Saturday, November 03, 2007


This picture has nothing to do with this post. I just thought it was awesome. That is all.

Some notes on a few Red Sox-related off-season happenings:

1. The Red Sox picked up the player options on two pitchers, one expected and the other, well... not so much. Predictably, the Sox picked up the $4M player option on Tim Wakefield. At that price it almost doesn't matter what Wakefield's role will be in the '08 team. He can relieve, start, or both, but the Sox don't have to make any decisions now. They can sort it out later depending on how the rest of the off-season plays out.

More unexpectedly, the Sox picked up His Craziness, Julian Tavarez's '08 option, which cost them $3.85M. I'm not sure where Tavarez fits in on the '08 squad, possibly as an innings-eater out of the pen. I imagine that the Sox feel that they can easily move him either during the off season or spring training if it turns out that there is no place for him.

2. Pitching coach John Farrell has turned down the opportunity to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates (or at least to interview for the job, which he likely would have gotten). What a surprise. Still, this should be great news for any Red Sox fan. Farrell did a very impressive job this season with Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon, and Daisuke Matsuzaka and I'm very much looking forward to seeing him work with Clay Buchholz next season.


In the coming weeks the Sox will have to make offers to free agents Mike Lowell, Curt Schilling, Doug Mirabelli, Brendan Donnelly, Eric Hinske, and Mike Timlin. I wouldn't be surprised if the Sox brought back half that group or more. Here's a quick run-down on each:

Doug Mirabelli: With the re-upping of Tim Wakefield, Dougie's return becomes more likely. The fact that there really aren't any other great options out there (the list of free-agent back-up catchers reads like a who's-who of players you don't want on your team) makes this an even easier decision. Unless the Sox can convince some decent catcher to come to a World Series winner to play backup, the devil you know beats the devil you don't.

Eric Hinske: Despite playing on a World Series winner this season, Hinske's career has been on a downward trajectory ever since winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. To put it bluntly, Hinkse was awful this season, hitting a is-this-guy-done-? .204/.317/.398. If the Sox think that Hinske can better approximate his career .255/.336/.434 line he might be worth having on the bench again. If not, better to move on. There are other guys who can play multiple positions and won't hit like Mario Mendoza.

Mike Timlin: Timlin was surprisingly effective in 55 innings this season. He wasn't great, but for a 41 year old he was pretty decent. Of course, hitters don't grade on a curve, and theres a good chance that the Sox just wrung the last bit of effectiveness out of this stone. Whether or not the Sox bring him back will have a lot to do with who they see in their bullpen next season. If Craig Hansen is legitimately prepared to pitch in the big leagues and the Sox are actually intent on Julian Tavarez taking up some innings out of the pen, Timlin may have to take his fatigues elsewhere.

Brenden Donnelly: It depends on what the market is for Donnelly... which is a stupid thing to write, because its true of every free agent in the game. Anyway, if Donnelly will be happy with an invite to spring training then I'm all for it. Otherwise, it might be best to cut bait while the cut'n is cheap.

Curt Schilling: As much as I'd like this to happen, I think its unlikely. $13M is a lot to pay an old injury-prone fastball pitcher who's lost his fastball. Conversely, Schilling has shown that he can still get major league hitters out, and what is $13M to the Red Sox? If there has ever been a pitcher that the Sox have owed, even after his time with the team was up, Curt is it. Not that an '08 contract will be charity. With the Sox depending on so much young pitching going into '08 its not a bad idea to have Ol' Schil around for one more season.

Mike Lowell: This gets complicated real fast. With Kevin Youkilis able to play either first or third, the Red Sox have some maneuverability, at least in theory. They can go after a first baseman or a third baseman and simply move Youk to which ever position remains unoccupied. But, after Lowell (and A-Rod) there really aren't any good corner infielders to be had on the market. This means that either the Sox sign one of those two guys (and be stuck with them for the long term, or in A-Rod's case the next millennium) or they wait a year and try break the bank on Mark Teixeira like every other team in baseball.

Their other (Third? Fourth? Seventh?) option is to make some sort of trade. Rumor says Miguel Cabrera is available, but you can expect the bidding to start at Clay Buchholz and escalate from there. Is that a good deal to make? Maybe, but its definitely something the Sox should look into. More on this possibility later.

The easiest thing would be to see if a deal can be struck in the three year range Lowell. If not, the Sox need to start looking at other possibilities, like Cabrera, and like A-Rod. Maybe Hank Blaylock can be acquired. Maybe Adrian Beltre can be pried loose. If Lowell opts to go elsewhere, the Red Sox have many options, but many of them will involve some major maneuvering. The road of least resistance is to resign Lowell, and for a team that just won the World Series (have I referenced that enough?) that just might be the right path to go down.


Soon, part II of my 2007 Red Sox retrospective. Stay tuned!

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