the league-average road offense and no worse compared to the team’s home offense than the World Series-winning clubs of 2004 and 2007. The problem last year was defense, defense, defense. And the Sox have obviously addressed that in a major way. I mangled this sentence: I also think because everyone agrees Scutaro is unlikely to approach his career year last season, we forget that even if he merely hits his career average, it’s a vast improvement offensively over Lugo/Green/Gonzalez. Money being shed by Boston next year – assuming no extensions are offered to current players: Josh Beckett – 12M Victor Martinez – 7.5M David Ortiz – 12.5M Mike Lowell – 12M Julio Lugo – 9M Billy Wagner (a million) Alex Gonzales (half million) Varitek – 5M Kotchman – 2.8M That’s a boat load of money and positions to free up for them off the current payroll. 63 million off the books. Now, a lot could play out next season, but the Red Sox have put themselves in a postion to not be tied up long term to anyone not part of a young core of players and pitchers, and freed up money to spend in the next year or two, when even more money in JD Drew comes off the books. I think the Red Sox have played this just right. Compete this year, and if things break right with the pitching, be great. A lot of guys playing for contracts, and big ones at that works out very well for them. Or very bad. We have to wait and see, but I’m willing to say I’m happy where they stand right now. Road offense be damned. And because I want to emphasize this road offense fallacy, let me reiterate: tOPS+ = performance relative to own average sOPS+ = performance relative to league average 2009 Home/road tOPS+: 113/88 2007 Home/road tOPS+: 109/90 2004 Home/road tOPS+: 112/88 2009 Home/road sOPS+: 123/106 2007 Home/road sOPS+: 119/106 2004 Home/road sOPS+: 127/108 The 2009 Red Sox were virtually identical to the 2004 Red Sox on the road when compared to their own average, and virtually identical to the 2007 Red Sox when compared to the league (and not that much worse than 2004, for that matter). Road offense was not the problem last season. The 2009 Sox were 56-25 at home, 39-42 on the road. The 2007 Sox were 51-30 at home, 45-36 on the road. The 2004 Sox were 55-26 at home, 43-38 on the road. What’s the difference? Obviously, it was the Sox’ road pitching: 2009 home/road tOPS+ allowed: 94/106 2007 home/road tOPS+ allowed: 106/94 2004 home/road tOPS+ allowed: 99/101 2009 home/road sOPS+ allowed: 101/102 2007 home/road sOPS+ allowed: 95/77 2004 home/road sOPS+ allowed: 92/89 The ’09 Sox were much worse pitching on the road compared to home than in 2007, and much worse on the road relative to the league than either the ’04 or ’07 teams. Obviously OPS+ doesn’t just measure the quality of pitching, but defense, as well, given that unmade plays count as hits and even errors that don’t count against pitchers provide offenses additional opportunities for the walks and hits that drive up OPS. So what did the Sox do this offseason? They massively upgraded their pitching and defense. This shouldn’t be surprising. There’s no way I’ve just figured something out Theo Epstein didn’t already know months ago. Everything you guys are saying is mostly true, I think the problem most of us are having is what happens on offense. If all the cards fall right the Sox should be very good offensively, but there are a lot of cards that need to fall in the right spot. This approach can very well be the right approach, you just need to see how it plays out first I suppose. Remember before the season last year we were all applauding Theo for the Smoltz, Penny signings. Remember before the season last year we were all applauding Theo for the Smoltz, Penny signings. You’re right, John. But in hindsight, the Red Sox won nearly a hundred games, and made the playoffs, which is nothing to sneeze at, and now, those contracts are gone, which is exactly the way it will ne next year at this time regardless of what happens. Only this time next year, the names are much more attractive than Holliday and Beltre. Really all that is needed to show improvement is that the difference between expected runs and expected runs prevented has increased from the year before. I think there’s an argument to be made for the idea that the Sox have improved hitting-wise (slghtly), stayed the same hitting-wise, or declined (slightly), but clearly their fielding has improved greatly and clearly with the addition of Lackey the pitching is better. The Sox are better than they were last season. Yes, that’s a lot of money coming off the books Brad, but look at what they will likely need in 2011 to replace