Posted on: December 30, 2009 12:42 pm
Jason Bay agreed in principle to a four year, $66 million contract with the New York Mets on Tuesday, officially ending his season-and-a-half stint with the Boston Red Sox. While GM Theo Epstein never explicitly stated that the Sox were out of the bidding war with Bay, the writing was on the wall. Epstein signed veteran outfielder Mike Cameron to a two-year deal, and used the money that would have gone to a long-term deal with Bay to sign right-hander John Lackey.
The Bay signing has wide-ranging implications for several clubs, but the actual move should raise some perplexing questions. Of the free agent hitters available at the beginning of this off-season, Bay was second best behind Matt Holliday. Bay wanted to stay in Boston and the Red Sox hoped to keep him. But Bay insisted on the prospect of a fifth year of any type of contract, and the Sox remained resolute against it. When the Mets came calling with a similar four-year deal to what the Sox were offering plus a vested option for a fifth, Bay accepted the deal that he had been looking for.
But once the Sox had signed Cameron and Lackey, they were effectively out of the discussions for Bay. The Sox are less than $10 million away from the luxury tax limit for the 2010 season, and re-signing Bay would have put them over that limit. The St. Louis Cardinals have focused solely on re-signing Holliday, thus removing one potential buyer for Bay. The Angels, Mariners and Yankees also went after other players and dropped out from the Bay sweepstakes as well.
In the end, it appears as though the Mets were bidding against themselves. Due to a rash of injuries last season that sidelined seemingly the better half of their lineup for extended amounts of time, the Mets were in desperate need of a power-hitting outfielder, and it showed in the negotiations with Bay.
One of the biggest snag-ups about Bay was his defense, which often went unnoticed in the strange dimensions of Fenway Park. With no designated hitter in the N.L., Bay will have to play the outfield until he is 35 or 36, a prospect that deterred the Sox, especially for $16 million a year. Bay also displayed an unfortunate inability to connect on off-speed pitches and was prone to very cold slumps.
The Mets’ new CitiField is quickly becoming known as a right-handed hitters nightmare. Just ask David Wright: his home run total dropped from 33 in 2008 (the last year in Shea Stadium) to 10 at the new CitiField. Bay has spent most of his career in the N.L., so there should not be a terrible layover while he tries to become acclimated with new ballparks and pitchers, but the Mets would be foolish to expect a home run total in the high 30s from Bay.
But at least the Mets got their man. For the Red Sox, the search is on for some spark in the middle of the lineup. They remain the number one buyers for third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is an excellent fielder with some offensive upside. But if Beltre is the answer, that means that Cameron and Florida Marlins cast-off Jeremy Hermida will patrol left field for the ’10 campaign. Combined with speedy Jacoby Ellsbury and the mediocre J.D. Drew, the Sox may field an outfield that has a legitimate shot to account for less than 30 home runs.
Other names are possibilities, such as ex-Yankee Xavier Nady, who would be a decent option in the outfield, but injuries limited him to only seven games in 2009. If the Sox were unwilling to go after Bay, they will definitely stay clear of Holliday, which means that any other move would have to come via a trade. And if the Sox were unwilling to unload the farm system to acquire Roy Halladay, then the same can likely be said for the Padres’ Adrian Gonzalez.
Tags: Adrian Beltre, Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, CitiField, David Wright, Fenway Park, Florida Marlins, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay, Jeremy Hermida, John Lackey, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Matt Holliday, Mike Cameron, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Roy Halladay, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Theo Epstein, Xavier Nady
Posted on: December 14, 2009 7:04 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2009 7:06 pm
Tags: A.J. Burnett, Aroldis Chapman, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Cliff Lee, Curtis Granderson, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, GM Meetings, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Matt Holliday, Mike Lowell, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, Scott Boras, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Theo Epstein, Tim Wakefield, Toronto Blue Jays
Posted on: December 8, 2009 3:22 pm
The Boston Red Sox have been cursed to find a consistent and reliable shortstop ever since trading Nomar Garciaparra in the middle of the 2004 season.
Scratch one more player off of list of possibilities at the middle infield position.
The Red Sox announced yesterday that Casey Kelly, who split last season between the mound and the infield, will focus on being a starter for the remainder of his career. GM Theo Epstein made the announcement at this year's general manager meetings in Indianapolis.
Kelly is heralded as the top prospect in the Red Sox farm system and was involved in the heaviest of trade rumors between the Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays for ace pitcher Roy Halladay. Epstein emphasized that Kelly is not on the trading block.
Kelly went 6-1 with a sparkling 1.12 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 48 innings during his time at Greenville in the second half of last season. Greenville is one of Sox single-A affliates (considered as A++, i.e. a step above A+ Salem).
It was also announced that Kelly will be offered an invitation to Spring Training to get him acclimated to the feel of big league pitching. Epstein said that they feel that Kelly has an excellent possibility of pitching in the "upper minors" this season, meaning making it at least to double-A Portland and possibily triple-A Patwucket.
