I picked the Red Sox to win 82 games. They won 97 and another 11 in the playoffs to take the World Series. Nice job. But I wasn’t alone, so I guess I feel a little better. I’ve gone back through and compared the individual players’ final statistics to my projections made in April. OK, projections can be kind of silly, especially in baseball, where over the course of 162 games many things can happen that make the projections even more irrelevant than they are in the first place. Injuries, trades, call-ups not forseen, etc. But they are fun to do…for some people anyway. I didn’t really compare them in a lot of detail, but I actually hit some numbers pretty close. Napoli’s HR’s, right on the nose at 23, though shy by 21 on his RBI’s and 75 (!!) on his K’s. Carp’s dingers I had 11 and he hit 9, though I had him at .244, when he actually hit .296. Ellsbury I had at .294 (hit .298), Pedroia .304 (hit .301). Gomes 48 runs (he had 49). Drew 9 HR’s, .257 (actually 13, .253). Lackey 10-12, 4.55 (was 10-13…but 3.52…oops). Lester 16-10, 3.59 (was 15-8. 3.75). OK enough…but good to see I had some numbers in the ballpark! My complete misses were the durability of Koji (had low #’s for him, didn’t think he would hold up). Had similar AB numbers for Iglesias, but while he hit .330 for the Sox, I had him at .203…nice…
Anyway, now that I’ve bored anyone who may have been actually reading this, I am still pretty much in disbelief about the 2013 Sox team. On paper, most thought they were no more than a few games over .500, maybe somewhat in the mix for the last wild card spot, if everything broke right. Sure, they were a bunch of “great guys”, who “loved to play the game” and liked each other immensely it appears. But I am sure there have been plenty of other teams like that over time that haven’t won squat. I’ve always been skeptical on the whole chemistry thing. I have a good friend who played ball at a high level back in the day and he swears by it. And I played ball at nowhere near a high level back in any day, so who am I to argue? I still think overall that winning creates chemistry. The more you win, the more everyone is happy with their personal situation, their surroundings and all that. But talent can also win as well, with little chemistry. I have no idea how the chemistry was on some World Series teams over the years, but it is easy to spot the ones who have tremendous talent. There are plenty of cases on both sides, I am sure. But this Sox team was certainly unique any way you slice it. And it was a heck of a ride.
Not much more to say about this past years team that hasn’t been already been said by everyone else at this point. Here’s a few thoughts for the offseason.
*Need some turnover: A lot of people around here want to bring the whole band back next year. No changes, regardless of cost. No way. Changes have to be made for many reasons. But especially bringing guys in who have some hunger still. Not that these guys are satisfied with winning the World Series, so now they will sit back and count their money. But we should have learned this lesson firsthand from the 2011 Cup winning Bruins. They brought something like 17 out of 20 guys back the next year and were dumped in the first round. Heard excuses like “2012 seemed like one big long year, with the Cup run, short summer, etc.”. Lines like that are unacceptable to me, not sure how the B’s accepted stuff like that either. But regardless, their hunger was somewhat gone, intentional or not. Need to integrate new blood every year.
*Free agents: Damn, they outrighted Quintin Berry and Brandon Snyder the other day. John McDonald and Joel Hanrahan weren’t qualified. Matt Thornton’s option was declined. We NEED these guys back! Ok, total joke, though stashing Berry at AAA and having Thornton at the back end of the bullpen wouldn’t be the worst thing. But the key here is the “Big 4”. Not surprised they qualified Ellsbury and Napoli of course. Kind of surprised they qualified Drew. Kind of surprised they didn’t qualify Salty.
Regardless, goodbye Jacoby. Thanks for your service. Thanks for staying relatively healthy this year and helping us win a Series. But go get your dough somewhere else. Not that the Sox don’t have the dough to pay him. Or that I think Jackie Bradley Jr. is ready to step in. But to give a 31 year-old OF with little power and knowing his speed will probably decline as he ages 20 mil a year for several years? No thanks. Remember Carl Crawford? I would love to have Nap back. But I am not sure I would overspend for him either. I was opposed to the original 3 year, 39 mil contract last offseason and was very happy with the 1 year, 5 mil (with incentives) that it ended up being. At this point, I’d probably give him the 2 for 26 back. I think he will want more though. And he may still be pissed about getting screwed last offseason.