the production adequately (who used to fill that spot in parens): A top of the rotation starter (Beckett) A top offensive catcher (Martinez) A DH (Ortiz) A third baseman (Beltre will likely opt out) And this doesn’t count a LFer if Cameron doesn’t work out, or a SS if Scutaro doesn’t work out. And who do the Sox have coming up in the farm to replace those guys next year? They don’t have a stud pitcher on the cusp of the majors. They don’t have a major-league quality starting catcher anywhere in their system (apologies to Mark Wagner and Luis Exposito and Federowitcz and whomever else will likely be a backup catcher at best). They don’t have a major-league quality third baseman anywhere near the majors. They do have Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish, but they’re not exactly blue-chip, star-quality players in the making. And they almost definitely won’t be all that good in their first season of major league play. Things could get very dicey very quickly for the Sox if they don’t play their cards exactly right over the next year. It’s nice to have flexibility, but it’s even nicer to have assured roster spots to star players. Wait, why is the comparison to the 2004 and 2007 clubs? What’s that supposed to mean? That the 2009 club could have won a championship as constructed? From a glance, I don’t see that. The 2009 club didn’t have the same outstanding players on offense and pitching sides – the ones that can truly carry a team. I mean, can anyone here seriously argue that the 2009 Sox were capable of a championship? Now compared to the 2010 club, I see the Sox treading water. They sure seem capable of 95 wins. But is that a championship club? And if the offense was average on the road in 2009, how is it not below average in 2010? They just sacrificed offense at three lineup spots. I guess if all of Beltre, Cameron, Scutaro, and Ortiz have peak seasons, then they’re a 100 win club. But what are the chances of that? What I still don’t understand: Why not Hardy and Figgins for the same money as Beltre and Scutaro? Moreover, is Lackey truly a “massive” upgrade? If anything he seems to replace Dice-K’s expected production of 2009 and as the #3. Still, that doesn’t seem like an upgrade. You’re right Andrew, but with that much money coming off the books, they have that option available to them to go get that player. I happen to think Beckett will sign again, before I even consider what Buchholz does this year and next. I think they will trade for a hitter, and that leaves a lot of money for those other postions when a lot of good players are avaiilale through trade or FA. Lets not forget, Fielder, Gonz, and Howard will all be available through trade or FA next year should those teams decide to not offer the huge money. I’d much rather the Sox be in the position they are right now, and able to compete day in and out, and not be tied to anyone for obscene money yet. If they’re going to go overboard, I think they should do so with guys on next years list. Not this one. How is Lackey not a massive upgrade? Did you forget that Dice-K completely bombed in 2009? Hell, Clay Buchholz for a whole year would be a massive upgrade. Now he’s the number 4 starter, and whatever you get from Dice-K is gravy. Or the other way around. “K, are you being sarcastic, because I was being very genuine in my thought that with that much money coming off the books if they’re not resigned because of great performances this year – it’s a substantial opportunity for the Sox. ” No dude, I was serious. I agree with what you are saying! It makes perfect sensem, competitive this year and depending on how things pan out, you can re-sign (maybe) and go into the much better free agent class of 2010… “The Red Sox had the 2nd-highest OPS in baseball last year.” Isn’t that misleading? Where were they on the road? Cause if they manage the wild card, again, that’s where they’ll play the majority of their games. Oh god I forgot what happens when you talk to him, the entire discussion devolves into talk of home/road splits. Kill me now. “If anything he seems to replace Dice-K’s expected production of 2009 and as the #3. Still, that doesn’t seem like an upgrade.” huh? This is exactly why it’s an upgrade. Dice-K didn’t perform as expected. The Sox now have a solid #3. So everyone in the back-end of the rotation is bumped down and their innings (including Dice-K’s, Wake’s and a developing Clay) are less important than last season’s. The Sox clearly have improved their rotation, especially if you believe Lackey will perform as Dice-K was expected t perform in 2009. And why should a team like the Sox take a chance