I think a summer of Beefeater gin and tonics is staring me straight in the face.
Tag Archives: Adrian Gonzalez
Theo Epstein has given me a reason to write again.
Actually, he has given me two of them.
With today’s announcement that the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford, and last week’s trade for my long time man-crush, Adrian Gonzalez, the Sox are back. They have shifted the balance of power, stolen the thunder from a 10-2 Patriots team (by the way Rex Ryan, did you know that fist can be a verb?) and banished the championship contending Celtics and Bruins to the second page of the sports section. Once again this is a baseball town and the general malaise that had settled in at the end of last season is officially so gone that I have completely forgotten that anything between Papelbon entering in the ninth inning of game three of the ALDS in 2009 and when I woke up to the joyous news Saturday morning.
Now I know what all of you Christians have been saying about Christmas morning, but this was better.
Gone are the injuries, the worries, and watching Eric Patterson and Danny Nava playing in big games for the Sox. Gone is the f@#$%ing bridge year, and gone is the small market mindset. The Red Sox have flexed their muscles and now the rest of the league has to be afraid.
The best part of today was that I gave my students a pop quiz so that I could read all of the coverage, watch the video of Cashman shaking his head and imagining the price tag on Cliff Lee, who the Yankees absolutely must get, and above all, play with the lineup. Just picturing a lineup with a healthy Youk and Pedey, Ellsbury (I still think he’s the king of the Pink Hats) and Crawford terrorizing the basepaths, and Gonzalez chipping paint off the monster on a daily basis is making me smile and count the days to Pitchers and Catchers (66). After many hours of work (while I was supposed to be educating children), I have come to the following lineup:
Gonzo the Great (1B),
The Beard (3B),
Drew (only one more year, RF),
This way there are three on base guys in front of Gonzo and Youk, allowing them to drive guys in, and it keeps a semblance of the right-left pattern that Tito likes to keep in order to prevent other teams from using a specialist on the heart of the order. It is worth mentioning that both Gonzo and Craw (I’m auditioning nicknames, feel free to contribute) hit lefties very well and that Gonzo absolutely crushes everything, including the souls of people named Steinbrenner. There is also potential for Salty to continue to develop and move up in front of Drew in the order, furthering Tito’s right-left desires (both of the catchers are switch hitters).
Oh, and have I mentioned that the three and four pitchers in our rotation are as good, if not better than most other team’s one and two? Yeah, Beckett is looking like he is going to come out pissed off at all the people who said that he shouldn’t have gotten the extension last year and Lackey will be the same way at us (and I say us, because I am one of these people) and come out firing.
The bullpen is the only question left (other than who bats where in the lineup and how many games we win the east by), headed by the nutcase who is in his final year with the Sox and must show up big for the big contract that he wants. Bard is solid and getting better (look at what he did to lefties last season, and that’s as a righthander), and the rest of the pieces…. well…… I trust in Theo.
He’s gotten us this far.
The Sox have weathered a first month of the season filled with injuries, ineffectiveness and all other manner of suckitude, and have surprisingly come out of it with a 11-12 record. They have beaten up on the dregs of the AL, and thank god for doormats, going 9-4 against the Royals, Jays, O’s and Texas, while running up a less than impressive 2-8 record vs the Rays, Yanks and Twins. What’s surprising is not that there have been issues, it’s been what they are.
We all know about the Ortiz-Tito-Lowell love triangle, the injuries to Ellsbury and Cameron, and the general anemia of the Sox offense, but the pink elephant in the room is really the catching situation. Plain and simple, Victor has been about as impressive on the field as what I left in the toilet this morning. He’s hitting .247, with an OBP of .301, through 20 games as catcher and DH, has hit only one home run and has five RBI. Added to that is the fact that he is 1-27 in catching runners, and has never been the strongest defensively or as a signal caller.
On the other side of the coin is the guy who still wears the “C” for the Red Sox. Jason Varitek is the highest paid backup/personal catcher (Beckett) in the majors and he has earned it. He has been a rock for the team for the past eight seasons, and has led them to two Series titles. Over the past two seasons he has been much maligned for his lack of offense, even though he has started hot both times and eventually worn down (he hit .239 with 13 HR and 38 RBI in the first half last year, and .157/1/13 in the second). At this point, however, he is flourishing in the backup role. Without the wear and tear his body has taken as a backstop each day, he has hit .323 with four home runs and 8 RBI.
