Sunday, December 30, 2007
Its a big week for us Redskins fans. Its Dallas Week. And its not any old Dallas Week, its win-and-we're-in-the-playoffs Dallas Week. I'm pretty much going to jump about and scream like a monkey for three plus hours. I hope everyone else's Sunday is equally enjoyable.
Lets go Skins!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
You don't need any numbers to know that adding Santana puts the Red Sox in the drivers seat not only in their division but in the American League. Pairing Santana with Beckett could be a deadly combination in the regular season and especially in the post season for years to come. But, at what price, and what would the extracted players do to the Red Sox going forward?
Funny you should ask. Many different sources seem to think that there will be movement on a potential Johan Santana trade in the next few weeks. Of course, we've been hearing that for the past month or more, but if things are going to heat up soon, it makes sense to take a look at potential deals now, from a Red Sox perspective, and see what affect the different proposed deals would have on the old towne team.
Rather than examine potential packages, I'm going to take a look at the players who could be given up in trade, see where they fit into the Red Sox picture in the next few years, and what the cost of giving them up is likely to be.
Jon Lester - Lester projects somewhere between a #1 and a #3, and as a young cost-controlled left-hander who throws hard, he is a very valuable commodity. But the 2008 Red Sox rotation is full with Matsuzaka, Beckett, Schilling, Buchholz, and Wakefield all on the roster, so despite the fact that Lester started Game 4 of the World Series, there may not be a spot in the rotation for him come spring time. He may still need some seasoning anyway, as his control tends to vanish from time to time. Its conceivable that both Schilling and Wakefield will leave Boston after this season which would open two slots in the rotation, one of which would likely go to Lester. Lester's value to the Red Sox in 2007 is likely that of an injury replacement, but he won't be used to his highest and best value until 2008.
Still, with Santana in hand and signed for about five or six years, the Red Sox would be replacing a potentially good left hander with the dominant left hander in the majors. The difference, besides the quality of the pitchers, is the cost. While Lester, if he progresses could be had for likely under $20M cumulatively over the next six seasons, Santana is likely to cost six to seven times that figure. Is the potential difference in quality worth the exorbitant cost?
Jacoby Ellsbury - Ellsbury is the next great Red Sox center fielder. He cemented himself as a fan favorite with his performance in the playoffs and World Series when he replaced the ever-struggling Coco Crisp, and hit close to .500 in the process. Still, for all the love thrown his way, Ellsbury is not without his flaws. He could be more selective at the plate, and until he shows more power his ceiling is limited.
All that doesn't mean he isn't a very valuable player. His speed makes him among the fastest players in the majors right now, and nobody questions the quality of his defense in center field. If he's able to add some power to his game he could be a perennial all-star, but even if he isn't, he could still be an above average player both at the plate and in the field.
Losing Ellsbury would mean that the Sox would be stuck using Crisp in center again next season (more on him in a moment). It would also mean that the Sox would eventually have to either develop another center fielder in a few years (Ryan Kalish?), or if nothing materializes on that front, go out and pay for one on the free agent market. Center fielders who can hit aren't cheap. Plainly put, losing Ellsbury would weaken the club at the plate in 2008. In 2009 the scenario would be the same (Crisp=little offense) or it would require the Sox to go shopping and spend (a lot) more money.
Coco Crisp - Since coming over from Cleveland, Crisp has both improved and declined. When he arrived many questioned his defensive abilities, while many, including myself, thought that he could at least continue developing into a productive hitter along the lines of Johnny Damon. Crisp has put his defensive doubters to sleep with stellar work in center field, but at the same time his offense has fallen off a cliff. Instead of building on his production in Cleveland, his offense has steadily declined to the point where he lost his starting job to a a rookie (Ellsbury) in the middle of the playoffs.
Including Crisp in a Santana trade would be ideal as it would open up center field even more for Ellsbury, and it would allow Crisp, a classy guy who I've enjoyed rooting for, to start for a potential contender going forward. Even better, trading Crisp would not have much of a negative impact on the 2008 or subsequent clubs, as his position would be filled cheaply by Ellsbury who should have little problem replicating Crisp's production both offensively and defensively.
Jed Lowrie - As a first round pick, the Red Sox have invested some time and money into Lowrie's development, and last season was the first where he began to show what the Sox saw in him when he was drafted. Lowrie is very much like current Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia in that both get on base very well, play a decent second base, and are slightly challenged to play a major league quality shortstop. If the Sox could put either at shortstop, they'd likely do so, but as Pedroia has already established himself as one of the better young second basemen in the game, there is little place for Lowrie to stick in Boston. Even if Lowrie could play shortstop adequately, the Sox would have to move Julio Lugo, and doing that may be more difficult than convincing the President about global warming.
