Monday, October 12, 2009

We forge ahead.

Pioneer spirit, my friends.

It's easy to say this now with the benefit of hindsight, but I was leery of the playoff chances for the Sox a while before the playoffs even started. When Kyle posted about Paps a month ago, I couldn't get on board. Sure, I wanted him to be great, but I'd seen a couple of outings too many where the "bend, don't break" approach went too far. Is he a great pitcher, even after yesterday? Of course. Was he the freaky, control-the-weather, out-making machine we've seen in the past? No -- and not just yesterday.

We're spoiled. Two World Series wins this decade (plus three for the Pats and one for the Celtics), and a franchise built to go to the playoffs every single year. Changes will come during the off-season, for sure, but the engine is still in place.

So, tell me what you think about these Hot Stove questions . . .
  • What happens to Varitek?
  • What happens to Lowell?
  • What's the everyday starting lineup next year?
  • What's the ideal 2010 rotation?
  • What are you most excited about for 2010?
Eager to have your thoughts.

17 comments:

adamcohen said...

I get it.

We're spoiled. I've even been in conversations around how all the winning is going to spoil our kids. Losing in this way makes you a true Boston fan and puts hair on your chest. Blah blah blah. We could have one each of these 3 games, but didn't. We could have pushed hard to beat NYY for the division (thus facing the Twins instead for this round) but didn't. I could've had a V8 too, but I didn't. It doesn't make it an easier pill to swallow but I plan on getting behind LAA pretty fast the rest of the playoffs.

For Hot Stove - I think we could have seen the last of both Tek and Ortiz in Sox uniforms. I expect some modern breakthrough in bionic hips to keep Lowell around. I think Dice-K will come in next year and dominate - he essentially took this year off, he lost weight, maybe he'll gain some control. While the chalk outline on the pavement isn't even dry yet it's hard to get excited to 2010 at the moment.

Aaron_Strout said...

Tim - thanks for helping put things in perspective.

Like Adam, I don't necessarily feel a lot better today than I did yesterday, in spite of the "spoiled/hair on chest/real fan" arguments. And I do agree that we could have/should have won at least yesterday's game against the Halo's. That was a real kick in the groin. Maybe we would have been mowed down by the Yankees but it would have been nice to have that opportunity.

I do, however, like the idea of looking ahead at 2010 since that might be the only thing in MLB that is appealing to me right now. Here's my projected lineup:

* Martinez - C
* Youkilis - 1B
* Pedroia - 2B
* Lowell - 3B
* Lowrie - SS
* Bay - LF
* Ellsbury - CC
* Someone new - RF
* Someone new - DH

Varitek will not be with the team next year. I think Ortiz goes too.

Starting rotation:

* Beckett
* Lester
* DiceK
* Buchholz
* Wakefield/Bowden/free agent signing

Bullpen

* Ramirez
* Bard
* Okajima
* Wagner
* Papelbon

I think the big departures for the Sox will be Varitek, JD Drew, Ortiz and Manny Delcarmen (is he considered a big departure at this point)? I think Lowell sticks it out but the Sox may make an effort to resign Gonzalez and then spell Lowell at 3rd with Lowrie for 2010 with a more permanent solution coming in 2011.

What am I most excited about in 2010? Seeing the most dominant starting 4 in Red Sox recent history since 1986 (Clemens, Hurst, Boyd and Al Nipper w/ a late addition of Tom Seaver). Second most is Ellsbury stealing over 100 bases.

adamcohen said...

Aaron - No way someone picks up Drew's contract next year. $15M I think? He's got one more year to go. As much as many love to hate him, he actually has some serious numbers going in his favor. Did you see the Gammons post about him?

http://espn.go.com/boston/columns/blog?post=4525182&name=gammons

Aaron_Strout said...

Adam - trust me, I actually like Drew and have defended him in past posts on BigP. He is just injured too damn much. And while his salary is seemingly unmovable, the Sox have demonstrated in the past (hello Manny Ramirez and Edgar Martinez) that where there's a will, there's a way.

Great post by Gammons btw. I hadn't read it but it confirmed a lot of things I know to be true about Drew. I think the low key/act like you've been here before thing hurts him publicly but it's the constant injury bug that really kills him in the fans eyes. Just my $.02

Tim Walker said...

I take your point, Adam, and let me hasten to add that nothing I'm saying here is meant to pour salt in the wound. Mainly (and speaking only for myself), I want to be *very* careful to avoid Yankee Entitlement Disease -- that horrible affliction where fans start to feel like it's their God-given right to play in the Series every year.

