Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Be Red Sox Nation's Valentine?

After a long, excruciating process, the Red Sox have finally hired their next manager-- former Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine. He has been a decent manager in his time, compiling a .510 winning percentage. He definitely has far more experience than any other candidate the Red Sox had, managing about 15 years. Another thing Valentine has is charisma, and a definite personality. He has worked as an analyst on ESPN the past few years, which is pretty much the only thing I've seen him on being a fairly young baseball fan. However, I heard a story that cracks me up about Valentine. I hear that in one Mets game, he was ejected, but he came back into the dugout with a fake mustache on. A loose personality like that would definitely help this stuffy clubhouse full of "beer and chicken." I don't know enough about Valentine to make a definite decision, but I'm glad this whole ordeal is over.

Red Sox Re-Sign Minor Leaguer Tony Pena Jr.

I am a bit frustrated by the Red Sox moves this offseason, or lack thereof, so I've begun to just report every little detail I get. So, here's the next little detail-- the Red Sox have re-signed Tony Pena Jr. Pena pitched for the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox the whole year in 2011 in his 2nd full year of pitching after being a shortstop for his previous career. He was actually quite effective, going 9-6/3.56/65 in 33 games, 14 of which were starts. Pena is a guy who I'm surprised the Red Sox didn't call up during the September '11 collapse. I think he's a guy who probably could have started a few games here and there instead of Tim Wakefield, John Lackey, and Kyle Weiland. The Red Sox signed him to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training which includes an additional $650,000 if he makes the major league team out of Spring Training. I'm all for Pena sticking around and possibly making an impact in 2012.

Red Sox Show Interest In Broxton

Update: Nevermind, he signed with the Royals.

Reports have surfaced that the Red Sox may be looking into possibilities for free agent closer Jonathan Broxton. Broxton will likely come for a cheap price, as he was injured and ineffective for much of 2011. He finished 1-2/5.68/10, saving 7/8 chances in 12 games and 10 innings. The fireballer had surgery on his throwing elbow in 2011, but if healthy would likely be a good pitcher. He has shown that he can be effective consistently after going 5-6/4.04/73 and saving 22/29 chances in 64 games. In 2009, he was even better, going 7-2/2.61/114 and saving 36/42 chances in 73 games. I would certainly not mind signing Broxton for bullpen depth, but he looks a lot like Bobby Jenks to me and I would not trust him in the closer role. Like Jenks, he is a closer who has been injured and declined over the past few years. He would probably be available to a 1 year/$2.5 million contract. As I said, I would like Broxton to compete for a bullpen job, but nothing more.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Red Sox Check Into Wandy Rodriguez

The Red Sox search for good pitching through trades continues as reports have indicated that they have contacted the Astros about lefty Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez completed his fourth straight season with an ERA under 4.00, going 11-11/3.49/166 in 191 innings and 30 starts. Rodriguez is the only remotely good player in the Astros system, so it would probably take quite a bit of prying to get him. He would probably be just under what Gio Gonzalez would demand from the A's. The Astros would probably part with him for a package around Will Middlebrooks and/or Bryce Brentz, quite similar to Gio Gonzalez. Rodriguez would be a guy who would probably fit in as the #3 or 4 starter in the Red Sox rotation and would make one of the most formidable rotations in baseball when healthy. Just like Gio Gonzalez, I would be thrilled if the Red Sox could acquire Rodriguez; but only for a certain price.

