Boston Red Sox: 6 Realistic Offseason Moves the Sox Should Consider for 2012
The Boston Red Sox finished the 2011 season with one of the most epic collapses in MLB history. Now that the dust has settled, the Red Sox announced the rise of Ben Cherrington as the new GM and former New York Mets skipper and ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine as the club's 45th manager.
With most of the important baseball operations pieces now in place, the Red Sox have to make some strategic moves this off-seaon in order to regain the order in Red Sox Nation.
Winning 90 games last season and missing the playoffs by one game means that, on paper at least, the Red Sox have a solid foundation to work with and it might only take a few tweaks to get back on track to a 95-win season.
Having taken the best part of two months to decide on a manager, the Sox missed out on big free agent signings, including closing pitchers Heath Bell and Jonathan Broxton, something with the loss of Jonathan Papelbon to the Philadelphia Phillies, now appears to be moving towards the forefront.
Carlos Beltran Plays Right Field in Fenway
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With J.D. Drew out of the picture (to the delight of many in Red Sox Nation), the Sox will be looking for a defensive minded right fielder who has a good bat to boot.
The rotating door of right fielders, Conor Jackson, Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald, only left the Red Sox more susceptible to average batting and defense.
Although Carlos Beltran is now 34 and has lost a step in the past few years, he still has solid batting numbers, .910 OPS, 22 homers and 84 RBIs and excellent fielding chops.
Alfredo Aceves to the Starting Rotation
The Sox can afford to take a flier on Aceves in the rotation with Daniel Bard and a now healthy Bobby Jenks working the late innings.
With three solid pitches and a history in the minor leagues of being a starter, Aceves could fill the five spot in a rotation that is sorely needing extra arms.
Add Starting Pitching Via Trade
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An option the Red Sox can consider is a trade for starting pitching. Having a healthy Clay Buchholtz back to join Josh Beckett and Jon Lester will make for an established starting trio. However, trouble could come easily if any injuries occur and there is no solid fourth starter waiting in the wings.
The Sox have a few guys that could be up on the trade block such as a package deal of Jed Lowry and Josh Reddick, or send Kevin Youklis's bat in exchange for a pitcher who posts at least 170 innings.
Potential targets include Brandon McCarty of the Oakland A's, who posted 170 quality innings in 2011, with a 1.13 WHIP and 123/25 strikeouts to walks.
Also, Matt Garza, averaging just over 30 starts and 200 innings the last three seasons, he establishes a durability that has been lacking in the Red Sox starting rotation. And, with the Cubs still owing compensation for former GM Theo Epstein, the Sox might have a leg up on the competition.
DH by Platoon
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With the re-signing of David Ortiz is still in the air, the Red Sox can consider the option of DH platooning. If the Sox were able to get someone like Carlos Beltran then the opportunity arises to split a DH role.
The past two seasons have been injury plagued for Kevin Youkilis, but he still provides a pop at bat
Teaming up Youkilis with someone like a Beltran in right field could provide both with ample playing field time, but also needed rest, especially as the season gets down the road. This also gives other players like Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia the chance to take a break without losing their bats.
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Jonathan Papelbon is gone, and the Red Sox are without a closer. Conventional wisdom says Daniel Bard, 2011's set-up man should be the guy to move into that role, but he had more than a few shaky appearances as the season was on the line.
Bobby Jenks has a closer résumé, having won a World Series with the White Sox, he was brought in to add stability to the set up position and grab a few saves at the same time. However, injuries struck and he never materialized as a threat. Now healthy, he's due for a bounce-back year.
Insert Joel Zumaya into the mix. After what many thought could have been a career ending injury, he is throwing a mound session in mid December, and the former flamethrower says he's feeling better than ever. The Red Sox are one of many teams interested in seeing his stuff.
With the potential of three qualified eighth and ninth inning men, the Red Sox could have the makings of a shutdown bullpen.
Bring in a New Pitching Coach
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After a sub-par season in Boston, pitching coach Curt Young has gone back to Oakland and the Red Sox are in desperate need of a capable coach to get this talented, yet unruly staff back in line.
Enter Dave Wallace, currently the minor league pitching coordinator for the Atlanta Braves, he was the guy behind the pitching staff during the Red Sox 2004 World Series run and could be looking for a shot back in the majors.
Couple that with the fact that he was new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine's pitching coach during his tenure with the New York Mets, and it could provide a solid winning formula for the 2012 season.
Bid on Yu Darvish
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The Red Sox have been down this road before, having successfully bid $51,111,111 on Dice-K back in 2007. Given Dice-K's ups and downs since, Red Sox Nation might not be ready to embark on another Japanese sensation, but Yu Darvish has a ton of talent.
The deal would work for the Red Sox because of the low salary Darvish would require comparatively to the other pitchers of his caliber available, young age and potential longevity. It also would not require the Sox to deal any trades or prospects in a farm system that is already lacking a lot of depth.
Throw in the fact that he speaks English, and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine knows Darvish from his days managing in Japan, and according to Fox Sport's Ken Rosenthal, "loves him."