But that doesn't mean Lowrie won't be a good major league player going forward. If he can continue what he started this past season, the Red Sox could be trading away an all-star caliber player. However, Lowrie comes with a caveat, which is that last season was his first of above average offensive production. If he isn't able to replicate his 2007 season going forward then he won't be worth much either in trade or in Boston. Trading Lowrie now could be selling high on him on a mediocre player, or it could be trading a young cornerstone infielder. The question is, which is it?
Justin Masterson - I won't pretend I know much about Masterson. He is apparently likely to make the big leagues as a reliever in the Mike Timlin mold, i.e. a sinking fastball guy who gets strikeouts and groundballs, though I believe he has been starting thus far in the minors. If that is what he turns into he will be a valuable commodity, but he's not there yet. Masterson will start the year in AA Portland, so he's far from a proven major leaguer now. He is a nice guy to have in the system, but he isn't anyone who should prevent the Red Sox from acquiring Johan Santana.
So that's it. I really like Jed Lowrie as a player but the Sox won't really have a space for him to play every day any time soon. Lester is similar in that if Santana is coming the other way his loss is more than smoothed over, though there are some who think that Lester could be 75% of Santana for 20% of the cost. Like Lester, Ellsbury is someone who the fans have grown attached to. Losing him has the greatest impact on the 2008 team of any of the potential players going to Minnesota. Masterson is a nice player to have, but isn't anything to worry about giving up.
There are a million things to consider when making a trade like this, and I won't pretend to have the answers, but I will echo Seth Mnookin who said that he enjoys rooting for 'his guys' meaning players who have come up as Red Sox. I agree with that sentiment. Emotionally, I like the guys the Red Sox have now and I think we can win the World Series again next season without trading for Santana, even if he ends up with the Yankees. However, this is a potentiall Hall-of-Famer in the prime of his career that we're talking about, so its no small thing to acquire a guy like this. Just think of what it will do to the Yankees if Santana comes to Boston. Theres a thought to fall asleep to, huh?
Overall, it could go either way. I'm just glad that this isn't a decision I have to make.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Its such a let down after Christmas is over. Not because I love Christmas, though I do enjoy the lights, but because the end of Christmas season leaves behind simply the cold and dark of winter. Three more months of cold, and if we're lucky, a bit of snow will set the scene.
Then one cold winter day, a couple trucks push through the snow and arrive outside Fenway Park. There they'll be packed to the gills and they'll hit the road heading south for Fort Myers, Florida.
Spring Training will poke a few notes of warmth through our cold winter. Images of the players stretching and long tossing in short sleeves with palm trees in the back ground will be published in the paper and broadcast on the news. Those of us lucky enough will take a few days off work and relive our childhood watching a few games that don't matter under the sun. We'll reappear at work the following week sporting a sunburn and a unmovable grin.
That's what I'm living for now. Truck day, the beginning of Spring Training, and the start to another great season of Red Sox baseball.
Happy Holidays to you all, and remember, Spring Training is just fifty days away. Stay warm!
Friday, December 21, 2007
I've been working at a new job, and as I wrote before its an hour away from home which means 2 hours are spent commenting every day. That is time that I would normally be devoting, at least in part, to FPE. But thems the breaks, right? Maintain your dumb baseball blog or accept a good job.... hmmm... (still thinking)...
Nothing to Report
The other reason I haven't posted too much recently is that there hasn't been a whole lot to post about. Sure there have been rumors up the wazoo, but not much concrete has happened. Ellsbury and Lester are still Red Sox, Francona is still going into the last year of his deal, and A-Rod is still a Yankee, despite Scott Boras's best attempts.
The Santana situation may heat up again sometime in the near future, but nothing seems to be going on now. Many people seem to think that the Twins won't go into the '08 season with Santana on their team simply because that could limit what they get in trade for him. Personally, I don't see the harm in it. If they don't get the value in trade that equals 1 year of Santana, negotiating rights, and two first round draft picks then they'd be stupid to deal him. Truth be told, they may be stupid to deal him anyway, but at least they could justify it.
Hank Steinbrenner Is An Idiot
In other news, Hank Steinbrenner is an idiot. The apple didn't fall far from the tree with this one. A while back I wrote that when George is gone I'm going to miss him - not because I like him, but because he's so easy to dislike. But now that his idiot son is attempting to bring back the gory days of the 70's (yes, gory) with his buffoonery, I'm less likely to miss the original. Still, this has the ability to be fun for Red Sox fans, and in truth, really any non-Yankees fan. Steinbrenner may be an idiot, but it seems his brand of idiocy is at least an entertaining one.
2007 Red Sox World Series DVD Mini-Review
In still other news, I finally received my 2007 Red Sox World Series DVD box set. Its great to have and I've enjoyed watching it, except for one thing: the games are edited. The 2004 Red Sox World Series DVD box set contains the unedited broadcasts of each ALCS and World Series game. No commercials, but other than that its exactly as if you were watching it on TV. The 2007 version is different. Someone at MLB must have decided that the games were too long, so their solution was to cut out some 'unimportant' parts in between at-bats.