Conor Says... Sign Francisco Cordero

With Jonathan Papelbon having left for the Phillies, the Red Sox are without a proven closer in his position. That is why I think the Red Sox should go after Francisco Cordero, a free agent closer who pitched for the Reds in 2011. Cordero is coming off a fantastic season in 2011, in which he went 5-3/2.45/42 as well as saving 37/43 opportunities. Cordero certainly has had some experience pitching in tough ballparks for a pitcher, as he has pitched in Great American Ballpark, Miller Park, and Rangers Ballpark-- three major hitting parks. Also, he would likely come cheap as he will be 37 at the beginning of 2011 and there is a fairly good market for closers out there with Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, and Matt Capps. I think he would be signable for 2 years/$16 million-- and for a guy who may even be better than Papelbon. I don't really expect the Red Sox to do this, I expect them to stick with Bard, but if they were to make a move-- it should be for Francisco Cordero.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Red Sox Interested In Luis Ayala

Reports have surfaced that the Red Sox may be interested in free agent reliever Luis Ayala. Ayala had a magnificent season out of the 'pen for the Yankees in 2011, going 2-2/2.09/39 in 52 games and 56 innings. The Rays have also looked into Ayala, and I'm sure that after that season, the Yankees would be very happy to have him back. In that case, he would not be an easy sign and probably would want a guaranteed spot on a major league team's roster-- not something to just throw away to a reliever who hasn't been spectacular for much of his career. He has a career 3.47 ERA over 5 teams, and his career line would be much better if not for rough years in 2008 and 2009 before missing a whole season in 2010. The last time the Red Sox plucked a reliever from the Evil Empire it worked pretty well (Alfredo Aceves), so I'd be all for trying it again!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Red Sox Emerge As A Contender For Gio Gonzalez

It is fairly widely known that the Oakland A's have amazing pitching and terrible hitting. It is also fairly widely known that would be shopping one of their pitchers (probably Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill) to get some offense in return. Yesterday, I heard a report that the Red Sox were "very high" on Gio Gonzalez, a lefty who has emerged as one of the better pitchers in baseball over the last couple of years. In 2011, he had his second straight great year, going 16-12/3.12/197. On a better team, like the Red Sox, Gonzalez could easily become a 20-game winner and a perennial Cy Young candidate. Of course, the Red Sox are not the only team in on Gonzalez, as multiple reports have surfaced of him possibly going to the Marlins or *gasp* the Yankees. Now, the problem is how to get Gio. After the Adrian Gonzalez trade, many of our high-caliber prospects are gone. However, seeing as Gonzalez is one of the best starters in the game right now, I would be very open to making a package around Will Middlebrooks or Bryce Brentz. If the Red Sox could land Gonzalez, I would be incredibly happy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Red Sox Offer Ortiz, Wheeler Arbitration

The title says enough that I don't have to write a topic sentence here. I'll do one anyways though; the Red Sox have offered arbitration to David Ortiz (right) and Dan Wheeler. Ortiz had a monster year in 2011, hitting .309/29/96, reverting back to his masher form from 2003-2007. Ortiz would be a Type A free agent, so we would get a draft pick if he signed elsewhere. However, he has stated that he would like to stay in Boston. He also has said he would like a multi-year deal, something he may not get with arbitration. However, he would get a raise from the $12.5 million he earned last year-- something that may tempt him. Wheeler had a fairly mediocre year last season in the bullpen, not quite living up to expectations. He went 2-2/4.38/39 in his first (and possibly only) year in Boston. Through arbitration, the Red Sox would have to offer him at least $2.4 million. This may be tempting to him, because after a mediocre year, I doubt he'd get more than that on the open market; I also doubt he'd get a multi-year deal. I think Wheeler is a good chance to resign, and Papi is a something like 60% in my opinion.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Red Sox Make Three Minor Moves

For pitching depth, the Red Sox have made moves to acquire three minor league free agents. These include former Pirates lefty Justin Thomas (right), Padres righty Will Inman, and Orioles righty Chorye Spoon. Of the three, Thomas is the only one with major league experience, as he pitched 12 games for the Pirates in 2010 and 8 games for the Mariners in 2008. He has compiled a career 0-2/6.35/7 line in 17 innings in the majors. With the Indianapolis Indians (the Pirates' AAA affiliate) in 2011, Thomas had a pretty good year, going 8-2/3.89/59 in 63 games. Inman had a tough year in 2011 to say the least, going 5-11/6.15/120 in 42 games (17 starts) with the Tucson Padres (the Padres' AAA affiliate). Chorye Spoone was average in a season split between the Bowie Baysox (AA) and Norfolk Tides (AAA). Between the two, he went 7-6/4.50/80 in 31 games (19 starts). Of the three pitchers, I see Thomas as the only one who potentially would make an impact as a reliever at the major league level. On a different note, minor leaguers Drew Sutton and Tommy Hottovy have signed elsewhere: Sutton with the Braves and Hottovy with the Royals.

