Quick turnaround…

So the Red Sox made some swift moves after losing out on bringing Jon Lester back.  But were they good ones?  They wouldn’t overpay for Lester, but seemingly overpaid for average pitchers?

At first blush, I can’t say that I am all that excited about any of them.  They got decent pitchers, but no aces, obviously.  Let’s hope the Sox aren’t done making moves.  Because there is still a lot of work to be done.

Let’s take a look at each deal individually:

*Wade Miley to Red Sox; Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa and Raymel Flores to Arizona:

Miley seems to be a decent pitcher.  Lefty.  Young enough at 28.  Middle of the rotation guy.  But ummmm, that is not what they need.  Have plenty of those already.

No one seems concerned that, since being an All-Star and 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2012, his ERA and WHIP have increased every year?  And if you are a “win” guy, his wins have been cut in half?  I’m not going to hold a lot of weight on the win part, but the other trends are a little concerning…especially since he was doing this in the National League West.  Other than Colorado, aren’t the other parks pitchers’ parks?  Maybe my understanding is wrong.  The American League East seems to be no longer the powerhouse it has been for years.  But I still believe it to be stronger than the NL West.

Sure, he pitches 200 innings and his strikeout rate went up last year.  Big deal.  The Sox could get Tim Wakefield back and he could throw 200 innings.  Throwing 200 innings is nice, especially since Clay Buchholz has never done it and will not likely ever do it.  But it’s better to be actually…good.

He’s cheaper than Jon Lester sure, but his salary will go from 500k to estimates of 5 mil in his first year of arbitration.  Must be nice to regress and then cash in.

As for the departed, the one guy in all these trades that I would’ve liked to have kept is de la Rosa.  Maybe because I have no idea how Flores will turn out to be in the future.  He is only 19 years old.  I’m sure I saw him play in Lowell more than a few times last year, but he doesn’t stick out as someone that was anyone special.  But who knows with 19 year olds?

As for Rubby, most of all I liked his ability to throw gas, which is something the Sox do not have a lot of.  He showed flashes last year and has had the best performance career-wise so far of all the “kids” that the Sox supposedly have.  I thought at the very least that he could transition to the back end of the bullpen well if he didn’t work out as a starter.  I felt there was a lot to like about him and would’ve stuck him in the rotation.  Time will tell on this one.

You can have Allen Webster though.  He did pitch better the more he was in the majors, but I have never been overly impressed with him.  Despite all the praise he has received all along.  And that the Sox “stole” him from the Dodgers.  Just didn’t see it with him.

So the Sox apparently had guys like Henry Owens (obviously), Chris Johnson, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Eddy Rodriguez, etc. rated ahead of the two pitchers they dealt, and were comfortable letting them go.  And I am almost always in favor of trading “prospects” for proven major leaguers.  But is Wade Miley that “proven major leaguer”?  Felt like this was an overpayment actually.

*Justin Masterson signed to 1 year deal for 9.5 mil:

Not much to really say here, as the Sox didn’t have to give up anyone.  Just the dough.

I actually don’t mind this move, though the money seems to be a little steep, especially since he could end up in the bullpen.  Believe it can go to 12 mil with incentives.  But it’s only 1 year, so I’m not going to get too hung up on it.

Again though, it’s not like they are actually “replacing” Lester here.  They are just adding another arm.  And who’s to say that someone like Owens or Rodriguez can’t give you what Masterson will give you?  Keep one of them up and spend Justin’s money on…well, an ace!  That seemed like a better option to me.  But based on the circumstances, I will live with him for this year.

*Rick Porcello to Sox; Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier to Tigers:

Porcello seems to be a better bet than Miley…he’s younger, has pitched in the AL his whole career, has improved yearly for the most part…and all of that.  But that doesn’t make him an ace.  They also had to give up significantly more, in trade capital as well as upcoming dollars (8.5 mil last year, maybe 12 plus this year through arbitration?).  He can also be a free agent after this year.

Let’s also not go crazy about him being a “200 inning pitcher”, as everyone seems to be harping on and lauding him for.  He has thrown 200 innings in a season exactly ONCE in his 6 year career.  Sure, he was up around 175 for the other 5 pretty much.  But 200 is a significant barrier these days.  Doing it once does not make him a “horse”.  And definitely not an “ace”, as I have already said.

I’ll take him on the staff, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve never been huge on him, but of the 5 slated to start the season in the rotation (Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Miley, Masterson the others of course), I actually probably like him the best.  That’s not saying much with that crew however.

