Posted by: nhfalcon | November 8, 2008

So, What Now For the Red Sox?

I’m nowhere near the baseball fan that I am the football fan, but the Red Sox have always been my favorite team (I go back to the days of Rice, Lynn, Evans, Yaz, Fisk, Burleson, Hobson, Lee, Tiant, and Campbell, just to date myself). I’ve been thrilled with this team since 2004, what with the reversing of the curse and all, but of course I came away from this season just a tad disappointed.

They miss the World Series by one game and I’m “a tad disappointed.” We Sox fans are spoiled little bastards, arent we? 🙂

So, what should they do to get better next year? The three big names that seem to be circulating around them so far during this Hot Stove season are Jake Peavy, Mark Teixiera, and Jason Varitek.

I’ll start with Peavy. The rumors have already all but died out, which I think is a good thing. Peavy’sbeen on record as saying he doesn’t want to play in the American League, much less Boston. He’s basically narrowed his options down to Chicago (as in the Cubs), Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is just as well for the Red Sox.

Boston’s rotation is pretty well set for ’09. The top four starters are Josh Beckett, “Dice-K” Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, and Tim Wakefield. They have numerous options for the fifth spot in the rotation. They could bring back Paul Byrd or Bartolo Colon. They could move Justin Masterson from the bullpen. They could give Clay Bucholz another shot. They’re reportedly interested in 22-year old Japanese phenom Junichi Tazawa. There have been whispers of a Julio Lugo for Dontrelle Willis trade (which I would do in a heartbeat!). Finally, there’s a pretty decent bunch of starting pitchers who will be available in free agency: guys like C. C. Sabathia, Ben Sheets, A. J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe, just to name a few.

Given the wealth of options, I don’t see the point in trading prospects for Peavy.

The Teixeira rumors seem to have a lot more weight to them. He’s young (29 next April), hits a ton (averaging 34 homers and 113 RBI a year for the last six years), and is a free agent, so the only thing he costs is money, which the Sox have plenty of. What’s not to like? Just bat him cleanup in between Big Papi and Jason Bay and let the good times roll, right?

One problem – Teixeira is a 1B / DH. We already have a pretty good DH (when he’s healthy) in David Ortiz. We already have a pretty good 1B in Kevin Youkilis. Who’s going to sit for Teixeira?

“Well, Youk played 3B in the Sox’ farm system and the beginning of his MLB career. Put him back there.”

OK, fine. What are you going to do with Mike Lowell, then?

“Trade him.”

I have two arguments against that line of reasoning. First, what do you think you’re going to get in return for Lowell? What do you think teams are going to be willing to give up for a guy who’ll turn 35 in February, is coming off hip surgery, and is only one year into a new contract? Second, the mantra about what it takes to win a World Series lately is “pitching and defense.” Being a 1B / DH, Teixeira obviously gives you nothing in the pitching department. While he’s not a bad defensive first baseman, he’s not in Youkilis’ league. By the same token, Youkilis is not as good a defensive third baseman as Lowell. So, Teixeira actually makes your defense worse. At two positions, no less!

“But look at those offensive numbers,” people would say. Yes, they are impressive. And yes, Boston did suffer offensively at the tail-end of the season. However, despite what Manny supporters would say, the dropoff was not because of Ramirez’s absence, but rather because of injury. I already mentioned Lowell’s hip. Ortiz also missed time and was obviously hampered when he returned by a wrist ailment. Get those two back and completely healthy and you’re adding a .285/20/90 3B and a .300/35/110 DH to the lineup.

What the Red Sox need is a lineup that’s dangerous from top to bottom when everybody is completely healthy, and they didn’t have that in 2008. Why not? Two words. 

Jason Varitek.

Tek had his worst season ever, hitting just .220 with 13 homers and 43 RBI. That following a .255/17/68 ’07 and a .238/12/55 ’06. I know this is a sacrilegious thing to say in Red Sox Nation, but it’s time for Tek to go.

I know, I know. He calls a great game. He’s the best at handling a pitching staff. He plays great defense. Maybe so, but there comes a point where lack of offensive production outwieghs such intangibles, and I think Jason has reached that point. Let’s face it, he’s not getting any younger (37 in April), plays the most physically abusive position in the game, is a free agent, and has Scott Boras as his agent, who’s going to have ridiculous expectations for his clients’ pay scale (the most recent offer from Boras for Tek? Four years and $52 million!).

Again, it’s time for Tek to go.

It’s gonna cost Boston to replace him. The options in free agency aren’t much better than Tek himself, so it’ll have to be a trade to address this issue. In my dream world Theo would be able to fleece the Cubs for Rookie of the Year candidate Geovany Soto (26 in January. Hit .285/23/86 in his first full MLB season). More realistic targets might be Taylor Teagarden (25 in December, .319/6/17 in 47 AB) or Jarrod Saltamacchia (24 in May, .253/3/26 in 198 AB) from Texas. Kelly Shoppach (29 in April, .261/21/55) or Carlos Santana (no, not that one!) (22-year old switch hitter who, granted is probably not quite ready for The Show just yet) could be had from Cleveland. I personally like Jeff Clement in Seattle (25 this past August), though his rookie season was diappointing (.227/5/23 in 203 AB).

Then again, to quote Dennis Miller, “That’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”

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Responses

  1. First of all, I need to say that Wake is my all time favorite pitcher. Even so, I can’t believe they re-signed him and I am not sure I agree with Theo on that one. There young pitching is just that but they will get better. I also like Byrd.

    As for Tek, he was going through a divorce this year. This year he couldn’t hit the ball off the tee. Next year he will be much better, you watch. BTW, when Shoppach was traded from the Paw Sox I pretty upset. Bad move.

    I also feel pretty good about Lowell being healthy next season. He is a work horse and they would be dumb to let him go.

  2. […] we’re talking about Teixeira, I need to admit to a mistake. A while back I had commented on how I didn’t want Teixeira. Yeah, I said, he’s a big bat that will protect Big Papi, […]


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