Boston Red Sox: 2010 Offseason Preview
The Boston Red Sox will have quite a few issues to address this off season. While their offense has been a nice surprise this year, they still need to improve if they want to compete with the Yankees and Rays in the East.
The strength of this team was supposed to be their pitching staff however, it has been very inconsistent. This rotation was expected to be the best in baseball, but in reality, it has been average. Not to mention the bullpen has been a complete disaster.
I will suggest a few moves that the Sox should and could make this off season. Feel free to comment and give your suggestions.
Red Sox catcher, Victor Martinez is a free agent to be and it will be interesting to see how the Sox handle this situation. Victor has had somewhat of a disappointing season but we all know what he is capable of. I am sure that after seeing the extension that Twins catcher, Joe Mauer received (eight years, $184 million) and the four year $60 million deal that Posada signed with the Yankees a few years back, Victor is probably going to want a little more than the Yanks backstop.
The Sox recently acquired Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Rangers and if they are unable to reach an agreement with Martinez, Salty could end up being the backup plan. Salty was a highly touted prospect for years but has not lived up to expectations. If he ends up being the starter, the Sox will likely try and bring back team captain Jason Varitek.
Catching has not necessarily been a strong point for the Red Sox and if they cannot bring Victor back then they could have even more trouble at the position.
First Base-Adrian Gonzalez
Rumors circulated before the start of the 2010 season that the Red Sox were trying to acquire Padres All-Star first basemen Adrian Gonzalez. The Red Sox could use another left handed power bat and Gonzo could be the solution. The biggest problem with this is simple-what would it take to acquire such a great player?
The Sox have a great minor league system and saw some of those prospects step up big this season. Outfielder Ryan Kalish, pitchers Felix Dubront and Michael Bowden have been key guys recently for the Sox. They also have Lars Anderson who was projected to be their first baseman of the future, so I am sure he would have to be included in the deal.
The Sox have versatility at the position because they have All-Star Kevin Youkilis who can play great defense at third if Boston is able to pull off this blockbuster deal.
Third Base-Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre should finish in the top-5 for AL MVP in 2010. He is arguably having the best season of his career this season. However, he has shown throughout his career that he is not the most consistent of players. After the 2004 season with the Dodgers, Beltre cashed in big time with the Mariners and was a bust. The Sox have an option on Beltre for 2011 but personally I think they will pick up the option just to trade him. As good as he has been, I think he caught on with the Sox just to try and cash in for one last big contract.
The Sox also have a couple other options here as well. As previously stated, Youk could slide over to third base if they are able to acquire Gonzo or even sign Carlos Pena. Another option could be to try and swing a deal with the Braves for Omar Infante, but it is unlikely that they would trade one of their best players who costs next to nothing.
Outfield-Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew
The Red Sox outfielders have been a complete disappointment in 2010. Left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has missed almost all season with broken ribs, center fielder Mike Cameron has been a disaster as he has played with abdominal pains all year, and right fielder J.D. Drew just has not played well. The Sox defense was supposed to be built around run prevention but it just has not played out that way. They have relied on the likes of Darnell McDonald, Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, Eric Patterson, and others to carry the load out there. While these guys have all filled in nicely, it is tough to be successful with a cast of minor leaguers as everyday players.
The Sox have all three starters under contract next year and it will be difficult to add another quality bat. It looks like the Yankees will go all out on Carl Crawford and it looks as if Adam Dunn wants to stay in Washington. Another possibility that is realistic is Jayson Werth. He is a 20-20 guy who can play good defense. However it will be interesting to see if Werth would be willing to play left field and then move Ellsbury back to center.
After getting off to yet another slow start, Big Papi has turned it on huge this year. For quite awhile he was probably the Sox second or third best hitter. However, he has a $12 million option and the Sox have a decision to make. Two years in a row now he has gotten off to a terrible start, just to turn it around. Can the Sox count on that for a third straight year? Ortiz is likely going to want a multi-year deal instead of just his one year option.
I expect the Sox to decline the option but try and resign him for somewhere in the neighborhood of two years at about $7.5 million per season. The Red Sox are going to use Vlad Guerrero's contract as leverage and point out that Vlad is having a better year for half the money and if Papi does not take a paycut, they can go out and sign someone like Adam Dunn for a bit more money but much more value.
As I said, Dunn is one option if he is willing to DH, Lance Berkman, Derrek Lee, or possibly even Paul Konerko are all alternatives if they do not bring Ortiz back. I expect Ortiz to be back but with a paycut.
The Red Sox bullpen has been a complete disaster to this point this season. We have seen meltdowns by Ramon Ramirez (who is now in San Fran), Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, and even Jonathan Papelbon. The only consistent pitcher out of the pen has been rookie Daniel Bard. Do not be suprised if the Sox try and trade Papelbon and make Bard the closer. Papelbon has not been the same over the last couple years and I am sure the Sox do not want to pay him the money he thinks he is worth.
Arguably the most sought after pitcher at the deadline was Blue Jay's left-hander Scott Downs. The Sox may try and bring Downs in and send Okajima packing. Other possibilities are Arthur Rhodes (CIN), Scot Shields (LAA), Matt Guerrier (MIN), or J.J. Putz (Chi White Sox). The Sox bullpen will definitely be the biggest focal point of the off season.