on Hardy who batted .200 and was sent down to the minors last year? “Lets not forget, Fielder, Gonz, and Howard will all be available through trade or FA next year should those teams decide to not offer the huge money. I’d much rather the Sox be in the position they are right now, and able to compete day in and out, and not be tied to anyone for obscene money yet. If they’re going to go overboard, I think they should do so with guys on next years list. Not this one.” ONLY obstacle to the Sox being able to get those impact players next offseason is that little team down in the Bronx… None of us really knows what’s going to happen obviously, a lot of brow AND chest beating last offseason and everything worked out for us. It may for the Sox or it may not but they certainly look like a playoff team. We can only all hope we play in the 2010 ALCS…we’ll see! Brad, you’d rather the future of the Red Sox be in serious doubt, than have their money ‘tied up’ in star players? There’s something to be said for flexibility, but flexibility for it’s own sake is worthless. There’s absolutely no guarantee the Sox get ANY of those players. Beckett could (and should) get a $100 million deal elsewhere. Martinez could get an insane deal elsewhere. Mauer could sign in Minnesota (or the Yankees could gobble him up), Lee could re-up in Marinerland, etc. And to trade for the star hitter you describe, the Sox will likely need to trade away Buchholz and one of Kelly/Westmoreland, thereby depleting their plan of refreshing through the farm system, and also depleting a part of their major league roster. It’s an extremely risky plan, and one that doesn’t have that much higher a payout than just signing these star players for long-term deals in the first place. We’ve already seen that the Sox can very, very easily absorb a bad deal. It’s why I was so frightened they might sign Teixiera last winter, or Holliday this winter. These players are as sure a bet as you can get, and the Sox, given their extreme flexibility (and massive budget), wouldn’t even feel their contracts. money ‘tied up’ in star players? I never said that. I said, I’d rather the Sox be in a position to actually sign said star players, and not settle for what was available this year. Don’t twist the words, man. I’d love to have a couple eight year deals for guys like Tex and ARod, but those opportunities were not here this year, and I’m happy with the way the Red Sox went. And you’re right – there are no guarantees that the Sox get those players, but the money will exist to do so, which is more than a lot of teams can say, right? The Red Sox are going to be able to put their offers on the tables, and know they can go just as high as anyone for those guys, and that’s a good position to be in. I mean, can anyone here seriously argue that the 2009 Sox were capable of a championship? Now compared to the 2010 club, I see the Sox treading water. They sure seem capable of 95 wins. But is that a championship club? WS winners and their regular season games won: 2009: Yankees, 103 2008: Phillies, 92 2007: Red Sox, 96 2006: Cardinals, 83 2005: White Sox, 99 2004: Red Sox, 98 2003: Marlins, 91 2002: Angels, 99 2001: Diamondbacks, 91 Average wins: 95. Mauer could sign in Minnesota (or the Yankees could gobble him up… Listen, that’s what I’m saying. Anything the Yankees can offer another player next year, the Red Sox will be able to match it, at least hypothetically. Listen, I know Yankee fans would love to add yet another player like Mauer, but I think in this case, the Red Sox are setting themselves up to be in that talk. Also, what makes you think the Red Sox aren’t going to offer Beckett that deal? I would bet he gets the same deal as Lackey, maybe a little more based on the year he has this year, but by any means are the Red Sox out of that. so, 18 per to him still leaves 45 on the table to sign other guys. I like that flexability, and don’t think it’s a negative thing at all. Theoretically, Lackey is replacing the projected No. 5 production of Tim Wakefield. Adding a pitcher knocks the worst pitcher from the rotation, so you replace those starts, not the starts of a pitcher who will be there anyway. In reality, Lackey and a healthy Matsuzaka are replacing the combined production of Wakefield, an injured Matsuzaka, Smoltz and Penny (65 starts), while a full season of Buchholz is replacing his own partial season, plus Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden, Junichi Tazawa and Paul Byrd (33 starts). Of course, Wakefield, Bowden and Tazawa will probably still be making starts, pitching health being what it is. That the 2009 club could have won