I’m a little bothered by the fact that Yoenis Cespedes only provided Porcello in return.  AND, the Sox had to throw other bodies in.  The Tigers can have Alex Wilson, though when he was in Boston he always seemed to perform.  He has been talked about as a decent prospect in the past, but you could tell how the Sox really felt about him when he did pitch.  He couldn’t crack their bullpen full time, for one.  He was a short reliever in his minor league career, did some closing as well.  But when they brought him up here, they would toss him 2 or 3 innings and then ship him back.  Definitely didn’t seem too concerned about his arm.  Bet a lot of people didn’t know he was 28 years old either.  Getting up there for someone who was supposed to be a prospect.

Same thing goes for Speier that went for Flores above.  Except he wasn’t in Lowell last year, so I know I’ve never seen him.  But who knows at age 19?  I’ve never seen either of them on “top prospect” lists either, for whatever that’s worth.

But I expected a greater haul for Yoenis…as well as no need to throw other bodies in.  The guy has POWER, of which a limited supply of that exists out there.  Sure, he has only 1 year left on his contract.  But so does Porcello.  Sure, he has pretty much made it clear he intends to test free agency.  But I imagine Porcello will too.  Sure, everyone knew that the Sox planned on playing Hanley Ramirez in left.  And that the Sox had extra outfielders.  But this shouldn’t have hurt them in the market.  Maybe he did refuse to play RF next year.  Maybe those rumors of not being “coachable” were true.  Just seems like they could’ve gotten at least a little more for him and maybe they could have waited a bit before pulling the trigger.

As I stated in my last post, I am going to refrain from going too crazy about all of these moves and non-moves until the roster is set sometime in February.  This is a decent start, though still underwhelming for an organization of this stature.  Let’s just hope this is not the finish though as well.

 

 

Bye Bye Jonny Lester

But is it a bad thing?

Well, it sure as hell is right this second.  Unless you love you some Clay Buchholz as your #1 starter.  And Joe Kelly as your #2.  And from the collection of Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, Rubby de la Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Steven Wright and several others, your #3-#5.

YIKES!!

Some of the latter names, as well as some kids not mentioned, may well turn out to be great major league pitchers.  But they aren’t close right now.  So when you spend jillions of dollars to beef up your lineup with the Fat Panda and Hanley Ramirez, the pitching staff should follow suit, no?

But I am not panicking yet.

Listen, I have said all along I wanted Lester back and would have overpaid to do just that.  Although I’ve never considered him a true ace and under normal circumstances, I would not in a million (pun intended) years give him a 6-7 year contract for 150 mil plus at the age of almost 31.

But as I have also explained, these are not normal circumstances.  Look at the rotation names above.  That’s pretty much all you need to see.

Too late now.  It actually may have been too late once the Red Sox management, in their infinite wisdom, decided to start the negotiations at 4 years, 70 million back in the spring.  Look how close that was.  Fair negotiations are one thing.  Lowballing is another.  Being total morons are completely another.

Bashing the ownership trio of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, however easy it seems to be to do, is somewhat difficult for me actually.  After all, these guys have brought Red Sox fans THREE World Series Championships in the last decade.  After having none for 86 years.  Can’t really complain about that.

But you have to wonder about them sometimes.  That initial offer to Lester is laughable, these days even for a back end rotation guy it seems.  No less a guy that has come through your system, helped win 2 of those World Series’ (not to mention being lights out in them), overcome cancer while here, also has overcome the whole “chicken and beer” smear and blah, blah, blah.  These guys are businessmen, I get it.  They are trying to negotiate a deal that works in their favor, while also hoping that Jonny would give them the ol’ “hometown discount” (banking on something that Lester himself had said he would likely consider).

Sometimes you just have to ante up though.  Pinch your pennies elsewhere.  If they anted up in the spring, Lester may have signed for something along the lines of 5/100.  Once he had the great year and generated a ton of interest, that price obviously went up.  5/100 would have been reasonable.  6/155 that the Cubs gave him is downright stupid.  But also necessary, based on the market this winter.  If the Cubs get 4 pretty good years out of that, the deal is likely a good one for them.  Curious to see what triggers the 7th year at 15 mil.  A little excessive, if you ask me.  But the Cubs didn’t, so whatever.