Under no circumstances do I want Drew back. None. I want Bogaerts at SS for years to come. And I am not totally ready to give up on Middlebrooks. As I said, I was surprised at the offer for 14.1 mil. But then I thought that maybe Boras and the Sox had some sort of agreement that he wouldn’t accept it. Kind of like, you hook me up with Dice-K and we’ll hook your client JD Drew up (what?! shhhhhhh…). But now the rumblings of him coming back to the Sox in a multi-year deal? Please God, NO!!! 14.1 is at least double what Salty is worth. But I might have done it, if he would only go one year. Someone will probably offer him multiple years though, so it makes you wonder why the Sox didn’t take the plunge, getting draft pick compensation when he left. Maybe other teams watched the playoffs though, and will be scared away. With the Sox young catchers a ways away, me not wanting to spend 5 years, 80 mil on Brian McCann, Ross still around, the Sox’ apparent fear of Lavarnway actually catching in the big leagues, etc. would have me maybe doing it. Even better if we could lock him up for 2 for 14-16 or something. Not that it couldn’t still happen.
*See if there is any trade value with the veteran the starting pitching: Lackey is 35, came off a good year, pitched well in the playoffs and has a reasonable contract now, with 2 years left and the 2nd year being like 500k. What better time to deal him? Peavy was atrocious in the playoffs and obviously isn’t the same guy as he once was. Thanks for helping the Sox get home field, but will an NL team take him if the Sox eat some dough? If the young kids are the real deal, did Doubront increase his value in the WS? Are we done with Buchholz’ lack of durability and also could they get full value for his actual ability? Worth exploring all options.
*Young guns: As far as the aforementioned kids go, Workman, Britton, de la Rosa and Webster all pitched on the big league level to varied success levels. They are technically all starters. As are guys like Ranaudo, Barnes & Owens. If the vets don’t get dealt, these guys all need to start getting integrated into the big leagues in middle relief I would say. Or be trade bait. Can the Sox get a power bat for a combination of these pitchers and assorted other prospects/young players (Middlebrooks? Lavarnway? Mookie Betts?)? The popular name is Giancarlo Stanton. He would be nice, but I am sure there are other big bats available on the teams that don’t want to pay for them going forward. At some point, these guys won’t be “prospects” any more, so let’s see what is out there.
The World Series just ended a little over a week ago. But most of the other teams have been in “offseason” mode for about a month. Never too early to think about building next years team.
A few Red Sox related trade deadline comments:
*Probably 99 times out of 100, I support trading prospects for proven major league stars. Prospects are prospects…never know if they are going to pan out. Proven major leaguers already have. No brainer. Armas Jr. and Pavano for Pedro. Every day. Rizzo, Kelly and Fuentes for Adrian Gonzalez. I’d do that one again. Jury is still out on the 3 kids, and Adrian obviously is no longer here. But a worthy gamble. Even the Gagne trade was fine. Gagne was atrocious, but what did you give up? David Murphy? Solid 4th OF, no more. Kason Gabbard? Nothing. The “jewel” of that trade was a then 17 year old kid by the name of Engel Beltre. 6 years later this June, he finally got called up by the Rangers. 9-29 in 12 games thus far, plays sparingly in the OF. Minor league stats aren’t special. Big deal he got traded.
*However, for some reason, I feel differently about the prospects the Sox have…TODAY. You’ve all heard the names: Bogearts, Bradley Jr., Brentz, Barnes, Webster, Workman, de la Rosa, Swihart, Marrero, Ranaudo, Owens, Britton, Vasquez, Cecchini, etc…probably a couple of guys like Mookie Betts or something that the Sox think highly of too and we just don’t know it. Plus there is still Middlebrooks and probably Iglesias can be included as well. And Daniel Bard. OK, kidding on Bard. But clearly, all of these guys will not make it…or at least make it big. Also, there is the fairly big factor that 40 man roster space will be needed for some of these guys come the winter. That can’t be overlooked, since there may not be enough room for all of them. So there WILL have to be trades. Just a matter of when.