a championship as constructed? Obviously, the 2009 Sox were not a championship team… because they did not win a championship. But they did win 95 games and make the playoffs — one game worse than the 2007 club and three games worse than 2004. If they had won the World Series, it would not have been looked at as a major upset. Because the Red Sox in 2009 were actually a very good team. These weren’t the 2006 Cardinals here. And as I showed, their flaws were NOT related to the offense, at least as compared with the two modern-day championship clubs (and I’ll decline to use a three-game sample as being anything remotely conclusive). So if you think the Sox are simply treading water by fielding another team that will win 95 games and make the playoffs, I’ll take that every single season. I guess if all of Beltre, Cameron, Scutaro, and Ortiz have peak seasons, then they’re a 100 win club Ooooh, what a fun strawman! Beltre peak: 163 OPS+ Scutaro peak: 111 Cameron peak: 123 Ortiz peak: 177 If this happens, they will have a 110-win club. It will not happen, and no one’s saying it will. If Cameron is at 110 (lower than his past two seasons), Scutaro at 90 (lower than his career average), Beltre at 110 (the middle of his last three healthy seasons) and Ortiz at 120 (lower than 2008), the Red Sox will have an impressive lineup. Are these unreasonable? Outside Cameron, they are certainly better than what the Sox had in 2009. And don’t forget to pencil in Victor at 125, which is where he’s fallen pretty consistently throughout his career: Beltre, 110 > Lowell, 106 Ortiz, 120 > Ortiz, 101 Scutaro, 90 > 2009 SS, 82 (compared to SS league average) Martinez, 125 > 2009 Cs, 109 (compared to C league average) (The difference between Scutaro/Martinez and their replacements is even larger than those numbers imply because their projections would place 100 at overall league average, while the 2009 totals are based on 100 as a league average for the position, which is still below league average overall.) Offsetting Bay, 135 > Cameron, 110 And this, again, ignores that every one of the new players is much better at defense. Here’s the list of 2011 FA 3Bman: Garrett Atkins COL Wilson Betemit CWS Jorge Cantu FLA Eric Chavez OAK * Pedro Feliz PHI Bill Hall SEA * Brandon Inge DET Maicer Izturis LAA Mike Lowell BOS Melvin Mora BAL Nick Punto MIN * Scott Rolen CIN Ty Wigginton BAL Something tells me that Beltre will be back for a 2nd year, regardless. The outfield list is slightly better, but not any deeper. Werth and Crawford being the Gems of this list: Alfredo Amezaga FLA Pat Burrell TB Eric Byrnes ARI Frank Catalanotto MIL Carl Crawford TB Coco Crisp KC Michael Cuddyer MIN * David DeJesus KC * Adam Dunn WAS Jermaine Dye CWS Jody Gerut MIL Jose Guillen KC Willie Harris WAS Brad Hawpe COL * Geoff Jenkins PHI Austin Kearns WAS Jason Kubel MIN * Magglio Ordonez DET * Marcus Thames DET Jayson Werth PHI At DH/1B you have a real chance to make an impact with guys like Berkman, Lee and Pena. Not even counting Pujols. Lance Berkman HOU * Wes Helms FLA Jason Giambi COL Ross Gload FLA Paul Konerko CWS Derrek Lee CHC David Ortiz BOS * Lyle Overbay TOR Carlos Pena TB Albert Pujols STL * Starting pitching is far deeper next season and there are better high end, top of the rotation guys available. This could be an area were flexibility comes into play big time. Bronson Arroyo CIN * Josh Beckett BOS Joe Blanton PHI Jeremy Bonderman DET David Bush MIL Daniel Cabrera ARZ Matt Cain SF * Jorge De La Rosa COL Jeff Francis COL * Jon Garland LAD Roy Halladay TOR Aaron Harang CIN * Tim Hudson ATL Cliff Lee PHI Ted Lilly CHC Braden Looper MIL Noah Lowry SF Kevin Millwood TEX Jamie Moyer PHI Vicente Padilla LAD Tim Redding NYM Nate Robertson DET Ian Snell SEA * Jeff Suppan MIL * Willy Tavarez CIN Javier Vazquez ATL Brandon Webb ARI Jake Westbrook CLE Dontrelle Willis DET Chris Young SD * Forget about Matt Cain. He has a very cheap club option for 2011. Halladay is signed to an extension, so take him out too. I don’t see why Beltre will be back for year 2, unless he has a truly horrendous 2010 to match his horrible 2009. He’ll easily be the best of the 3B-man class, and his plan will work out. He’s a Boras client, remember. No way does he sign a below-market extension, no matter how many Boston sportswriters think players love to play for the Red Sox. Anyway, so now you have two options for front-of-the-rotation pitchers: Josh Beckett and Cliff Lee. And no guarantees Lee will even be available: I could see the Mariners signing him to a nice extension, since Felix Hernandez is going to be the world’s first $200 million pitcher. The