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A little blurb from Nick Collias of MLBTR. Apparantly AGon feels he is “Boston Bound”
“Of course, none of this is to rule out the possibility that the Red Sox trade for Adrian Gonzalez. Arangure quotes “sources close to” the Padres first baseman as saying that while the Red Sox are not actively pursuing him at the moment, Gonzalez considers a trade to Boston “inevitable.”“
Well… as many of you have noticed and emailed me about, I took a couple weeks off. Quite frankly because there is nothing going on in the baseball world, especially with the Yankees or Sox that was worth talking about. The biggest news was the the Mets signed Barajas… I’m sorry, but I don’t think that he is much better than a guy they could pull up from the minors. Luckily, they signed him to just a $1MM deal with another million in incentives. Barajas could provide a little power and if he can become a bit more of a gap hitter, he could have a solid year at Citifield.
However, now that time has begun. The twitching has stopped. The tarp is up. Its baseball season and I am one happy camper. First of all, for those of you who are not ESPN Insiders (which I think is the deal of the century for the amount of information you can receive directly from many great writers, as well as projections, and other information that are not available to the general public), ESPN and Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA ranking system ranks the Boston Red Sox to finish this season with 94 wins, and the American League East division winners in 2010! Sorry fans, had to get that out… However, Baseball America came up with similar results, crediting the Sox with a 95 win campaign and again, first in the AL East. I came up with similar numbers to PECOTA using my own ranking system (which I will eventually, hopefully before Opening Day, get posted as downloadable Excel spreadsheets). I’ve been very excited about a few things coming into this season.
David Ortiz – I want Big Papi to give the Sox a reason to bring him back on a short term deal at least. Its no coincidence in my eyes, that he started training 2 months late, and his bat picked up to lead MLB in home runs for the remainder of the season, 2 months late. I’m sorry, thats a little to convenient for my liking. I’m looking for .280/.375/.510 or better from Big Papi. Say 30 homers and 105 RBI’s (this is of course pending him staying healthy). If he can bring that to the plate, I say the Sox consider keeping the powerhouse clutch DH that has dominated the position for years.
Adrian Beltre – Watch out. This guy is coming in with new found determination. Ever time I’ve seen him, he’s not talking about Boston. He’s not talking about formalities. He is straight to baseball. This man is straight business and is the best defensive 3rd baseman (and probably the best defender period) MLB has ever seen. Not only that, but he’s got a lot of power and that uppercut swing that made Jason Bay so successful at Fenway. Look for 20 balls to find their way over that Green Monster this season, and perhaps 30-40 doubles as well.
Marco Scutaro – I disagree with those that think last year was a fluke. If you watch video of Scutaro from Oakland to Toronto to Boston, he’s adapted his stance and swing a bit. I think it all came together for him last season and he had an every day opportunity to play. Do I think he will hit .290-.300? No. Do I think a line like .270 35 home runs, 200 RBI’s and 30 SB with Gold Glove caliber defense a good probability for his 3 years in Boston. Absolutely. And thats all the Sox need or expect from Scutaro, stability. If he can get his home run total up around the 15 mark, and can hit 30+ doubles, I’d consider this contract a very good one. Lets not forget, if this works out to be a fluke, the next Sox member I’m discussing would be a similar style player who works as a cheap replacement.
Jed Lowrie – Jed has shown flashes of how good he can be. He was like a double machine during the ’08 campaign who showed he also had a feel for the longball at the start of the season. However, he played most of the season with a broken wrist, and his power quickly diminished. Coming into the ’09 campaign, Lowrie thought he was healthy, and again, the wrist acted up. He would up hitting around the .180 mark in the few games he played and showed none of the power that he previously had. Now, many surgeries later, Lowrie is convinced he will be back. He will likely start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket to insure that his wrist is durable enough to hold a spot on the big league roster. However, when an injury occurs, Lowrie knows he will get the first call to prove himself again at the major league level. Most believe .275/.360/.450 is a likely line for the youngster in years to come if he could just stay healthy. Not great numbers, but by comparison with other shortstops, he could be well above the average.
3 Aces Competition – One of the great things about the ’07 Sox, was the constant competition between Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett, neither wanting to be the one to break a chain of great starts. In ’08 and ’09, Beckett has been Lester’s mentor, and Matsuzaka is more competitive with himself than others. Now Lester has emerged as a very potential ace (if you don’t consider him one already). Lackey is a bulldog competitor just like Beckett, and the two of them already have a “friendly” relationship after spending some time together at the All-Star game a few years back. I can see a 3 way competition now that Lackey is added into the mix. Both Lester and Lackey will battle it out as their rotation spots are pretty interchangable. Lackey and Beckett will battle, because thats just what they both do when their dominance is challenged by another strong arm. Look for a career year from Lester (I really think he will be a top 3 Cy Young contender this year, especially with how well the change-up has developed), a big contract year from Beckett, more to prove to the Sox why they should give him a long term deal then to raise his free agent value, and a very strong year from Lackey so long as he stays healthy. Matsuzaka is another potential ace. If he can get it together to pound the plate a little more so that he can go 6-7 innings, he is easily the best #4 in baseball. Buchholz and Wakefield rounding out that rotation is just scary. Buchholz could well have a strong year as well if he is not held back at all by lack of starts.
