Theo Epstein, Here's My Christmas List
I don't want a lot for Christmas, I've got pretty much everything I could want. I have a a nice cell phone, an iPod Touch, an Xbox 360 with Xbox Live, and there is a car waiting for me when I get my driver's license in the near future.
Recently, I've been spoiled by my sports teams. But I'm not (too) spoiled. I understand the value of hard work. I get that money (technically) doesn't grow on trees. What else could I want?
I won't be asking for a whole lot for Christmas this year, but at my age, I'm a little old to be asking Santy Claus to bring the presents this December.
What other jolly old fat guys can I turn to? The spirit of Chris Farley (may he rest in peace)? I don't think so.
So, pleeeeeeeease, Mr. Epstein, I've been a good boy this year, and there isn't really a nonchalant way of doing this, but here's my Christmas list.
Adrian Gonzalez is EXACTLY what the Red Sox need. A first baseman in the prime of his career, and cost effective. A great hitter, an adequate fielder, Gonzalez will cost a king's ransom for whichever team trades for him, but it will be worth it.
His home run total has increased each year since 2006, when he hit 24 homers. In 2007, he hit 30, the next year, 36. In 2009, he hit 40.
For the first time since '06, he fell just short of 100 RBI (99), and finished with a marginal batting average (.279), but made up for it with a career-best 119 walks.
And here's the best part. For top-tier offensive production from Gonzalez, the paying team will have this slugger under team control for two more seasons. Gonzalez will be guaranteed just $4.75 million, including a $5.5 million club option for 2011. Top tier production, low tier cost.
Considering Boston's and San Diego's needs, a package of Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson, and Michael Bowden would be a fair offer. San Diego would receive a Major League-ready outfielder and starting pitcher, as well as a prospective cornerstone first baseman.
Do not get me wrong here, Jason Bay is a good player and I like him.
That being said, though, he just doesn't fit the Red Sox' needs. He is far too streaky of a hitter to deserve being the feature home run hitter of the lineup, and his defense, for lack of better word, sucks.
While he isn't a bad guy to have around whatsoever, an aging, incredibly streaky hitting, inept fielding left fielder who turns down a four-year, $60 million contract offer isn't who we ought to be concerning ourselves with this winter.
We need to respond to the Yankees taking home number 27. Re-signing Bay isn't doing that; signing Matt Holliday would be a great start. So, maybe his 2007 numbers were a little inflated, but Holliday is still a very good hitter, in the prime of his career, who can realistically hit well over .300 with 25-35-plus home runs.
His defense is at least 10 times better than Bay's, and while he would come at a steeper cost, just think of the numbers Holliday could put up surrounded by names like Martinez, Pedroia, Youkilis, and (theoretically) Gonzalez.
Theo might be a fan of developing his own players, which by no means is bad, but (no matter how much big-market-team-haters refuse to believe it) nobody is going to win a World Series without some help from the free agent market.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last impact free agent I remember the Red Sox signing was Daisuke Matsuzaka. Seriously? Instead of going to the bargain basement this winter, you've gotta open the check book. Holliday's bat will be worth every penny.
Starting pitcher: Lackey/Garland/Harden/Chapman
Boston's bullpen is way too overworked, and no matter how many deteriorating pieces of crap like Brad Penny the Red Sox sign, the rotation is too thin. Let's add some REAL depth to the rotation this winter by grabbing one or two out of this group.
John Lackey would be a very nice addition to the middle of the rotation, but his recent injury history worries me so I would not feel comfortable getting into a bidding war. But if Lackey can be had at a reasonable cost, please, sign on the dotted line.
As for the other three, Garland would be ideal because he is a workhorse (200-plus innings pitched in five of last six seasons) as well as serviceable (4.01 ERA in 2009). Garland can go deep into ball games with ease, which could lead to much needed nights off for the relievers.
Another welcome addition to the rotation would be Rich Harden, although with his medical record, I would be beyond cautious with him. But, when healthy, there is much to like about Harden.
As well as adding a starter or two, the Sox would be best served by giving Tim Wakefield a long relief role. It would give the Red Sox a clean-up guy for long stints of relief as well as spot starts.
Alex is the best option to go with at shortstop for a multitude of reasons. For one, we have sadly figured out that Jed Lowrie isn't going to be the player we hoped for, and what other in-house options do we have? Chris Woodward? No thanks.
A-Gonz is a GREAT defensive shortstop, can occasionally hit, and can be brought back cheaply. For a team among the league's worst in defensive efficiency last year, defense needs to be a priority when addressing our weak points (namely shortstop and left field).
No matter how tempting Miguel Tejada and Marco Scutaro may look on the free agent market, just keep it simple and stick with Gonzalez. I'm not opposed to giving Lowrie every chance to succeed, but how 'bout landing a Plan B in case Jed just doesn't work out (again)?
Besides, who could resist the possibility of having two guys named "A-Gonz" on the same team?