Ellsbury Gets This One Stolen From Him

Usually, it's Jacoby Ellsbury doing the stealing; this time, he's getting stolen from. I expect most casual Red Sox fans know that our stud Jacoby Ellsbury finished 2nd in MVP voting to Justin Verlander. Now, I am going to say that Verlander was fantastic. He absolutely deserved the Cy Young, but I don't think that somebody playing every five games should win the MVP award. Pitchers do have their own award after all. Verlander was probably more valuable to the Tigers than Ellsbury was to the Sox, as I don't think they would have won the division without him. However, I am of the personal opinion that the MVP award should generally go to a batter. Yes, I'm guilty. If a Red Sox pitcher wins the MVP, I won't be saying this. However, it's not all about the Red Sox as I was predicting Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays to win the MVP and would have been surprised if Ellsbury did. Ellsbury had a great season, going .321/32/105 with 39 stolen bases: becoming the first 30-30 man in Red Sox history. He had a career year, and I hope he continues his stellar career as a member of the Red Sox. Congratulations to Justin Verlander as well.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Conor Says... Sign Aaron Harang

In my opinion, I think that a move for Aaron Harang is a no-brainer for the Red Sox. He'd likely be cheap, and he gave the Padres a great season last year, going 14-7/3.64/124. He is exactly what we need in an innings-eater, as he put together 3 straight 200+ innings seasons from 2005-2007, and put up 160+ in 2008, 2009, and 2011. He is not a strikeouts pitcher, with only 6.5 strikeouts per nine and doesn't have the best control with 3.1 walks per nine. However, he has an ability to just get people out, unlike some people who don't get many strikeouts either.... *cough cough... Lackey and Wakefield... *cough cough. While he did put up this season in Petco Park, a well known pitcher's park, he also had some very good seasons with the Reds in Great American Ballpark, a well known hitter's park. I think we could get Harang for fairly cheap, probably something like 2 yr/$20 million and could probably get a very solid pitcher out of him. I think he would definitely be superior to whatever anybody on the current roster beyond Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz could give.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Red Sox Meet With Agent Of Oswalt, Wilson

According to multiple sources, the Red Sox have met with Bob Garber, the agent of free agent pitchers Roy Oswalt (right) and C.J. Wilson. Of the two, I would definitely prefer Oswalt-- not because he is a better pitcher, but because he would be less likely to be a bust. Wilson is the best pitcher on a fairly weak free agent market after going 16-7/2.94/206 in 2011 and will probably get a very large deal of something around 5 years and $85-90 million. Oswalt, on the other hand, had an injury-hampered year in 2011, but it was the first time in 7 years he had not made 30 starts, he made 23 for the Phillies. In those 23 starts, he was certainly not bad, going 9-10/3.69/93. He is definitely not the Roy Oswalt in his prime, where from 2001-2008, he rattled off 8 consecutive years with an ERA under 4.00 to begin his career. However, he would be much more affordable that Wilson, and his consistency would be a huge asset. It may be difficult for Oswalt (and Wilson, less so) to adjust to the AL East, having played in the NL his whole career, however, I bet he could handle it. I would be very pleased to have Oswalt, but I'd be a bit surprised if they heavily chased C.J. Wilson.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Red Sox To Scout Cuban Phenom Yoenis Cespedes