Its going to be a very exciting season, and I cant wait to see some of these guys throw and swing. Its the beginning of a long season.
This only makes sense if the trade deadline nears, and the Sox can’t get Beckett to sign an extension.
Josh Beckett from BOS
Marco Scutaro from BOS
Jose Reyes from NYM
Adrian Gonzalez from SD
Fernando Martinez from NYM
Lars Anderson from BOS
Jed Lowrie from BOS
SD gets a good return on AGon, so they don’t lose him for nothing. Mets get the pitching they need. Boston gets their franchise SS to match with Pedroia and the slugger they have been seeking, while getting something back for Beckett. No ones payroll would skyrocket. Slight salary dump for the Padres. It almost makes too much sense…
Short of signing Bay (who’s contract it seems is almost expected to be seen as one of the worst in baseball on the back end) the Mets have had a very disappointing off-season. At least that’s my take after speaking with many Mets fans from Jersey to Downtown Manhattan. Everyone has their opinions on what the Mets shoulda, woulda and coulda done, and on where they should go from here. So what are some of the changes that the Mets desperately need to happen to contend in 2010? Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Beltran MUST be healthy by May. This is the most important factor for the Mets, as behind Johan, there isn’t much as far as the numbers and predictions are concerned on the pitching staff. Niese is looking like he could be the second best option on the team. The Mets are going to need to hit, and hit a lot. The number 3 hitter is an important part of that.
2. Jason Bay must be the force he was in Boston, and then some. Bay needs to prove to everyone (including me) that he can hit the longball in the unfriendly confines of Citifield. This to me is the second most important factor.
3. David Wright needs to “rebound”. While many critique last year for the young slugger, I still think he did well. His swing is nice and smooth. I’d be much more concerned if his average dropped than his power. Wright has always struck me as a line drive hitter, that gets it out of the park more often then his swing really should. However, 10 homers just isn’t going to cut it if the Mets are to contend. If you see the Mets doing well, and you look at Wright’s stats, they will be .300/.400/.500 or better with 25 homers and 110 RBI’s.
4. John Maine… We keep seeing flashes of what this guy can do, and then all of a sudden, injuries and other factors seem to make it all come undone at the worst times. He needs to stay healthy and effective. To me, this would be a very key factor.
5. Russell Branyan. The Mets need some pop, Branyan will be looking for some extra money from someone who truly needs him, and the Mets fit that mold. He hit 31 homers at Safeco Field, so there’s no reason to think he won’t at least come close to that at Citifield. Either way, he’s better than Delgado and Murphy.
6. This is only 6, because I think its both a given that it needs to happen, and unlikely to actually happen. Oliver Perez has some of the best pure stuff in baseball. He stands right up there with Josh Beckett and Matt Garza. While Garza moves on, understands and works on the mental aspect of pitching, Ollie is trying to get by on pure firepower. Until he can stay mentally with it, nothing is going to happen for him that’s positive. However, living up to his contract (and potential) would most certainly put the Mets in a much more favorable position. As I said, this is by far the most important factor, but its listed late because the mental aspect has escaped Ollie for so long, I’m not sure he can turn it around just like that. The other 5 are much more likely options.
7. John Smolts or Pedro Martinez. There are many questions surrounding the health and effectiveness of the Mets pitching staff, and personally I don’t think it’d be a bad idea to sign both these guys. Both were very effective in the NL in the second half of last year, and both know the NL East very well, and have responded well to it.
8. Fernando Martinez must get it together. In Beltrans absence, Martinez is going to get quite a few starts in CF. He needs to respond and produce as he’s expected to. A little pop, a .280 average, and plus defense in the outfield would be a very nice and welcome player for the Mets. Martinez’s ceiling is much higher than Francour or Pagan’s and he needs to be nurtured well this year, something the Mets have not done well with their talent in recent years.
