Just a few days
ago I shared a column -- “Who’s
on first? The 2013 Boston Red Sox” – which,
honestly, was nothing more than a way of saying: “Wow! By the
time spring training arrives and Boston has settled all of their
contracts, they’re going to have a payroll over $170 million!”
more to the point… look at their roster right now, consider yourself
running a ball club, and count the number of players you would
sign for more than $10 million per season.
-- even as I ask that question -- I get the skepticism you may
all -- just look -- they have Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia.
Those are game-changers and dirty-uniform-wearers and next-free-agent-big-contract
kind of names right there. Or -- pitching, you want to remind
me, you have to pay for pitching -- and they needed a Ryan Dempster
and have what might be a bargain contract from Clay Buchholz and
-- I get it. I see what you mean. And, as I’ll mention in a moment,
it’s actually not that bad an observation to have considering
that Boston is quite possibly in the unenviable position of needing
to overpay to get a signature from a free agent.
California Angels will not be paying Mike Trout $10 million in
Strasburg won’t cost over $10 million in 2013 for the Washington
Nationals, and neither will Bryce Harper.
short… not all the people that should be getting paid well are
getting paid well right now… the same concept holds true that
some people are getting paid way above what they deserve. Supply
and demand… rules of the baseball payroll game… sign for what
you can get.
my question was meant a bit tongue-in-cheek. It was a concept,
not intended to look for specific examples. Because I believe
that if you pay a player more than $10 million per season, that
player should be a part of your regular lineup.
Napoli? For $13 million per? Ok, forget the medical problems and
other why-not-signed-yet subjects. We can keep it simple. If that’s
what you are paying Napoli to play first base, I’ll shrug my shoulders
and say ok. But every article I’ve seen talks about how he’ll
be catching as well. Not emergency scenario, we’ve got no alternatives,
break out his gear from the locked box in the clubhouse catching.
Actual starting lineup on multiple days get him deeply exposed
to the staff during spring training catching. And I’ll be darned
if I’m going to see the value of paying him $13 million, primarily
to be the solution to an opening at first base, when he’s likely
to be at first for less than 75% of the season.
Victorino? Wow. Let me ask you something… Ichiro Suzuki will play
2013 for $6.5 million on a two-year deal for $13 million total.
How does $13 million in 2013 and $39 million over three years
for Victorino sound compared to that?
are things all bad in Boston? Let’s find out, with a no-one-asked-me-this-but-let’s-try-it-anyway
question and answer follow up to that essay of mine.
things all doom and gloom?
But it’s not bright sunshine with butterflies, lollipops and rainbows.
the AL East alone, even if you don’t think Toronto is “better”
than Boston right now, you have to admit they look very interesting.
Baltimore may not repeat the amazing 90-plus wins of 2012, but
they were playing in the postseason last year. In my mind, those
two teams are Boston’s challengers for third place in the division.
You know… from third place to the basement.
the Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis to basically play third base
and shortstop. (That’s a little joke there. Just means that New
York has injuries to contend with for the acknowledged leaders
at those positions.) 2013 might not be cruise control to the playoffs
for New York, but they still deserve credit as a division leader
heading into camp.
Bay is good… a threat to take the division outright, if not just
a playoff spot… but once again, the organization cannot afford
the balance of power is shifting in the American League. For the
first time in years, I think you could quickly and, without much
thought, successfully defend the idea that the top three clubs
are all outside the AL East -- meaning that at least Detroit,
Texas and California are all better teams.
do you call the team the California Angels? That’s not the name.
it is. At least to me.
always were the California Angels while I was growing up. Then
they changed it… and I accepted it… to the Anaheim Angels.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? It’s just ridiculous. (And yes,
I am aware of the Los Angeles history and how the team began.
Just pick a name though… pick a place. For this name, they could
just as easily go with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim near Nevada
vicinity of Mexico. The inclusion of Anaheim, I believe, is nothing
more than a contractual obligation because the city of Anaheim
helped pay for the ballpark renovations.)
looks good for Boston right now?
I do like the bullpen.
Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa form a
pretty nice base for their staff of relievers.
don’t need to tell you that relief pitching is notoriously unpredictable
and shaky… but I do want to mention reliability before adding
these names… hey look, it’s Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard.
to that some other names and a couple of guys that could be out
when the rotation is settled or good enough to not get sent to
Pawtucket… Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, and Craig Breslow.