It has been announced that new GM Ben Cherington will be shipping down to the Dominican Republic to watch Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes is expected to be a hot commodity for many this winter. However, he really makes sense for the Red Sox. He is a right-handed right fielder who hits for power and has good speed. Last season in Cuba, he had a remarkable season, hitting .333 with 33 home runs in only 99 games. Since he has not played in MLB or Japan, I don't have too many stats on him right now-- however, pretty much every site I've seen says he is a 5-tool player and I assume I'll believe them. However, as I said earlier, he is a hot commodity for many teams across the board, and as usual when there's a good player involved, the Yankees are one of them. The highest contract ever for a Cuban defector was Aroldis Chapman in the 2009 offseason, and that was for 6 years/$30.25 million. Cespedes is expected to get that, and possibly more. I think if the Sox don't overpay for him, this would be a great move for Ben Cherington.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Conor Says... Sign Mike Gonzalez

In 2011, due to many posts and comments on certain blogs-- I saw that many Red Sox fans were unhappy with Franklin Morales. Acquired in May from the Rockies, Morales pitched for a 1-1/3.62/36 season in 36 games with the Sox. That is not bad at all, however, his walk rates and FIP of 4.26 tell a different tale and scare me a bit. In that case, I think it may not be a bad idea to have another lefty in the bullpen, and one free agent who comes to mind in Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a somewhat tough year in 2011, split between the Rangers and Orioles. He was 2-2/4.39/51; however, he was hurt for some time. Through 2010 and 2011, Gonzalez certainly did not live up to the hype of his 2 year/$12 million deal struck with the Orioles. This likely means the lefty would be available for a 1 year/$3-4 million deal due to his recent injury history. Also, he could fill in the closer role from time to time as he has some experience as a closer (He saved 24/24 chances with the Pirates in 2006).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Red Sox Finish Phase One of Managerial Interviews

After the Red Sox interviewed Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont today, they have their final five candidates. These include Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., Dodgers third base coach Torey Lovullo, and Lamont. Many reporters have indicated that Sveum (right) is the front-runner for the position, with Alomar not too far behind. However, reports have stated that Ben Cherington is "high on Sveum, and the rest of the interviewing process may just be a formality." Sveum was the Red Sox third base coach from 2004-2005, and was very bad, apparently-- I wouldn't know. My top candidates would be Mackanin and Alomar. I like Mackanin because he has stated that he is very into statistics, which could really help our club. Alomar would command respect from the players because he was a good player in his day, and he would also help the latino players. I look forward to the Red Sox naming their manager for 2012 and (hopefully) beyond.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Papelbon Leaves For Phillies

Well, it's official-- star closer Jonathan Papelbon has left the Red Sox, signing a 4 year/$50 million contract with the Phillies today. Papelbon had a very good year with the Red Sox in 2011, going 4-1/2.33/87, along with saving 31 of 34 chances. Papelbon is the only closing pitcher in history to save 30 games in the first 6 full seasons of his career. He also is the Red Sox franchise saves leader, with 219, as he has been the primary closer for the Red Sox since 2006. HOWEVER, he is not worth $50 million and here's why. Yes, he is an above average closer-- top 5, I'd say. Still, he has directly ended the Red Sox season for 3 consecutive years, less so in 2010 though. In 2009, he was unable to protect a 5-2 lead in Game 3 of the ALDS which ended the Red Sox season. In 2010, he was just bad. This year, he was unable to protect a 3-2 lead with 2 outs and nobody on in the 9th inning of a crucial Game 162. I wish you well, Paps, you had a great career with the Sox.

Red Sox Have Contacted Grady Sizemore

As I pointed out the other day, the Red Sox are in need of a right fielder for 2012. I also pointed out that they have been extensively linked to Carlos Beltran. However, it has been reported that, while they are interested in Beltran, they have actually called Grazy Sizemore. Earlier in the offseason, the Indians declined Sizemore's $9 million option for the 2012 season, meaning he would likely be available for less than that. I think he is widely seen as a low-risk high-reward option, as he has been consistently injured since 2009. From 2005-2008, he put together 4 straight All-Star seasons in which he consistently batted over .265 with more than 20 home runs and 75 RBIs, as well as 20 steals. However, since then he has been much worse, going only .224/10/32 in 71 games this year. If the Red Sox were able to pick up on Sizemore and he could bat .250/20/65 with 20 steals, I would be very happy with this move.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Red Sox Reported To Be Interested In Carlos Beltran