With all the talk of what will go on with Josh Beckett, Victor Martinez’s importance to the Red Sox success has been highly overlooked. Martinez came to Boston and has done exactly what the Sox brought him over to do, and then some. Not only has he continued his reputation for being a powerhouse and great contact hitter, he has also played a much better backstop for the Red Sox than he did in Cleveland. If Beckett walks (or gets moved), we can fill in the holes within our system in 2011. Tazawa and Bowden are both pretty much ready to pitch right now at the Major League level and just need a little development period. If V-Mart walks, short of signing Joe Mauer, the Red Sox will have problems at catcher until 2012-2013 when Luis Exposito is expected to be ready to take over catching duties long-term. Even that however, is far from a sure thing. The other option, is after a year worth of playing backup, the captain Jason Varitek could come back as the starting catcher, but that puts a big hole in the Sox lineup as the numbers these 2 provide offensively can’t even be compared. Varitek also doesn’t have the versatility to play 1B when Youkilis needs a day off, and the Sox will likely no longer have Ortiz, Beltre or Lowell either, causing this depth of 2010 to thin very quickly.
So what do you do if you are Theo Epstein? If you ask me, an extension for V-Mart is an essential start, even before addressing the Beckett situation. I think 4/$55-65MM should both get the job done, as well as not hurt the team financially should V-Mart become a DH, and Exposito be ready. Also should V-Mart become injury prone, he would have an immediate and cheap replacement. However, the occasional day at first and having Varitek to step in should keep Martinez healthy enough to catch another few years. Feel free to leave your thoughts.
The rumors surrounding Josh Beckett have grown indeed since the signing of Lackey. Speculation is all over the place, and John Tomase of the Boston Herald did a good job of taking this ugly flock of rumors and straightening them out for us.
Beckett seemed like the sure future ace of the Red Sox and if you asked me in 2007 or 2008 what kind of contract offer he would initially see from Boston, I would have told you something along the lines of 5/$90MM or 6/$105. Now, regardless of what Theo has told Josh and my personal feelings aside, I’d be shocked to see Beckett receive an offer from Boston any higher than the Lackey deal. Like Bay, Beckett will also be prompted about an injury clause. The Sox are one of few teams who have had success with such clauses without hindering their ability to sign top of the line free agents. Drew signed a clause allowing the Sox to opt out of his contract if pre-existing conditions caused him to miss significant time. Lackey signed a contract to pitch for the league minimum in 2015 should he require surgery or serious time off due to pre-existing conditions. Given the Sox great track record of taking care of their arms and having enough depth to justify doing so, this has not scared off pitchers like Lackey. Beckett however, doesn’t have many pre-existing conditions that would cause him to miss serious time, and he hasn’t. He has averaged 28-30 starts in the past few years, and even when struggling he seems to be able to get the Sox through 6-7 innings, which is a lot easier said than done when you are a flamethrower like Beckett.
Out of respect for what this guy has done for Boston, they will put the same offer as Lackey on the table for Beckett. However, I’m not sure this is the right decision for Boston regardless. Beckett remains my favorite pitcher who is a current player, and it hurts to say this, but you can’t justify locking up a guy long-term who has struggled in the second half of recent years because he’s pitching hurt or in discomfort. I would much rather offer higher dollars (say $20MM a year) for less years. Perhaps something like Sabathia’s’ first 3 years of his contract. 3/$63 would be a great starting point in my eyes and would save the Sox some money long-term should Beckett not stay healthy. If he walks, the emergence of Jon Lester, the signing of John Lackey, the talent of Clay Buchholz, the hopeful and seemingly imminent resurgence of Dice-K Matsuzaka, and the hopeful breed that’s set to come up in 2011 and 2012 including Junichi Tazawa, Michael Bowden, and Casey Kelly should be enough to keep the Sox among baseball’s top pitching teams. If they feel unstable, workhorse and Cy Young winner Cliff Lee is destined to hit the market as he did not seem like he is going to sign an extension with the M’s considering he turned down an extension from Philly. I know Lee has said he wanted to stay in Philly, but he sure didn’t show it. I think he was a bit insulted (perhaps rightfully so) with the way the situation was handled, but that’s the business side of baseball. The Sox are known to have interest in Lee as well, making this fit even better.
Tomase goes over all of this in his article, but he also adds new speculation. Would the Red Sox consider trading Beckett if an extension is not reached by the All-Star break. Either trading Beckett for a bat to a team like the Tigers, that are looking for the second part of the 1-2 punch that wins playoff games, or for prospects, which can be turned for a big bat from another team. Given Beckett’s love for Boston, this would be a very bitter pill to swallow.
However, I agree with Tomase. Can the Sox afford to give patience with Beckett this off-season and work out a contract with so many high profile free agents that will hit the market? Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez are some other important attractions that will be available. Trading Beckett opens the Sox options up this off-season, and would give some big game opportunities to guys like Dice-K and Buchholz, not to mention they would have no trouble finding a team that would take on the 29 year old who has 2 rings with 2 different teams. I think most of this will be told by how things work out with the first half of this season. If the Sox are serious World Series contenders, I do see the other side of the argument that says, “Are you crazy? We will need Beckett in October!” It is an interesting and very well thought out proposal though, that would spare much of Boston’s young talent from being casualties of a big bat trade mid-season.