Red Sox Offseason: No New Names, But Perhaps New Results
Has complacency seized the Red Sox front office?
Since the team won its second World Series championship in four years, General Manager Theo Epstein has not made any big moves—outside of re-signing his own players. And now that Johan Santana is heading to Queens, it doesn't seem like any major refiguring is on the horizon either.
But really, what move has there been to make? A year after spending a combined $210 million on just three players (all who underperformed in '07), the Sox extended themselves on only one front: to trade for Johan Santana.
They did casually look into plenty of players (most notably Kerry Wood, Mike Lamb, and Brad Wilkerson) and these three would all have made sense for the Sox, one way or another.
Wood, a low-risk/high-reward guy, would have been given a shot in the bullpen, completing a solid dominance for Sox pitchers. However, that was the hope this past season in Chicago where Wood had injury problems and threw only 24 innings.
Lamb is probably the best non-starter in all of baseball (though he should be getting a starting gig in Minnesota), and would be good for any team that signed him.
Brad Wilkerson, who was a pretty good player from 2002 to 2004, isn't really all that useful anymore. He had a .786 OPS, which isn't terrible if you're a shortstop playing in Petco, but Wilkerson is a corner outfielder hitting in a bandbox. Wilkerson performed horribly at bat last year away from Arlington, ringing in an average below the Mendoza line.
What about some of the free agents available? Andruw Jones? Aaron Rowand? Kosuke Fukudome? None make sense at this point.
Jacoby Ellsbury has been given some very lofty projections from experts, even higher than the numbers projected for guys like Rowand and Jones. Fukudome is expected to hit an OPS from .800 to .850, which is lower that J.D. Drew's career number.
I know, Drew was a disaster last season…wait, no...no, he wasn't. Drew served up an OPS of .796. Yes, this was lower than expected, but he certainly didn’t need to be run out of town.
After the re-signing of Mike Lowell, Doug Mirabelli, Curt Schilling, and Mike Timlin, the Red Sox didn't really have many holes to fill.
In fact, the only hole in the lineup not accounted for is Julio Lugo. Lugo was an absolute atrocity at the plate, hitting for an OPS+* of 65, ranking as the 5th worst among American League regulars. The four players behind Lugo were, John McDonald, Josh Barfield, Nick Punto, and Gerald Laird…and they have all lost their starting jobs.
The Sox FO is going to give Lugo another shot, which is what you’ve got to do when you’ve given a mediocre player a four-year contract. If he's still hitting like a pitcher (Micah Owings excluded) in July, look for Jed Lowrie to get a real shot at the position.
At this point, the Sox look to have a pretty good chance at repeating the success of this past season. Most expect improvements at shortstop, right field, and centerfield with Mike Lowell possibly regressing to his 2006 form.
No new players, yet new results are ahead for the 2008 Boston Red Sox. Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks.
*OPS+ is OPS adjusted for park factors and the league average; 100 is average.
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