This afternoon, multiple reports surfaced that the Red Sox are pretty heavily into outfielder Carlos Beltran. After injury-filled years in 2009-2010, Beltran resurfaced as an everyday player and a star in 2011. In a year split between the Mets and Giants, Beltran went .300/22/84. Of the free agents who are outfielders, Beltran is clearly the best option available. He is reported to be interested in a 2 year deal, and the Red Sox appear to be the biggest suitor. If the Red Sox were able to sign Beltran, they would become an absolutely dynamic offense. Beltran would fill the only question mark in our lineup with a plus bat that, to top it off, is a switch-hitter. He is slightly better against righties, but he still batted .286 off of lefties in 2012; as this would add another big bat to an already great lineup. If the Red Sox were able to sign Beltran for a 2 yr/$20 million deal, it would be a great move.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Conor Says... Sign Michael Cuddyer

Heading into 2012, the Red Sox only position in need of improvement will be right field. Josh Reddick started off very hot, but once pitchers made adjustments on him, he faded down the stretch, batting .235 over the final two months. That is why I think the Sox should sign a more consistent right fielder in Michael Cuddyer-- a guy who batted .284/20/70 in 2011 for the Twins. However, his best year was in 2009, when he went .276/32/94 to help lead the Twins to a division title. Another asset would be his versatility, as he can play the corner outfield positions, as well as every infield position except shortstop. For me, he would be the starting right fielder, as well as giving Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez a few breaks at first and third base. The Phillies have been linked to Cuddyer-- but I think we could pry him away for a certain price. I think that 3 years for $25 million would be reasonable, but nothing too much more than that. Thanks for reading and comment what you think!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Three Is The Magic Number For Sox, As Silver Sluggers Are Announced

Right after three Red Sox took home Gold Gloves last night, three Sox took home Silver Sluggers today. In fact, two of the three players that won Gold Gloves last night, won Silver Sluggers today. The three Silver Sluggers for the Sox are first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (right), and designated hitter David Ortiz. They all had great offensive seasons, with Gonzalez going .338/27/117, Ellsbury going .321/32/105, and Ortiz going .309/29/96. The most special of these was definitely Jacoby Ellsbury, who won Sox.Rox Player of the Year with a great year. After an injury-riddled 2010, nobody expected this kind of production out of Ellsbury-- including me. His power output was tremendous compared to his previous 2 full years, as he more than doubled his total. Gonzalez was great up until late in the year when his power disappeared, but he still had a fantastic season. Ortiz was good as well, as the 2010 Sox.Rox Player of the Year was even better in 2011, as he really rebounded from a seemingly never-ending slump. I'm really proud of our Sox, and we have a very solid chance in 2012!

Three Sox Take Home Gold Gloves

Last night, the Gold Glove Award winners were announced; at the time, 4 Red Sox were finalists for an AL Gold Glove. These players were first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, second baseman Dustin Pedroia (right), third baseman Kevin Youkilis, and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. As things turned out, everyone but Kevin Youkilis took home a Gold Glove at their respective position. This was Gonzalez's 3rd Gold Glove ('08, '09, '11), Pedroia's 2nd ('08, '11), and Ellsbury's 1st ('11). Ever since the Nomar Garciaparra trade on July 31, 2004; the Red Sox have really made a move to improve their defense. Many years that I've been watching NESN they've showed the defense and I've heard that the Red Sox rank 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in errors that year. In fact, this was the first time that 3 Red Sox teammates won the award since 1979 when Rick Burleson, Dwight Evans, and Fred Lynn did it. It was even the 1st time since 1990 that multiple Red Sox won it when Mike Boddicker and Ellis Burks did it. I'm proud of all these guys and happy they are on my team!