I think you could get three very solid guys as your eighth and
ninth inning options, plus the pen can go deep to four or five
reliable players. The bullpen looks like it might just be Boston’s
true strength. (Time will tell.)
about the other pitching?
stay with me.
say we’re happy with Hanrahan closing, plus in some way you get
terrific years from Bard, Bailey, Tazawa and Uehara. (Or a terrific
year from Hanrahan and even just happy years from the others.)
above average bullpen brings this to a point where Boston starters
need to get through six innings, and possibly into the seventh.
It’s an “if” that this happens. But not a truly impossible or
not-a-chance possibility. (Say, like Ortiz playing 40-games at
first base when Napoli isn’t. That’s an “if” that’s not happening,
so no one even mentions it.)
not impressed with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Ryan
Dempster and Felix Doubront if you believe you need them to pitch
complete games or compete for a Cy Young Award. (Lester made 33
starts last year and pitched 205 innings… just over 6 a game.
Buchholz… 29 starts… 189 innings… closer to 7 per. Doubront… 29…
161… less than 6 per. You need a bullpen for these guys.)
I do believe that all of those guys could potentially give you
decent seasons. (There’s that idea again -- decent. Get this…)
year, Lester started 33 games… Buchholz 29 games… Doubront 29….
Becket (yes, Beckett) 21… Aaron Cook 18 (come on, Aaron Cook got
18 starts). That’s 130 starts from the five that made the most
trips to the mound to begin a game for the Red Sox. Buccholz had
the lowest ERA of the group with a stellar I-wish-I-was-making-this-up
not-too-much deeper and you’ll see that this staff was just awful.)
we get closer to 140 combined starts and everyone’s ERA closer
to 4 than 5 (or 6)? Yeah. I think you can.
that’s your solution? Better pitching?
yeah. Did you watch any of the games in 2012? Because that was
kind of a big problem. Gasoline-on-the-fire-ugly problem.
about the rest of the team? What do you think about that?
I don’t love the roster, but I don’t hate it.
mentioned Victorino a minute ago. He’s fine. They overpaid. Probably
by a lot. But guess what? The Boston Red Sox right now are light
years away from the New England Patriots. Players aren’t taking
a discount to come to the Red Sox for the atmosphere and winning
ways. (They’re coming for the dollars and the idea that, unlike
the Florida Marlins, you aren’t likely to dump them as a business
concerned by Ellsbury and Will Middlebrooks. I admit it… I’m thinking
too much and probably overly so… but both scare me as injury worries.
think I’d be happier if Ryan Kalish seemed to have more of a regular
clean and simple… an infield of Napoli, Pedroia, Middlebrooks
and Stephen Drew is ok… a batting order that looks something like
Ellsbury-Pedroia-Ortiz-Middlebrooks-Napoli is fine.
you know… I’m not that opposed to forcing Jose Iglesias to prove
something. Same idea with having three catchers (Jarrod Saltalamacchia,
Ryan Lavarnway, and David Ross). Do something. Earn a spot. (Trout
and Harper did.)
why did you make fun of their payroll?
I ask you… if you had to buy a team jersey right now, and wear
it in 2015… what player would it represent?
guess I just find it staggeringly amazing that for the amount
of money they already have invested… again, more than the Angels
have locked up in 2013 salary to begin the year… the Red Sox have
no clear identity. That bothers me a bit. It makes me wonder…
it doesn’t have me thinking postseason.
Do you have any specific concerns?
hate saying this… David Ortiz worries me, but not in any way that
I can defend.
over his history and you’ll see that he’s quite likely to hit
more than 30 home runs and get on base at a rate that’s good enough.
again though. Because he’s the reliable bat in your lineup.
Pedroia has carried the team before. And this is a batting order
more likely to win in a different way with a different contributor
from night to night.
point is, I don’t believe there are any professional hitters in
this lineup. (There. I said it.)
think good to great pitching from the opposition is going to stop
the Red Sox without really breaking much of a sweat. And that
you’re predicting disaster?
was a disaster. 2011 was a disaster. The team turned into a joke.
The brand is damaged goods.
don’t think fighting for a winning record would be a disaster,
and this team could fight and clear 80-wins.