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Was the Price right?

Of course it was!  We are of course talking about David Price…in case that was a mystery.  Well, he did sign with the Red Sox about a week ago, so maybe it was…

Sure, he has underperformed in the playoffs, to put it nicely.  He has a history of listening too closely to fans/media/outside noise…not a great thing when pitching in Boston.  After Game 1 against Texas this past postseason, he claimed that he is nervous in his first postseason start of the year (fair enough), but also nervous during his “first spring training start” and “first bullpen”, etc.  And then used some sort of duck analogy.  Ok, a little weird.  So maybe some of these things are a little concerning.  Or a lot concerning.

But the Sox needed an ace…and thankfully they have moved on from the “5 aces” crap of last year.  Price was the best out there.  The Sox have the money.  This move HAD to be made.

You may say giving a 7 year contract to a 3o year old pitcher is stupid.  John Henry would have said that last year, but since he changes his mind every year, he didn’t care last week.  You may also say well, Jon Lester was age 30 last offseason and Henry and the Sox wouldn’t give him 7 years.  I would say the Sox didn’t really want to sign him at any price.  I think Larry Lucchino’s original offer of 4 years, 70 million should have told you that right from the start.  We’ve covered all that before though…

Let me also ask you this:  Would you rather have David Price at 7/217 or Jon Lester at 6/145 (plus 25 more in a 7th year or a 10 mil buyout)?  I don’t care how well Lester pitched in Boston, especially in the playoffs.  I don’t care if Lester came through the Sox’ system.  I don’t care if Jon Lester loves Boston.  The answer is easy…and it’s Price.  Price is a clear #1.  Lester, as good as he was here, really is more of a #2.  Take a look at his first year in the National League too.  11-12, 3.34, 207 K’s in 205 innings.  Not horrible, pretty good actually.  But not worth 25 laaaaaaaaaahge.  Obviously there is a long way to go to judge both of these deals.  But I’d take Price any day of the week and I think most of you would too.

If you are balking at the deal because of the 217 mil, well, have you seen the other contracts out there?  Greinke:  6/206.5.  Yikes!  But it goes way beyond that.  Johnny Cueto is still unsigned.  But he wants 25 mil plus.  These 3 were the “Big Three” of the free agent pitchers.  Fine, give them a boatload of dough.  Look deeper at the next “tier”.  Jordan Zimmerman:  5/110.  Jeff Samardzija:  5/90.  Hisashi Iwakuma:  3/45.  Mike Leake:  Unsigned, but looking for at least 15 mil/per.  Mike Leake??  If you ask me, John Lackey’s 2/32 is a steal when compared to the above contracts.  But still 16 per for a 37-year-old pitcher.

Sure, the money on the next level is less and the years are less.  But I’d still take Price’s contract over any of those.  Dig a little deeper.  Look at these:  Marco Estrada (2/26); JA Happ (3/36); Brett Anderson (1/15.8).  Rich Hill had 4 meaningless September starts for the Sox and got 6 mil from one of the cheapest teams out there in Oakland.  Switch gears to relievers:  Darren O’Day (4/31); Ryan Madson (3/22); Joakim Soria (3/25); Shawn Kelley (who?) (3/15); Tony Sipp (3/18).  Throw in position players:  Ben Zobrist (4/56); Chase Utley’s corpse (1/7); Colby Rasmus (1/15.8); Asdrubel Cabrera (2/18.5).  Chris Iannetta, a 32-year-old backup catcher who hit .188 last year…4.25 mil for him.

Ok, so the last paragraph was likely unnecessary.  But I like numbers, so deal with it.  The point has been driven home though I think.  The money is being spent out there.  May as well spend it on the best.  Especially when you still have guys like Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Rick Porcello and Wade Mil…ummmmmm, nevermind on him…still in your rotation.

So I liked the Price signing, that’s pretty clear.  Did I like the Wade Miley trade?  Glad you asked!  The answer is…I don’t know.  But I think I do.  Wade Miley is a nice #4 starter who you can seemingly lock into 30 plus starts and close to 200 innings.  That is a positive for any staff.  But he is still…Wade Miley.  Who is to say Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Steven Wright…or any other Joe Blow can’t step into the #4/#5 starter role and replace him decently enough?  Plus, as much as I am not excited about John Farrell coming back as manager next year, when Miley pulled that stunt in the dugout with him after being shelled earlier last year, well, let’s just say I didn’t love that.