I actually think that Lester wanted to return here.  He left them in the loop until the end.  And in the end the Sox offered 6/135.  Jon wasn’t leaving 20 mil (potentially 35 mil) on the table for sure, so he moved on.  Can’t blame him for that.  On top of that, makes you wonder if the Sox owners actually wanted him here in the first place.  Starting with the lowball offer last spring.  Along with the fact that they absolutely could’ve come up and matched the Cubs offer.  But they didn’t.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, John Henry went down and met with Lester and talked legacy and all that stuff.  I’m thinking right now though that it was all for show.  Make the Sox fans believe they tried to sign him and make them look good.

I’m not buying “the recruiting” right now myself.  Listening to Ben Cherington talk today and him saying stuff like “we went as far as we could go” and “we were looking for more dialogue, but we didn’t get it”.  Makes me want to vomit.  Are people really going to buy this crap?  I guess Ben is just reading off the script the trio gave him.  But still…

Anyway, back to the “not panicking” comment.

It’s December.  Still plenty of time to mold the roster for April.  Still plenty of available players, both free agents and through trades.  The Sox have plenty of “assets” to deal.

I’m not ruling out a run at Max Scherzer either.  Yes, he would be more expensive than Lester.  And he is about the same age.  Scott Boras represents him.  All of that.  But he is probably the better pitcher overall.  He has pitched pretty well in the postseason as well.  Would be a true #1 ace.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting it.  But it wouldn’t surprise me.  Since he will be out there for a while since that is how Boras does business, it may depend on how desperate the Sox get.

I think they will investigate other (read:  cheaper) options first however.  I was screaming for them to deal some of the kid pitchers LAST offseason.  They had plenty with good prospect rankings.  And they had yet to be potentially exposed in the majors to that point.  But they didn’t make deals.  Of course then some of them were exposed in the majors a little last year…and not in a good way.  Hopefully all the shine is not off of all of them for good however.

They also have a glut of position players on the roster.  OK, so I am not necessarily counting guys like Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks & Allen Craig.  Or even Daniel Nava or Brock Holt…who are nice pieces, but aren’t exactly going to bring you an ace back…or anyone close to that.

But they have Yoenis Cespedes to start.  Even with only one year left on his deal, and sure to command big dough after that, he should bring you a significant return.  Then you can try combinations of others to make something work.  I’m not interested in trading guys like Blake Swihart, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts or Henry Owens.  But if someone blows you away, all bets are off.  Everyone should be available for the right price.

I’m also in favor of building a great bullpen.  Overpaying for relievers is much different than overpaying for starters.  The back end consists right now of Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Edward Mujica.  Maybe Brandon Workman goes back to the late innings in 2015, where he had so much success at in late 2013.  This is a nice start, but a lot more work needs to be done here.  As silly as that Andrew Miller contract was, I probably would’ve signed him for that (4/36).  Sox can afford it if he washes out.  Guys like Luke Gregerson and David Robertson are no longer available.  So to get an impact reliever, the Sox may want to act fast in this area…for free agents anyway.

But there is time for the rest.  Let’s see what happens and then we can judge it when all is said and done.

Week old Thanksgiving leftovers…

…I’m eating them in real life, so why not some catch up on some leftovers here?

*Seems like a lot of people have been saying that the Patriots really played great against Green Bay this past Sunday.  Yes, they only lost by 5 points.  But I fail to see how they played great.  People are specifically saying the defense played great.  Now, I didn’t study the film, but I am a little confused by these assertions.

The Packers punted exactly once.

The Packers were 10-17 on third down…and it felt like 16-17, since they controlled the clock the whole game.

The Packers had several 25 plus yard plays, including that killer one to Jordy Nelson at the end of the first half.

Somehow, the Patriots had 3 sacks (and a HUGE one by Akeem Ayers that was wiped out by penalty.  No one talks about this one early in the game.  Ayers makes the sack deep in GB territory.  Would have been 3rd and forever.  But Brandon Browner slaps Jordy Nelson in the head with a “block”, the sack does not count, and GB marches down and scores.  This was a big one to me.  Stupid penalty.  But I digress…), but pass rush was nonexistent.  Aaron Rodgers had all day to throw…always.  Coverage may have been good for the most part, yes.  But give Rodgers (or anyone really) 12 seconds to survey the field and throw, bad things are bound to happen.

The offense was ok.  But some of the coaching decisions were baffling.  Right off the top, not running the ball against this defense.  Playing Brandon Bolden at all (great TD run and one before that notwithstanding).  When running early in the game, going with Shane Vereen between the tackles.  Playing Aaron Dobson at all.  And Marcus Cannon as the 6th offensive lineman was an abject failure.

