A quick message for Theo Epstein: BRING BACK TEK!
You knew it was coming. The Prince of Darkness AKA Scott Boras wants a four-year deal for Jason Varitek. He's too old for four, but he won't take two. Here's what you do, Red Sox. You offer him two years with two additional option years.
I realize that he's like an automatic out at the plate. I realize that he's expensive (mostly due to greed on Boras' behalf), but I'm worried about the team without him. If he retired, they'd be fine, but if he was playing somewhere else, like Detroit, it would end badly.
I realize the Boston mantra is generally "out with the old," but this is not Nomar Garciaparra or Manny Ramirez or anyone, this is Tek. This is the CAPTAIN. He is the leader and I'd rather have the Sox bite the bullet on a two-year deal with options or a three-year deal and keep the soul of this team.
Intangibles are important. Look at the change in the locker room pre- and post-Manny. They were a totally different team after the trade. But that wasn't just Manny being gone. They played for each other, not just with each other. Even if Boston brought back healthy vets like Mike Lowell, you'd still be losing the rock of the team in Varitek.
Besides, it's not like there is a stellar crop of catchers out there.
On to more free agents to be
Sean Casey and Mark Kotsay are both free agents. I feel like the Red Sox should keep one of them as a backup, they both have decent bats (Casey more than Kotsay) and play good defense (Kotsay more than Casey).
I'd rather keep Kotsay, as much as I love Casey, because he can play infield and outfield. Of course, with a healthy JD Drew, Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, and possibility of Coco Crisp returning, will they need it?
Answer: yes. You never know who is going to get hurt. it's always better to be prepared.
Alex Cora is up for free agency and I don't think Boston will keep him if they can't dump Julio Lugo off on someone. That's a shame because Cora is a decent backup infielder who can be groomed to become a really great manager. Have you ever heard this guy talk about baseball? He is so smart! And Terry Francona loves him.
Personally, I'd rather have a Jed Lowrie-Alex Cora infield than a Lowrie-Lugo one. Yipes! I'd like to keep Cora (if possible) and shift the infield around. Have Dustin Pedroia play short, Kevin Youkilis play second, and Lowell at third, and pick up free agent Mark Teixeira to play first. Then gives Boston great back-ups in Cora and Lowrie so the guys can have a day off on occasion.
Mike Timlin and Curt Schilling are both up, but guys, you need to retire. Do it now when you can go out with people still loving you. Don't do a Brett Favre. You're done. Go play golf and look at your shiny World Series rings.
I have mixed feelings about Paul Byrd and Javier Lopez. If the Red Sox can keep them for a bargain, good, if not...eh.
Up for arbitration
Paps. Boston needs to get Jonathan Papelbon a raise and an option deal. I wouldn't tie him up for a long-term deal because of shoulder injuries, but he's a great closer. Maybe give him the same option Tim Wakefield has? Or something similar.
Kevin Cash. Wake is back and he will likely be too. Tek can catch Wake, but if we get a new catcher (shudder) we'll need Cash and his experience with the knuckle-ball.
Pedroia. Give him a long-term deal (with a raise). This kid is for real, and he's young. Lock him up.
Jon Lester. Same as Pedroia. In about three years, Lester could be the best pitcher in baseball. Period.
Youk. This one is a no-brainer. Give the man a raise and lock him up for a few more years.
So that's my picks for the off-season. The team still needs a pitcher, maybe another bat, and a bid on CC Sabathia to raise the price for the Yankees. (he he)