The simple answer here is to put the Captain back behind the plate and mix Victor in with the clusterfuck that is the DH position. While it’s not easy, it would get the more potent bat (at least at the moment) into the lineup, and put a guy who had the best catcher ERA (that would be his pitchers ERA while he is behind the plate) in the AL last season. The problem with that is the downturn that Tek’s numbers will take once he is spending every day crouching, and the fact that, as great he is as a signal caller, his arm is as much a wet noodle as Johnny Damon’s when it comes to nailing base stealers.
So, what’s left?
Nothing really. Chris Iannetta is available, having been sent down to the Rockies after struggling in very limited chances this season (30 AB), but that would necessitate adding a third catcher to the roster and effing with the balance of everything else. There are also a few other trading options, but none that really fit the bill. Gerald Laird might be a possibility from the Tigers, but he presents the same issues as Iannetta, as does Chris Snyder of the D-backs.
There’s the wait and see option, where the Sox let it ride and hope that Victor removes head from ass and starts hitting like he did last fall, when he went .358 with the Sox. They could also remain internal and give the recently-promoted-to-Pawtucket Lars Anderson a shot if he shows something at AAA.
Truly, the best option is to make the move that everyone wants. Make a deal. Bring in Prince Fielder or Give Jed Hoyer whatever the hell he wants and acquire Adrian Gonzalez to shore up the middle of the order, move Youk to third and let Tek be a bit of a black hole in the lineup as catcher, kinda. The Sox would then have time to develop Luis Exposito, Mark Wagner, Adalberto Ibarra (the new cuban guy) or any of the other guys in the pipeline into a Major League quality catcher. This allows the club to avoid screwing with the balance (O.K. it necessitates trading or cutting Ortiz, Lowell or Beltre) and do something that is not just a stopgap, but a longer term solution.
There is no quick and simple fix for this, especially with the fact that the Sox are still missing both of their centerfielders, the starters are hit and miss (though we have gotten three quality starts in a row), Bard is still giving up too many homers, and Beltre, the “best defensive third baseman on the planet” has more errors than homers (even though he is now hitting .338).
Trust in Theo.
Ever since the end of the season, and all of Theo’s “Bridge Year” crap, the Sox have been in a state of flux. The departure of Jason Bay (unless……), the attempted trade of Mike Lowell, and the signings of Scutaro, Cameron and Lackey have in many ways opened up more questions than answers. Among the biggest are Who is going to be in center, Cameron or Ellsbury? What will Lowell’s role be (if he stays with the team after surgery)? Where in the hell are we going to get runs from?
Of course, the huge boner I get just thinking about Adrian Gonzalez in a Red Sox uniform is one answer to many of the questions, and may still happen, but with the Sox payroll building up towards the magic $170 million mark (including benefits and other crap which players can afford with the millions they are getting paid), where luxury tax kicks in, there aren’t many other options for adding to the roster.
As an aside, I have to say that I agree with John Henry in his stance on Baseball’s current revenue sharing plan. If the big market teams are going to pay the small market teams to keep things competitive, then those teams that get the money should be required to spend it. The Yankees (the only team above the tax number last season), had a bigger payroll than the bottom four teams combined. The owners of those teams should be required to keep a certain minimum salary level for players so that the money from the Sox, Yanks and others isn’t just going to lining the pockets of assholes (the aforementioned owners), and the fans actually have a reason to actually go out and support them.
With this in mind, the Sox are looking for a cheap way to improve their offense. I say that option has been masquerading as a vastly overpaid, weak armed, beardless outfielder in New York for the past four seasons. Ever since he ditched the Sox for the Yanks following 2005, Johnny Damon’s abilities to play the outfield and get on base at the top of the lineup have been declining, but he does still have some pop in his bat, and could probably play a pretty good first base with his range and talent for catching the ball. He would need to learn a new position, and given the Sox’ hopes to improve the defense this offseason (as they have already done with Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro) this would be a deviation from the plan.
The upside of the signing is that Damon (formerly Captain Caveman) is one of the guys that will fall prey to the “Abreu Effect” by which productive veterans (24 HR, 82 RBI, 107 Runs, .854 OPS last year) end up sitting around until the new year (coming soon) and then sign bargain basement one year deals for the chance to prove themselves again. Damon could very well end up as one of those guys, and one year/$5-6 million might just get it done (even with Satan/Scott Boras as his agent). He also would not have to be hitting leadoff or second, but could slide into the eighth spot and protect guys like Ellsbury at the top of the lineup. Combined with Cameron, and considering the fact that there was no offense out of the Shortstop position last season (sure to be improved upon by Scutaro), Damon could definitely fill the offensive hole left by Bay.
And it gives me an excuse to show this all the time:
Just a thought. Merry Christmas, be safe, and our best to you from the Ballpark.
Aaaaaand, We’re back.
