Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hot Stove on low heat

Timlin, Wakefield, Cora??? Wow, this is worse than I thought. I realize that the Hot Stove has just been lit, but how can this version of the Sox be rebuilt in one off-season?

In my opinion, it can't. For a team looking to get better, I can see holding on to Wakefield, but Timlin? The guy was solid in years past, but his injury last year really took something out of him. Maybe he'll get it back, but more than likely he is headed the way of Embree. Bad signing.

Cora is a great backup infielder, no doubt about that. He shows patience at the plate, and can play both SS and 2B. However, how many light hitting (read :no power), middle infielders do the Sox need? Perhaps he is insurance for Pedroia. However, the Sox are looking to re-sign Gonzalez, and they are still speaking with Loretta. With Youk staying at first, this is an infield with no power (and this includes Lowell at third).

But what are the alternatives? The Sox seem to really like Youkilis at first. The guy is a gamer, no doubt. But the Sox need another huge bat on the infield. They are looking at a Japanese player with some power as a possible upgrade over Lowell. But take a look at Matsui. I'd love to have him in the Sox outfield, but the guy is not a "power" hitter. If they re-sign Gonzalez, have Pedroia play second, Youk and first and Lowell at third, how many homers do you see out of those guys combined? 55? 60? Let's not even speak of the combined averages of Gonzalez and Pedroia.

Varitek had a down year offensively, and looking at how far behind on fastballs his swing was, I can't see him getting much better this year. They have a very young backup (acquired in the trade for Wells), but how much time is he going to see? How much power from Tek and the new guy? 15-20 Hrs?

Now to the outfield. Manny will be back. Coco in CF. And there is a right-field position open. It is obvious that the Sox need not only someone with a good arm out there, but also a lot of power. This is, of course, the reason the Yankees exercised Sheffield's option. Not sure who else is available that could fit this bill, but this has to be a position on which the Sox focus.

Prospective lineup:

Wow, that bottom of the order is not good. A solid hitting middle-infielder could do wonders down there. Also, and I know that his fielding is questionable, but wouldn't Soriano in the 2-spot or 5-spot make you feel much better about this lineup?

So, seeing that there are many, many holes to fill on this team, what is the one move that could really make them a contender? The answer there is a top starting pitcher. This means a legit #1. And you give up a lot to get it. If you get a horse that throws 7-innings of nearly lights-out ball 4 out of 5 starts, then go to Schilling, then Beckett, and have Papelbon and Wakefield at the back-end of your rotation, you can get away with a weaker pen. Delcarmen, Hansen, Tavarez, and Timlin don't look too bad at that point, and the weaker hitting infielders aren't so glaring.

So, what's the point of all this? Well, as the Sox sit right now, don't hold your breath for next year. There are a ton of questions, and not many available "exciting" players to fill them.


  1. I agree...the one starter hole will be key. But....Delcarmen, Hansen, Tavarez, and Timlin? The bullpen needs two or three additional key additions. No repeat of last year can be tolerated. The first is, of course, the closer...Theo had some things to say about this in today's Herald, and I used that for a post. Right now the oh so glaring needs are right there, in the 'pen. Pitching-wise. The infield? Another time, another comment. Good stuff.

  2. Good Lord. Anxiety that the Sox haven't done something yet is like handing out grades for the semester before even the first class has been attended.

    The FA period has not even started. Plus, it is very likely to stretch well into January this year with a lot of the deadlines being moved.

    I can't get too worked up about Timlin. Its for relatively short money. He will have a bit of a calming influence at the start of the season. Francona trusts veterans, but if he does not perform, he will be releaseed or disappear onto the DL. It can't be considered a bad signing unless he actually starts costing them games.

    Cora is a decent signing as well. Its an insurance policy. If what we read is accurate, the Sox will go hard after Lugo. Keep Gonzlaez warm. Talk to Loretta (aho may get interest from the Mets). Consider Dustin. So there are lots of IFs. And if they do pan out, thye know he is an effective role player.

    I agree most of those guys mentioned will likely be back at the positions indicated, however realistically the only two that are guarantees are Tek and Ortiz.

    We've already heard Lowell's names in talks. Coco could be this year's Renteria (hey maybe the deal with ATL and work out something for Andruw). You haven't even mentioned Pena or Clement - who have to be in the plans somehow (including being ivolved in some trades).

    I know its tempting to talk about Soraino, but that would be a bad sign (at the $$ they are talking). Putting him at 2B could be a disaster.

    I think patience is in order. The first FA offers can't even be made until sunday. There are GM meetings next week. Tender deadlines next month - we once got a pretty decent power hitter after that date.

    As you note, as the Sox sit right now. I don't think anyone expects the Sox to take the field next year with what they have (especially with ??? batting second and fifth).

    As noted earlier, I'm going to start a pool to come up with "guess the opening day lineup and rotation." I shold do that this weekend before the Hot stove gets turned on.

  3. Not anxiety that I am feeling here. I am more feeling that it is going to be difficult to fix this team in one off-season.

    None of their prospects seem "ready", the FA market looks thin, and they aren't (as we know) really going to overspend.

    I agree that many guys on this roster can be traded. Lowell certainly made his case last year that he is an excellent fielding third baseman, and a guy who can still hit. Coco is young, and I can see the Sox keeping him unless a huge trade comes up (I was thinking Jones, as well).

    There was talk this morning about adding JD Drew. Bad move, in my opinion, unless you are moving Youkilis and/or Lowell. I just can't see this front office moving Youk. However, that doesn't mean that I don't think they shouldn't move him. I can never really see Youk hitting more than .290 with 20HRs and 80 RBI, or at least averaging that. Still, that's a pretty nice bat to have for low money. He works hard on defense and can hardly be called a liability.

    Again, I agree with what you are saying. I wasn't writing about anxiety, I just think that this team is more than a year away from being really competitive again.

  4. Fair enough. You are right about most of the prospects and the FA market. But I do think Theo will get creative with trades. The good news is that the Yanks have some big holes as well - makr my words right now, the Wanger will lose more games than he wins next year and have an ERA over 5.00 and everyone else is a ???.

    Bad news - Toronto may be the scariest team in the division. If Burnett stays healthy and Chacin bounces back, they will have the best rotation in the division.

    And the assessment of Youk is spot on - nice guy to have at low money, but as soon as he starts making more than $3-4 MM, its time to go - especially for a power position.

    I really do think that come April, there will only be 3 (4 max)starting position players back from last year.

  5. And one more thing - JD Drew is now, by far, the best FA bat on the market. Its not even close. Of course you also have the health issues. So he turns down $33 Million over 3 years so he must be thinking he can get Ordonez money. I can’t imagine he hates LA so much that he wants out. Then again, in this market, I’m sure he will get a bump in AAV to at least $13-14 and he may get two more years (or at least one). I would love to have his bat in the 5 hole, I would be terrified of the injury risk.