Monday, December 07, 2009
Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.
Today's AL team is the Boston Red Sox and our guest is Dan from the Sox Blog, Red Sox Monster.
1. What was the Sox biggest issue in 2009 and how do they go about fixing it this offseason?
For the second season in a row, the Red Sox were among the Top 5 teams in the American League in most hitting statistics, including runs, doubles, walks, stolen bases, total bases, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. And for the second consecutive year, the team's offense fizzled in the postseason.
The answer to me is clear: The Red Sox need to get younger. Aging players like David Ortiz and Mike Lowell are still good enough that they accumulate statistics in a meaningful way, but they struggle in the postseason. Mike Lowell, for example, hit .290/.337/.474 with 17 home runs 119 games in 2009, a reasonable facsimile of the numbers he's posted over his career. Look more closely, and you'll see that he hit 2 for 10 in the postseason. It's tough to count on a guy who has given so much, but simply cannot play great baseball for a full season.
2. Jason Bay is now a free agent and there are not so insignificant whispers saying the Sox just might prefer Matt Holliday. Whom is shagging balls off the Monster come April 1st?
Several weeks ago, I really thought Bay had played his last game for the Red Sox. Everyone involved seemed so nonchalant about the process in the press, and Bay seemed committed to exploring his "full free agent value," a la Johnny Damon. Now, I'm not so sure. The Mariners appear to be interested, but do they really have the money to sink into both Bay and Chone Figgins? The bold move for the Red Sox would be to sign Matt Holliday instead, but I'd rather see them go with what they know works. Bay has his weaknesses, but he's a proven commodity.
3. Big Papi was miserable to start the year than looked like he returned to form than did basically nothing in the playoffs. Will 2010 be another season of decline for Ortiz?
David Ortiz is my favorite member of the Red Sox ever. I'll get that out there in the open to start. With that said, however, yes, 2010 will be another season of decline for Big Papi. That's not to say he won't have his moments. If he can start the season hitting reasonably well (and by that, I mean around .260 with occasional power), I think he'll finish somewhere around 25 home runs and 90 RBI. If he stalls coming out of the gate again, though, I'd expect the Sox to be much more aggressive about finding a replacement for him -- possibly even midseason.
4. Outside of a left fielder the Red Sox must have another big move in them this offseason. Halladay? King Felix? Adrian Gonzo? Something else?
I love Halladay as a pitcher, but I think the Red Sox acquiring him flies in the face of the conventional wisdom the team has shown in recent years. The Blue Jays are going to want Clay Buchholz and top prospects like Casey Kelly and Ryan Westmoreland, and it seems unlikely to me that the Red Sox are going to be willing to part with them for a 32-year-old starter who must also be signed to an expensive contract extension.
I also can't see why the Padres would want to trade Adrian Gonzalez now, or why the Mariners would be willing to cough up Felix Hernandez anymore, in light of their activity on the free agent market. I'm beginning to think the most likely scenario is that the Sox will sign Holliday or Bay, then pick up more spare parts with potential, like Rich Harden.
5. Do the Sox go with Jed Lowrie the entire year? Do they look to bring back Alex Gonzalez? Do they go elsewhere?
[They Go SCUTARO!]
6. What do you think the trade for Jeremy Hermida does for the Red Sox? Flexibility? Will he replace Drew?
Yes, Jeremy Hermida gives the Sox a backup plan if they lose out on Holliday and Bay. If that happens, I think the Sox will look to platoon Hermida with another righty-hitting outfielder with some pop (Chad Finn of the Boston Globe's favorite suggestion is Xavier Nady, which makes a lot of sense). Hermida has a track record for hitting righties pretty well (.275/.354/.443 over the last three years with 35 home runs in 1020 at-bats), but is terrible against lefties (.241/.319/.397 over that same three-year stretch in 340 at-bats).
7. Jason Varitek picked up his player option, as a Sox fan are you about ready for him to retire or are you ok with him as your backup catcher?
I'm more than fine with him as a backup catcher, as long as he doesn't become a distraction. That means that pitchers like Josh Beckett need to get used to the idea that he'll be throwing to Victor Martinez, and build on the repoire they began to develop at the tail end of 2009. If everyone involved can handle that, Varitek's encyclopedic knowledge of the game and professionalism should be a big help. He HAS caught four no-hitters, and all.
8. Which Red Sox prospect are you most looking forward to in 2010?
Does Daniel Bard still count as a prospect? If so, him. Having a pitcher like him, who can strike out virtually anyone in a short appearance simply by dialing up the velocity, is joy to behold as a fan. The other guy I'm really interested to watch this coming season is Casey Kelly. Does he pitch or play shortstop? How quickly will he mature into something of value at either spot? It's an interesting dilemma, although he appears so much farther along as a pitcher that I don't see how he doesn't end up spending all of his time on the mound sooner rather than later.
9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Red Sox get the boot?
In terms of value for dollars, Jason Varitek and his $3-million player option option clearly lead the pack. It's hard to see him playing much more than once a week most weeks.
10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, Red Sox Nation celebrates another World Series in _______.
I'll be honest: I think the Red Sox are in for a drought that'll last at least a few more seasons. Assuming (and hoping) that players like Westmoreland and Kelly turn into something great and young veterans like Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester stay healthy, I'll say 2013. And by then, the only 2009 everyday starters left on the team may well be Bay (if he re-signs), Pedroia and Youkilis (if he lasts that long). I'm not convinced that Red Sox management are sold on Jacoby Ellsbury spending 10 years in Boston just yet.