Awkwardly, so is Mike Lowell. The third baseman, gold glove and World Series MVP winning as he is, was supposed to be traded (along with $9 million) to the Texas Rangers for 25 year old catcher Max Ramirez at the end of the Winter Meetings a few weeks ago. Then his physical held everything up. The bum hip that slowed him in the field last season and a thumb injury suffered at the end of the year were both hold ups, but people kept assuring us that this was going to happen, and the Sox would fill the hole by switching Youk to third and finding someone else for first, or signing Adrian Beltre, or building a second, robotic Youkilis so that he can man both sides of the diamond. All we knew for sure was that Treebeard was gone.
Or not. Saturday night I’m out with some buddies playing darts and watching the Saints lose to the Cowboys (and getting my car towed because of the f#$%ing snow emergency), and what do I see crawl across the bottom of the screen but the news that the trade is off. Treebeard (and his massive wooden penis) is back with the Sox.
Now comes the hard part, bringing Lowell back into the fold without leaning on him too heavily (like depending upon him to start at third this year), or alienating him further by making him feel like the awkward guy hanging out when his friend is about to nail both their dates. It is the hard part not only because the Sox tried to trade him and pay for him to go, but because they did the same last year while talking to Teixeira, and he had only come back to the Sox in ’08 for less money than the Phillies had offered him. What nobody wants is an unhappy guy in the clubhouse, especially one who is know for being such a class act. That is the kind of thing that leads to the team (most importantly the young nucleus) starting to distrust the management of the team.
My hope is that Lowell gets the surgery, comes back healthy and dominating in spring training, and the team either keeps him around for the year, or Texas comes calling again and we get back Max Ramirez. Of course, Ramirez is on the other end of this stick, the guy who an organization was willing to give up for a 35 year old injury risk filled stopgap. Ramirez is now lost as a piece of the puzzle to the Adrian Gonzalez mystery, and/or the future of the team as a first baseman.
Either way, this whole thing isn’t going to get worked out any time soon, even if people close to Gonzalez tell the media that he thinks he’s going to be traded before New Years.
It is a big risk signing any 31 year old pitcher to a five ear deal, but Lackey has the right body style and the bulldog makeup to be a horse for the next five years. He also works as Beckett insurance and gives the team a starting point at which to open negotiations for a contract extension. In the short term this gives the Sox the best rotation in the AL, so we’ve got that going for us.
It’s the other move that the team made the two days ago that I’m not to hot on. Last year the Sox were a power outage waiting to happen. They went long stretches where you couldn’t get a run out of their offense if you paid them millions of dollars for it (which the team did). Now they have gone out and improved defensively and in the pitching staff, which makes it so that they will have to score fewer runs, but you still can’t win if you don’t score any.
Which brings me to the point. I was O.K. with the Sox cutting Jason Bay loose (unless he ends up in Pinstripes in which case Theo just shat the bed bigtime). Mike Reinhold (the Sox new head trainer, replacing the fired Paul Lessard) saw something in his shoulder MRI that the team didn’t like past a four year deal, and he doesn’t think that’s good enough for him. Whatever it is couldn’t have been that bad, because he has never played less than 145 games in a season. Bay has power, but he also strikes out a lot (by a lot I mean 162 times in 151 games), so it’s not the biggest loss in the world.
But letting him go for $8 million worth of Mike Cameron? That is crazy talk. The simple fact is that Cameron has less power, draws fewer walks and strikes out just as much as Bay does. Yes, he is better defensively, and can play center field, but the Sox play 81 games a season in Fenway park, where left field is smaller than my apartment, and at the moment the team has a pretty effing good center fielder.
What really scares me at this point is that people are saying this might lead to Jacoby Ellsbury (the aforementioned pretty effing good centerfielder) being sent to San Diego with Clay Buchholz for Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez is good, but Ellsbury should be untouchable. He is a Gold Glove caliber center fielder, a game changer on the basepaths and is just learning to be a real major league hitter. In the words of anybody even remotely associated with the NBA draft, Jacoby has Tremendous Upside Potential. Theo and crew can send Buchholz, Ryan Westmoreland (who Hoyer supposedly loves), Max Ramirez (if that deal ever goes through) and anyone else they want to SD, but Ellsbury is untouchable.
I don’t want Mike Cameron in left field at Fenway. He doesn’t contribute to the offense and though he (and Hermida, whou would likely be his platoon partner) improve the defense, you can’t win games if you don’t score runs, no matter how few you allow.
(please disregard this entirely if the Sox trade anybody but Ellsbury for Adrian Gonzalez, who not only hits a ton, but is a Gold Glove first baseman. In that case I’m fine with Cameron shoring up the defense out there.)