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.