*I expected this to be kind of a transition year for the Sox. 82-80, I said. There is still time for them to regress, but that seems to be unlikely at this point. Their next 16 games (including tonight) are soft. I’m thinking 12-4. I’m also thinking that anything they do this year is a bonus. I also understand that when you are close, you should probably go for it. But do the Sox really need to give up 4 top prospects for Cliff Lee? Or 3 for Jake Peavy? I think a couple of minor moves are in order, but major ones for this year? I’m still debating that internally actually. The Sox should know the guys with the highest upside. I’m hoping that if they do make deals, they keep those guys (ie: Bogaerts).
*Speaking of Cliff Lee, I would absolutely love to have him. But for Bogaerts? Nope. 15 year age difference for one. Supposedly Xander is the next big thing, for two. And the Sox should care about the salary disparity, even if they can obviously pay the freight on Lee. I wouldn’t care about taking on the contract. But if the Phillies are looking to get out from under the dough (and I am not sure that is their motive, since they can afford him as well), then let’s not give them real prospects too. Like the Dodgers did for the Sox last August. They took all that salary and gave the Sox real prospects in Webster and de la Rosa. The Sox should not return the favor to the Phillies. And no one else really should either.
*I’d take Papelbon back. But isn’t it curious that Detroit got Jose Veras instead? They can afford Pap, but went with a journeyman. Tells me that Pap’s value is down. But if the Sox could get him for a low level prospect, I’d still do it.
*No thanks on Michael Young. It’s not that I like Brandon Snyder, Brock Holt or Drew Sutton at 3rd. Or even Middlebrooks the way he is this year. But Young ain’t solving any problems. What I WAS going to write was to bring Bogaerts up right now and stick him at 3rd (a la Manny Machado in Baltimore last year), move Iglesias back to SS and tell Stephen Drew to get used to playing twice a week, since he is awful and won’t be here next year anyway. If he doesn’t like it he can hit the road. But apparently Iggy is headed out in a Peavy deal. So much for that idea. But I’d still bring Bogaerts up now.
*I’m not sure how I feel about the Iglesias deal as we speak. I’d like to see what other pieces are involved first. I know Iggy isn’t going to hit .330 over the course of a full year. But he has improved as a hitter, no question. And his D is off the charts, as everyone knows. If he hits .240 and plays SS defense like he does…isn’t that pretty damn good? Maybe they feel Bogaerts and/or Marrero will be close defensively and better offensively and are selling high on Jose. Still processing.
*Still wonder how I like Peavy too. I think they need more help in the bullpen (and I am not counting on Jose Contreras, even if he is mowing them down in Pawtucket…or Brandon Lyon for that matter…though I don’t mind them providing depth). But with the 4 starters they have in Lester, Lackey, Dempster and Doubront, the return of Morales (hopefully), the possibilities that Workman, Webster and de la Rosa present in the next couple months…and maybe Buchholz will grow a set and come back too…is it necessary to spend a lot of dough on this kind of starter? Great year in 2012, but hurt a lot in the previous several years and also this one. Maybe they worry about Morales staying healthy, the kids actually being productive, Buchholz actually coming back, Doubront piling up innings, Lackey holding up, etc. All legitimate concerns. But let the trade be finalized and we’ll see what else is involved and I’ll have more of an opinion.
*Jackie Bradley Jr. removed from Pawtucket game tonight. Trade to follow? He’s supposed to be considered untouchable. But if he goes in a package for Giancarlo Stanton, sign me up! Marlins apparently claiming they won’t deal him, and they probably shouldn’t (until he actually has enough service time to make some real dough). But stranger things have happened.
Not many hours left to wait ’til everything is all said and done, we shall see…