Sox could opt for Webb, or Vazquez, but other than that there’s no one else who would qualify as an AL-quality starting pitcher in that bunch. Also, remember the Yankees loom over all. Cashman has publicly stated he has his eye on the 2010 free agent class. You really want to bet against the Yankees when it comes to signing a quality free agent? I’m not saying the Sox should have done anything differently this offseason, just that simply having flexibility might not actually be a good thing. Keep in mind John that the Sox can easily move Youk over to third and acquire one of those 1B. I think that’s what the plan will be, in any case. Also, remember the Yankees loom over all. Cashman has publicly stated he has his eye on the 2010 free agent class. You really want to bet against the Yankees when it comes to signing a quality free agent? I would bet cash money that the Yankees end up signing Carl Crawford. The * players all have some sort of option, club or player. So yes Andrew you are right, I don’t see Matt Cain hitting FA. I don’t ever bet against the Yankees Andrew, but that’s really not the point. The point is the Sox remain flexible in that the CAN go after the players they want in 2011. I am not applauding Beltre, Cameron, Scutaro, between you, me and the computer screen I think the defense of those 3 is emphasized too highly, but don’t tell anyone. What I am applauding is Theo’s Anti-Minaya approach to FA. Instead of clogging up future signings or prospects with guys like Delgado, Perez, Castillo, etc…Epstein has signed useful short term players. Who knows if they will be able to sign ANY of those guys, but the option is still there. Like I said before, John Lackey might be a Met if Minaya doesn’t sign OP to that awful contract. Same can be said for Orlando Hudson and a long list of other better options at 2B available either through trade OR FA. Being flexible doesn’t mean that it will work, it just means that Theo has a chance to make it work, while putting a good to very good product on the field in the interim. Ath, yeah I forgot about that honestly. I take back my he’ll back back statement. It’s obviously a better option for the Sox to go big at 1B than to resign Beltre. My bad! Ath, from your mouth to God’s ears…Him and Prince Fielder make me drool. I don’t think Fielder would ever come to the Yankees, but I would be a happy Yankee fan with my two favorite Yankees on the roster down the road. “Instead of clogging up future signings or prospects with guys like Delgado, Perez, Castillo, etc…Epstein has signed useful short term players.” Epstein has his stinkers as well. Let’s not forget the Sox have a good deal of money committed to Lowell and Lugo next season. Actually, I don’t think Minaya is particularly awful when it comes to this aspect of general managing. Really, the problem has been the team’s inability to develop young players to fill in spots on the roster around his superstars. But I don’t think the Mets have more onerous contracts than most other clubs. Yeah, that’s the nice thing about the flexibility Youk gives us. I definitely see us more likely to grab a 1B and move Youk to 3rd than the alternative. Personally I think it will be Prince Fielder eventually, but that’s just me. I have to disagree Nick. Minaya is borderline awful when it comes to signing free agents and constructing a team. Click on my Notes on FB and you will see the 2009 comparison of bullpens and starting pitching between the two teams. In 2009 the Mets spent more or comparable money on their staff and bullpen than the Yankees. Sure he was wise enough to lock up Reyes and Wright and to land Beltran (even though he wanted to be a Yankee)but other than those moves FA wise what has worked out for Minaya? He consistently pays more than market value for players (see K-Rod and Perez). I will say, like I did last week, he’s a very good trader. He does well when it comes to trades: Johan, Frenchy, Pedro Feliciano, Putz, Angel Pagan, Stokes, etc… I will agree that he doesn’t have any more awful contracts than other teams, problem is his team needs the flexibility more than most. As for their farm system, you might see some drastic improvement in 2010. They have a ton of low level prospects that have very high ceilings. All depends on how 2010 goes for these kids. Hell yeah John. Speed is ridiculously under-valued. Ellsbury had an OPS or .770 last season, but had 70 steals. If you use those steals to add 70 extra bases (and subtracting 12 for CS) then his OPS goes up to .863. And that’s not factoring how distracting he can be on the base paths (or how it makes Pedroia more likely to get a fastball