So Miley should be replaceable.  Maybe his replacement will be Roenis Elias…who knows?  Elias is a couple of years younger, so that is a positive…for whatever that’s worth.  Losing Jonathan Aro?  Meh.  Carson Smith?  Kind of makes you wonder why Seattle would give up a cheap guy under control for several more years.  But trading a reliever for a durable starter?  Maybe that’s why.  I often would not trade starters for relievers.  But again, Miley can be replaced by…anyone.  And if Smith can help solidify the back-end of the bullpen…probably worth it.  I can’t really get all that worked up about it.

I AM however all worked up about trading Garin Cecchini for a bag of used balls and a couple of beat up fungo bats.  Ok, I am not.  I did find it surprising that Cecchini was DFA’d over a guy like Bryce Brentz…but since absolutely no one but me cares, I’ll save those thoughts for myself.

So with the signing of Price and 4th outfielder Chris Young and the trades for Smith and Craig Kimbrel, Dave Dombrowski says he is essentially done.  (Aside on Kimbrel:  I usually don’t love trading for closers when they can be “found” (see:  Uehara, Koji).  Nor do I love giving up prospects for 60-70 innings a year…4 of them to boot.  But I normally would trade prospects for proven players.  And I am not sure I am worried about any of the 4 prospects becoming someone the Sox regret they gave away.  Even Manuel Margot.  The Sox need bullpen help.  Sooooo…I came to terms with it).

Anyway, Dombrowski said something to the effect of that he “doesn’t like to lie as it sets a bad example…”.  I hope he is stretching the truth then anyway.  There is more work to be done.  I’d still like to see a solid #2 starter.  Is it Eduardo Rodriguez?  Maybe.  But I sure as hell hope it ISN’T Clay Buchholz.  I’d love to see him dealt.  It isn’t Rick Porcello…though his contract doesn’t look so bad anymore, no?  Maybe Ben was somewhat right on one thing at least.  Anyway, there is rotation depth yes, but I’d take another upper end starter.  Bullpen?  Good start with Kimbrel, Uehara, Smith and Tazawa.  Maybe Elias.  Maybe Joe Kelly?  Matt Barnes?  I guess.  Robbie Ross Jr. is a decent 10-11 guy I suppose.  I wouldn’t mind seeing another proven guy out there though.

Hanley Ramirez has to go as well.  Easier said than done, I am well aware of that.  But the outfield experiment did not work last year.  Do we really think the first base experiment is going to work this year?  Cancer in the clubhouse…all that.  Just do whatever it takes to get him out of here.  I think it happens.  But it’s going to take some time…and the Sox eating a lot of dough.  Maybe even until spring training when someone on another team gets hurt and a team panics.  I don’t know how it will happen, but it needs to.  I’d also investigate trading either of Jackie Bradley Jr. or Rusney Castillo.  I’m not sold on either of those guys really.  Maybe trade one of them while they still have some value.  Although I can live with the 4 guys (Young and Mookie Betts the other 2 of course) in the outfield if I have to.

A couple more months until Spring Training…still time to make some decent tweaks to the roster…

 

Inane banter…

…with myself while awaiting the legendary celebration the Red Sox are cooking up in preparation for Mike Napoli’s 200th major league home run…

*That’s why Napoli is still here, right?  For the marketing opportunities the Sox so love?  Since Nappy is at 199, I expected more hoopla around it.  Especially when John Farrell keeps penciling him into the lineup every night…and hitting him 4th or 5th to boot.

Does this make any sense at all?  Nap’s contract runs out at the end of the year, he has been absolutely putrid all year, the team is awful, etc.  Why is he taking up ANYONE’S playing time?

Listen, I have no idea if Travis Shaw will be even a serviceable major league ballplayer and/or if he is a real prospect or not.  But what is the harm in finding out now?  Especially when he had a weekend like he had last weekend and tore the cover off the ball.  Yes, it was 2 games.  But it felt like more than Napoli had done all season.

The organization was able to get a bag of used baseballs and a couple of beat up fungo bats (otherwise known as Josh Rutledge) for Shane Victorino…in addition to eating a lot of his remaining dough.  Are you telling me they couldn’t have gotten the same for Nappy?  So what if “he can clear waivers in August because of his salary”, as many yahoo’s have said.  Who needs him around now?

*Speaking of the trading deadline, it was refreshing to see the Sox do almost nothing.  Wait…no it wasn’t.  Admittedly, they didn’t have a whole lot of options to deal.  Not as much as last year anyway.  But there were some players that should have been shipped out.  In addition to Napoli, guys like Alejandro de Aza, Craig Breslow, Justin Masterson & Ryan Hanigan should have been given new addresses.  They weren’t going to get much for that steaming pile of dung, but these are also guys who serve no purpose on this team the rest of the year and are unlikely to be back next year.  Actually Hanigan may be, but as long as Christian Vazquez is recovered from his Tommy John surgery, he shouldn’t.  Vazquez and Blake Swihart should be the tandem, but I know they won’t be.  I’ll save my anger on that one for next spring however…

But one asset the Sox do have and have not dealt for 2 years running is Koji Uehara.  Love the dude.  But let’s be realistic.  He’s 40.  He has had a good year, but not quite as dominant as we have known.  He isn’t going to get better.  Etc.  Couldn’t get a nice piece for him?  Mystifying that they have not dealt him.