This may save some time, but the effect is jarring. One minute you'll see Lugo pop up to shortstop, and the very next second Pedroia is standing in the batters box about to face his first pitch. It destroys the continuity, and makes following the announcers trains of thought very difficult in spots. No comments on Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, but its actually even more difficult to follow what they are saying when one of these 'edits' takes place.
Other than that, watching each game in its (mostly) entirety is a lot of fun. All the stress is removed because you know the Sox are going to win (and isn't that a great feeling?) so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the baseball. Its a great buy and I recommend it for any true Red Sox fan's DVD library.
As for my off-season plans, I am planning on finishing my 2007 retrospective, I'll be taking a look at the Red Sox off season and checking on their potential for 2008. I'll be posting these during the off season.
In any case, a happy holidays to you all. Check back periodically for more fabulousness, and as always, thanks for reading.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
It’s December, so that means one thing: Christmas. Oh, and the Red Sox and Yankees are in heated competition for a player. So, fine, two things.
This time it’s Johan Santana who is the apple of the team’s collective eye. As the consensus best starting pitcher in baseball, Santana should be a no-brainer for the Twins to resign. If he wants to, he should be able to spend the rest of his career as a Twin.
But the ever-cheap Twins, owned by the richest man in Major League Baseball (no, not Alex Rodriguez), Carl Pohlad, are again looking to pass the dinner check to one of baseball’s big spenders when it comes time to pay up. Why a team with good attendance, tons of up-and-coming talent, and a great young core of players is looking to trade away their best player in the prime of his career is, sadly, rather simple. As a two-time Cy Young winner (should be three), Santana won’t settle for a hometown discount. Minimally, it will take about 5 years at $20 Million per year to sign Santana, but likely the price will be a good bit above that. I’ve heard as high as 5 years, $150 Million, but who knows.
Simply put, the Twins are too cheap to reward their best player with something close to his worth on the open market. So rather than wait for him to play out his contract (he’s a free agent after the ’08 season) they’re going to trade him. But they’re going to have to trade him to a team that can, 1) afford to extend his contract at market value, and 2) afford to give the Twins what they want in terms of prospects in return. That’s a massive undertaking, which is why the bidding is down to the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Angels, Mets, and Dodgers all have the money too, but are reportedly either pursuing other options (read: Miguel Cabrera) or don’t have the prospects to compete.
The Red Sox could get this deal done now if they really wanted to gut their farm system. The Twins seem to like the Red Sox prospects better than NY’s. But, fortunately, the Sox are holding off. The Yankees, drool dripping down their pock-marked twins, are having trouble not throwing everything in the pot, and may just hand
Answering the essential question, “Should the Red Sox trade a significant portion of their farm for Santana and then give him a huge contract?” is problematic. It is so because, despite published reports, it’s impossible to know exactly what the teams are offering for Santana, and what type of contract Santana would demand upon a trade.
Are Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden, and Jon Lester and $150 Million too much to trade for six years of Johan Santana? Before answering, ask yourself how Santana would look as the Sox number two pitcher behind Josh Beckett and in front of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Curt Schilling, and Clay Buchholz.
But before answering that, answer this: how much better will Santana be than Jon Lester over the next six years? Undoubtedly Santana will out-pitch Lester, but by how much? Is the difference equivalent to the worth of Lowrie, Bowden, Crisp, plus the difference in their salaries over that period (we’ll say about $140M)?
It’s a tough decision to make. Jacoby Ellsbury makes Crisp expendable, and Bowden is good but has yet to pitch above AA ball. The road to stardom is littered with pitchers like him. (This isn’t to say that he won’t turn into a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher, but we have no way of knowing that now.) Lowrie looks like a good major leaguer who can play an adequate middle infield position. In other words, he looks like a valuable player, but unless the Sox can trade Julio Lugo and his ridiculous contract (signs point to ‘No’), and/or the Sox are going to trade Dustin Pedroia there doesn’t look to be much room for him.
The difference between Lester over the next six years and Santana over the next six years could be sizable, but it’s probably not worth the money plus the potential of the other players involved. Plus, Lester doesn’t figure to be a bad pitcher going forward. If he can get his control in hand a bit, he could be a legitimate #2 guy, and for a whole lot less money.
The Yankees on the other hand, now run by ‘70’s era George Steinbrenner buffoon/baboon Hank Steinbrenner, who shoots his mouth off to the press as if he’s trying to surpass his father’s former bluster, might just trade the farm. In fact, if Joba Chamberlain hadn’t come up and pitched in the majors last season, you might be hearing about how the Yankees would trade anyone under their control for Santana. They may yet do that anyway.
Personally, I say let NY have him. He’s a great pitcher, but I don’t think even he is worth the haul that
And then let them finish second again.