to turn on). I’m with you, I LOVE speed. I’m going to hate seeing Crawford in pinstripes. I have a hard time considering Lowell a stinker, in that he provided decent enough value in 2008 (whereas Lugo never provided any value), and moreso because the Sox didn’t have the best offer on the table, so it’s not like they outbid everyone to get him back. A three-year deal was actually pretty reasonable, especially given Lowell turned down four years and more money from Philly. Well, it IS a stinker the way it turned out, but I guess what I’m saying is it’s more of a bad luck thing than a mistake like Lugo was. I think signing Lowell during the 2007 World Series honeymoon was a mistake, but there’s absolutely no comparing it to the Lugo signing. Ugh. Rosenthal has details of Beltre’s contract: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Rosenthal-Red-Sox-get-Beltre-for-cheap-010410 His contract, sources say, will be for one year and $9 million, with a $5 million player option for 2011 or $1 million buyout. The option will increase to $10 million only if Beltre makes 640 plate appearances, according to one source. So if Beltre has a good year, it’s not necessarily a given that he goes back on the market, if he’d be turning down a $10 million option instead of a $5 million option. Rosenthal says the A’s and Phillies both offered three years, $24 million at different times during the offseason. The most the Sox could possibly pay under this contract is two years, $20 million. This is what Cot’s has Paul, very similar: 1 year/$10M (2010) * signed by Boston as a free agent 1/5/10 * 10:$9M, 11:$5M player option ($1M buyout) * 2011 option may increase to $10M based on 2010 performance Well it’s a good idea for Beltre: come to Boston, put up great numbers hitting off the monster, then sign a 4/50 contract in a different city. Interesting that Cot’s updates before the signing is even official. Beltre hasn’t passed the physical yet… Cot’s does that a lot. They had Bay in there pronto and it wasn’t official until today. Well, lots of interesting stuff being discussed here. My feelings can be summed up as follows: – sad to see a guy like Lowell ushered out in such fashion, he contributed to a championship and seems, on the surface, to be a really decent guy. Yeah, he’s making a lot of dough, and that’s gotta soften anything, but the sentimentalist in me would prefer nicer conclusions. – Beltre a clear upgrade in the field, by most measurements, and his bat has upside (thanks to his crap performance!), so if he can rebound at the plate even somewhat this move will be very nice. And we like the “for only one year” part. That second year, if the option is exercised, is effectively a more expensive buyout, since if he exercises the option it means he had a leg amputated during the season and/or stunk the joint out and will likely be released. Forget 2011 “flexibility” (we don’t know who will be available via trade this season, who the Sox will need next year, what the market will be like, etc. etc., too many unknowns to worry about quite yet), this deal is smart because it mitigates long-term risk if Beltre doesn’t rebound at the plate, certainly a possibility. – we think the Sox just acquired a player who may be a part of a certain list. Are the Sox the first team to swap players during an offseason at the same position, both of whom have damaged testicles? You can’t value speed like that, simply adding extra bases to slugging. That misses out on an integral point of slugging – it moves other runners up more than one base. A stolen base does absolutely nothing to move other runners up. Besides, if you add net stolen bases to him, you have to add it to everyone. Suddenly, that boost in OPS doesn’t mean all that much. Speed is most certainly not undervalued. In fact, it is overvalued, although clubs have been better at getting away from the NL-style ‘speed-first’ lineups. Power and on-base percentage always, always, always trump speed. Every time. And if Beltre has a good year, it’s absolutely a given that he’d go back on the market, unless he suffers some catastrophic injury at the end of the season. Why would a guy who just put up a great season, and who is widely considered a fantastic 3rd baseman, and who is represented by Scott Boras, settle for a $10 million contract, arguable a lesser contract than the one he signed after having a terrible, no good, very bad year? – we think the Sox just acquired a player who may be a part of a certain list Yuck. Haven’t really heard anyone talk about it in awhile, it was nice while it lasted! Leave a ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.