*The one move the Sox did make was to acquire Ryan Cook from Oakland.  Former All-Star…but ummmmm, think “All-Star” as in “All-Star Brock Holt” or “All-Star Scott Cooper” instead of “All-Star Mike Trout” or “All-Star Miguel Cabrera”.  In any event, had a decent run from 2012-14, though has been buried in the minors all this year for whatever reason.  Worth a look, especially since they traded zero for him essentially.

But where is he?  Pawtucket.  Because there needs to be space on the major league roster for Breslow, Masterson, Jean Machi (who?) and Machine Gun Joe Kelly.  Yup…makes total sense here too…nope…and don’t even get me going on Kelly.  Talk about useless.  I’d hold onto Kelly for now though, but wouldn’t throw him out there every 5 days to get pummeled.  Bullpen for him and see where that goes.  But…here he is toeing the rubber tonight.  Awesome.

*There is another dude in Pawtucket, Heath Hembree.  Dominates in AAA.  Never really has had an extended look in the majors.  Again, he may be no better than a AAAA player long term.  But do we need to see more Masterson?

*Sure looks like Jackie Bradley Jr. still cannot hit major league pitching.  6 for 51 for the year, 2 for 21 since his last recall.  At 25 years old, running out of time for his “prospect” status.  But you know what?  Keep him out there every day even when Mookie comes back.  Again, no need to see more of de Aza.  May as well play JBJ and see if he can hit a little in August.  September numbers may not matter, since he may be facing a ton of minor league pitchers then.  But let him play.  Maybe you can sucker someone into taking him over the offseason.

*Speaking of potential moves in the offseason, did anyone buy that garbage from Ben Cherington that he was “laying the groundwork” and “gathering information” for deals in the winter?  Me neither.  What a joke.  Heard that one before around here, by a gentleman named Peter Chiarelli.  And where is Pete now?

*Larry Lucchino stepping down as CEO and Sam Kennedy taking over.  I’ve said here before that, although Larry is a total arse, phasing him out from the baseball operation may have had a negative effect on the team this year.  Now they are officially putting a “non-baseball” guy in that chair.  Good thing?  Not sure.  Kennedy may be a helluva guy and smart as well.  But the team clearly needs to add more high level “baseball men” to the equation.  We will let it play out, but I can’t say I love what I am seeing with this move so far.

*LOVE the phantom injury the team came up with to put Rick Porcello on the DL last week.  Matter of time before that happened, but they likely had to convince Ricky to go for the idea.  Maybe next they can convince him to take the rest of the year off (like Clay Buchholz, except they won’t have to convince Clay to do so…he has probably already suggested it numerous times).  Stuck with the dude for the next four years, so they may as well see if they can get his head straight in this lost season.

*No tears shed over Daniel Nava getting claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay.  Nice story, overachiever, but he was brutal this year.  And a decent chunk of last year.  Can find a 32 year old 4th OF anywhere, like…de Aza!  Ok, Alejandro is only 31…

*I’d consider shopping Junichi Tazawa this winter.  He has had a nice run, but you know what happens with relievers.  Sometimes the shelf life is just not long.  And he isn’t even a closer.  30 years old next June, may be the time to sell somewhat high.

*I never bought the trade deadline rumors of being able to unload the Fat Panda onto the Padres or anyone else, for that matter.  But boy, if they could get someone to take that contract in the offseason, I’d drive him directly to that particular city.  If it was San Diego, I’d take Will Middlebrooks back for him.  After all, Bill James probably has Willy locked in to hit 32 bombs next year.  Good to see Will’s .212/9/29 line and .602 OPS landed him back in the minors with the Pads.  He’s hitting .333/2/10, .811 there in 51 AB’s, so maybe there is still hope for him.  Doubt it, but consider the next bullet…

*I leave with this:  Allen Craig is hitting .274/3/19 with 59 K’s and a .720 OPS in Pawtucket.  In 252 AB’s.  Ouch.  Probably works out to about 45 RBI’s projected over a full season.  Again, in AAA.  I don’t want to level any accusations or anything, but judging by the numbers alone and not seeing him in person at all…does he even care anymore?

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.

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