Drew's back next year, and he will put wins on the board. But we need another big bat.

Tim Walker said...

BTW, Aaron -- I think Drew is one of those guys (my fave Larry Walker was another) for whom we just have to recalibrate our expectations of playing time. 130 games IS a full season for him, and anything above that is gravy.

Thank goodness the Sox can afford to pay what they're paying for him (and Baldelli) to produce like that.

Jim Storer said...

I had an iPhone moment the other day lost an entire comment in here b/c of a phone call, so here's take two (on my laptop).

Agree with Aaron's lineup and rotation, but think Drew will be back in RF too. I wouldn't be surprised to see Nick Green battle Lowrie for SS in spring training. We'll see.

The other issue is Varitek. My understanding is he has a player option to return to the Red Sox next year for $3M. The question there is whether he's better off being an unrestricted free agent or taking the $3M and waiting a year? He's certainly not going to get a lot of time behind the plate (listen to Theo in this article - http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/baseball/red_sox/view/20091013theo_epstein_well_talk_to_jason_varitek_options_abound_at_c/ ) and might limp into free agency in 2011 at a big question mark if he takes the money. But is a 37 year old catcher coming of two consecutive down years going to get a solid deal? Is he better off taking the money and retiring (hopefully as a bit player on a World Series winning team)?

These questions keep me up at night.

Doug Haslam said...

OK, here's my 37 cents:

Theo is good for a couple of surprise moves, and for screwing up SS, which means no A-Gonz. Also, Theo seems a little hot after losing (see comments on Dice-K).

So, My Lineup:

C: Victor E. Martinez (Kottaras backup? They may find a veteran to catch 50%. I'm sure there are some Molina Bros floating around)
1B: Youk/V-Mart
2B: Duh
SS: Theo's latest crush (he's not sold on Lowrie)
3B: Lowell, but phasing him out as he degenerates. Lots of rest as Youk gets time here
RF: Drew-- here to stay
CF Ells
LF: Bay-- I think they sign him

SP: Beckett
Lester
Dice
Buchhholz
About a dozen 35-45 year old prayers come to spring training

RP:
Paps
Bard (8th!)
Okey Dokey
Ram-Ram
Mystery Free Agent or two

MDC gets the boot. He's weak.

There you go--it's a lock

Tim Walker said...

Jim -- I love Varitek and wish more guys approached the game the way he does. But his days as an effective starting catcher are over, at least for the Red Sox. I can't imagine that he'd be better off to decline the $3 million option, because I doubt he'll ever see that much money in a new contract again.

Can he stick around a little longer? Sure. He still knows how to draw a walk and he's still good at calling a game. But his bat is no longer adequate (can't bat .225, can't slug .400), especially since we have to guess that it's still in decline, and he's by no means great at controlling the running game. So, sure, he could help a young catcher learn to manage a young pitching staff. He might hang around in the league for a while longer -- witness the end-of-career runs for Jason Kendall (though Varitek's body isn't as good) or Brad Ausmus (though Varitek's pure defense isn't as good).

I would LOVE to be proved wrong. But everything tells me he's done as a starter and impact player.

Tim Walker said...

Doug -- No DH?

leanneclc said...

Gal weighing in...

We were not going to beat the best pitching staff in the AL in a best of 5 series...we simply were not.

I wish it had lasted longer...but I knew before it began it would take a special effort on our part and a disaster on their part.

Tek is great...we all love him but we waited too long on him and now getting decent catching next year is going to be really tough...should have started that process 2 years ago, we're going to pay for that mistake for a couple of years.

Would love to see him in a mentoring/coaching role while playing very little...but not sure his ego could take that now.

Really like Doug's line up - and comments that go with it!

Doug Haslam said...

Oh right, DH-- details--

Papi is back, 34 HR/105 RBI.

And thinking back to what I said re: backup catcher, we may see Tek back on $3m player option, catching 50%. Best deal going

Derek Peplau said...

Sunday afternoon was an instant classic in terms of New England Sports Cringe Moments which I'll be wincing about all winter (time to start thinking about fermenting some Storer Family Egg Nogg to soften the blow, I think.)

I'm kind of surprised that the anger hasn't lingered past Monday with me. I think that's due primarily to the fact that deep down I didn't expect them to get past the Angels because I've always felt that this team was something of a paper tiger. Some of the flaws were too deep. As a result, their early exit (while done in a very frustrating fashion) wasn't a shock to me.