As I watched the game live, surprised the Packers didn’t win by 20 plus.

As long as the Patriots cruise through the next 4 weeks, which they should, despite 3 of the teams being in the playoff chase (San Diego, Miami and Buffalo), last Sunday won’t matter.  But there is no room for error anymore since the Broncos should cruise through the next 4 weeks as well.  And the Patriots need the home field advantage more for sure.

Winnable game that got away.

*Will Jon Lester please sign somewhere so I can be done with it?  Reports now that the Yankees and Dodgers are now involved.  We know the Cubs and Red Sox are.  Teams like Atlanta, St. Louis and San Francisco have been mentioned, though likely long shots.

Is anyone surprised that the Yanks are now being mentioned?  Instead of going through all this foolishness, they tell the agents at the beginning to get back to them at the end of the process.  If they then feel like it, they will make an offer.  I’d love it if the Red Sox went with this method…at least on the big fish.  Instead of Uncle Larry Lucchino lowballing Lester last spring at 4 years, 70 mil.  And lowballing him now for allegedly 6/130 (while the Cubs are supposedly 6/138).  Just top the offer if you want him already.  Instead of trying to force the “hometown discount”.  Unless you don’t want him.

But why not just sign the guy instead of trading 5 prospects for an ace?  Seems like a no-brainer.  But it’s Larry, so what do ya want?

*Speaking of Lester and St. Louis and all…there is talk the Cardinals will rip up the 500k contract for John Lackey and give him a new one.  You know, the 500k that he willingly signed for Boston, but wouldn’t play for…but would happily play for in St. Louis?  Why on God’s Green Earth would St. Louis do that?  The guy is going to be a major jackass for them at some point this year, regardless of whether he is making 500k or 20 mil.  So make him play for the 500k.  He signed the original contract with that language in it, hold him to it.

*Guess I was wrong in a previous post about the Celtics being entertaining to watch.  Rajon Rondo has been atrocious (ok, harsh, but I still just want him out of town).  Kelly Olynyk has regressed…as have most of the others.  Marcus Smart got hurt.  And Jeff Green is still…Jeff Green.  Is it almost time to start unloading players Danny?  Or are we still waiting to see who the contenders are?  Don’t we already know?  Hurry up already…

*Speaking of deals, I feel like the Bruins need to make a splash.  I know David Krejci and Zdeno Chara are out with injuries.  And Adam McQuaid too if that floats your boat.  But this team needs some sort of kick in the arse.  And some better players.  That always helps.

The team has done a decent job of staying afloat despite the injuries.  And the total ineffectiveness of “go to guys” like Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand.  It’s nice to see some of the kids up and playing like David Pastrnak and Joe Morrow.  Gets them some experience at the very least I guess.  But this team cannot score.  Is it all because of Krejci?  Maybe Seth Griffith is a future goal scorer.  But he can’t score if Claude keeps scratching him.

Do we wait until healthy bodies return and all the lines and defensive pairings stabilize?  Maybe.  But I know who the guys are on the roster that Claude will play when everyone is healthy.  And it doesn’t excite me, that’s for sure.  I say make a blockbuster.  Maybe trade Loui, Fraser, Reilly and Morrow for Peverley and Seguin?  Har har har…

By the by, is everyone else excited that Peter Chiarelli locked Krejci up to a huge extension and then he starts missing games and then the whispers start about “chronic hip condition”?  Me neither…

*Last, but by all means, not least?  REVS, REVS, REVS, REVS!!!  The New England Revolution (the local entry in Major League Soccer, in case people did not know) will be playing for the fifth time for the MLS Cup on Sunday.  They are 0-4, but hey, at least, as Jonathan Kraft said (actually this afternoon on talk radio), “we have been to more than any other team”.  Guess it doesn’t matter to him if they actually win one or not…a disturbing idea, as the Kraft’s have been accused of that with the Patriots in recent years.

Anyway, they say 32,000 showed up at Gillette Stadium last weekend for the game that propelled them to the final.  Seems hard to believe.  Maybe soccer is on the rise here…finally.  Hell, I even listened to the 2nd half of the game ON THE RADIO.  Talk about something that seems hard to believe.  And although there is NFL football on the docket for Sunday, the MLS Cup does not interfere with the Patriots.  So I may indulge in a little soccer action then too.

Can’t believe I wrote all that about the Revs.  But hey, gotta root on all local teams, no?

And no, Boston College does not count.

 

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