That said, the biggest x-factor for me in the off-season is whether Bay comes back. I don't *think* he'll go to New York just for the money. Doesn't seem to suit him. I'd be pretty disappointed (as we all would) if he put on the pinstripes. Maybe all that talk about being closer to home (Seattle) is just a preemptive negotiating tactic on his part and he would prefer to play here. I'm not taking that for granted though.

Papi probably doesn't hold enough trade value to deal him. Hopefully he can get his head together, rest up, and contribute next year. 34 HR's seems a bit optimistic though. Writing his name into the DH spot is a risk, but I think they take it.

I agree that the bionic Lowell will soldier on next year with reduced playing time meaning a platoon at the corners.

I'm still down on Dice-K. Viewed through the filter of what they paid to him and for him, I think he's a bust (especially if you factor entertainment value in). I hope I'm proven wrong, but I don't see him coming back next year tanned, rested, and ready to dominate. I predict 30 starts and 168 excruciating innings with an ERA just good enough to keep the more statistically-inclined from agreeing with me.

Roster looks something like this:

C: V-Mart (no clue on a backup)
1B: Youk/V-Mart
2B: Some dude
SS: Lowrie (will he work out? Even a blind squirrel (Theo when it comes to this position) gets a nut once in awhile)
3B: Lowell/Youk
RF: Mr. Glass (going nowhere except the hyperbaric chamber fortnightly or the DL)
CF Ellsbury
LF: ?????
DH: Ortiz (holding breath)

SP: Beckett (I predict pain for opposing hitters next year)
Lester (ditto)
Dice-K
Buchholz
[RT @DougH: About a dozen 35-45 year old prayers come to spring training]

RP:
Paps
Bard
Okajima
Ram-Ram
Rogues Gallery of free-agents

Jim Storer said...

Tim - No bubble burst - it's not like I'm in love with Varitek, just wondering what he'll choose for 2010. I think his value to the Red Sox is minimal at this point.. he might even be a bit of a distraction. Time to move in another direction, imho. Sign VMart to an extended contract and begin nurturing a minor league player for the long haul.

In the end, Varitek's a Boras client and I've seen crazy stuff from that man in the past. It wouldn't surprise me to see him get a GM somewhere to overpay for Varitek (something like 2-3 years for $4-5m). Will he go for a few extra $s (at the expense of extra years) or just go for the quick/easy money and hope for the best is 2011? I think the latter, which isn't in the best interests of the Red Sox (again, imho).

Dan said...

As my father asked after the game, "How long does Drew's contract go for?" Unfortunately, Dad its through 2011.

Its hard to root for a guy when you know he'll will be injured and has violent spikes and drops in production. Not to mention having the highest paid guy on the team hitting 8th. Also, can we stop talking about the $15 mill grand slam yet?

Unfortunately he's here to stay until we eat his salary in his last year and trade him for pitching. However, in the meantime I think we make some other changes to start gearing up for future runs.

Move Youk to 3rd, V-Mart to first and trade for soon-to-be MVP Joe Mauer. The Sox are going to make a play for him in free agency in two years anyway, so we might as well put a package of prospects together now. We don't have to leverage the future, but I do think we can land him with 2 pitching prospects and Lars Anderson or something of the sort. Or, we include Paps and a third team in that deal. Now we've got a great hitter, another team has a closer and Minny has prospects.


As for Lowell, Theo's clearly ok with moving him as they were going to last year if we landed Tex. The question is, would someone like Hank Blalock or Pedro Feliz be an upgrade in the lineup.

Tom said...

I've had some time to think about the Sox. I just can't help but think that we need a big bat in the lineup next to V-Mart. I know this team has put a premium on pitching, but Lowell and Ortiz are at the tail end of great careers. Drew is wildly inconsistent, and even V-Mart hit at an incredible, yet probably unsustainable clip with the Sox.

I also look at Aroldis Chapman, and wonder if he's worth the $50 million at minimum it will take to sign him.

I don't think Bowden or Bard are ready for full-time action. Keep Paps, find out what it costs for Adrian Gonzalez and weigh that against the cost of a Matt Holliday signing. Bay is a whole other issue. I'm not sure what his market value would be. If it goes past 5 years, $80 million, that'd be tough to compete with.

Also, check out some great Boston Red Sox stuff over at my client Steiner Sports. Thanks all. Here's looking at 2010!! Oh yeah, and at the Yankees falling short!

Aaron_Strout said...

Tom - GREAT comment. Not sure how feasible or not folks like Holliday and Gonzalez are but bring it! Thanks for the link.