Kelly will be only 20 years old when he reports to Fort Myers in February. The decision of which position to play, according to Epstein, was ultimately left up to Kelly, who called the GM earlier this week with his decision. While the Sox have been looking for a long-term option at shortstop, Kelly's decision was not altogether suprising. While compiling excellent pitching statistics, Kelly batted only .136 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 136 at-bats in the minors last year.
Posted on: November 25, 2009 6:54 pm
The holiday season may be coming early for Red Sox Nation.
Or maybe, I should be saying: the Halladay season is coming early. The reports came out Tuesday from the New York Daily News that the Boston Red Sox were in strong pursuit of Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. The Daliy News stated that the Sox were "in a full court press" to get a deal done by the start of the winter meetings of baseball's general managers, which is set to begin on December 7th.
ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes reported similar news today, but also stated that if trade talks started heating up between the Sox and Blue Jays, then they should expect other suitors to be close on the Sox's heels.
Typically teams pull off deals including players of Halladay's stature during the regular season, as GM's begin to loose sleep on the prospect of loosing their franchise player to free agency without any compensation. Once July rolls around, that's when the phone calls usually start being picked up.
But Halladay's situation is different. First of all, the Blue Jays fired their GM a few months ago. J.P. Ricciardi set the price tag extremely high for one of the game's best picture when last year's deadline came around and stuck to his guns and refused to back down. Naturally, given Halladay's eligibility for free agency following the 2010 season, teams were unwilling to unload the farm system for roughly 45 starts.
New Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has a different mindset and different options. He could take a few seasons to revamp the team under a new outlook and new management. It should be clear to him, however, that it is extremely unlikly that Halladay will re-sign with the Blue Jays at any point. Any amount of money that Anthopoulos can offer will easily be matched or topped by the Red Sox and New York Yankees with a much better prospect of postseasons appearences.
It is likely that, given the fact that Halladay now has only one season before free agency, Anthopoulos will be seeking less than what Ricciardi was looking for. If the Red Sox are the favorites in the sweepstakes right now, they should figure on being asked to trade Clay Buchholz and another top tier prospect. This is still a step price, but it is far from what Ricciardi was asking for, which was Buchholz, Daniel Bard, and two top tier prospects, one pitching and the other being an offensive player.
But, the Red Sox also are benefitting from the Yankees having won a World Series and already having two top tier starters. Of course, the Yankees will throw themselves in the mix to drive up the price for the Sox, but they will not be making a legitimate strong move for Halladay. Their minor league depth is not as strong as the Sox, and they would not give up what the Sox are going to without being in a position to re-sign him. That would add another $20 million plus to an already staggering payroll.
The Sox are of course no mean spenders, but their payroll was less than usual last year compared to teams such as the Detriot Tigers and New York Mets, both of whom missed out on the playoffs. Adding Halladay would give the Sox the best rotation in the A.L. East, and perhaps in all of baseball, behind Halladay, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester leading the way.
The Sox should put themselves in a position that the Mets did a few seasons ago with Johan Santana. Get your man but only if the long term contract is all but guaranteed. Knowing Theo Epstein, he will not part with long term projects like Buchholz unless he gets him man exactly how he wants him - no where near free agency.
Posted on: July 24, 2009 12:04 pm
Roy Halladay is on the trading block, and there are only about 29 teams who would be interested in his service.
If the Red Sox swung a deal for arguably the best pitcher in baseball, they would be able to march out Halladay, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester in a playoff series, which is enough to make any opposing manager wish they weren’t in the playoffs.
The problem with trading for the best pitcher in baseball is that it will come at no easy price. The Red Sox and GM Theo Epstein are reluctant to part with prized pieces of the minor league system, and none more so than Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz has been nothing short of remarkable in the minor leagues this season, compiling a 7-2 record with a 2.06 ERA. He was the leading vote getter among all minor league players for the Triple-A All-Star game and was tabbed to start before getting called up to the big leagues.
The Sox have spent a great deal of time and effort on Buchholz, priming him for what hopes to be a long and productive major league career. Naturally, they do not want another team, especially a fellow A.L. East team, to reap the benefits of the work that they put in for him.
Ignoring the fact that Buchholz will never be Roy Halladay and the Sox should go offer him up for Halladay, it is possible to put together a deal without Buchholz. It will still be painful, as several key contributors would have to be a part of the trade.
If I am Theo Epstein, and I am told that if I trade Buchholz then I will be fired and hung out by my entrails over Gate A on Yawkee Way for all of Red Sox Nation to throw overpriced sausage and pepper sandwiches at me, then I can manufacture a New Deal.
The Jays want at least one starter in return. If it is not Buchholz, then the next best piece in the Sox farm system is Michael Bowden. Can we make a trade and avoid both top prospects all together? Let’s try.
Any trade for Halladay will include players who can make an immediate impact as well as future prospects. For players who can make an impact now would be: Justin Masterson, Daniel Bard and Jed Lowrie. For future prospects: Lars Anderson and Casey Kelly.
The Jays, understandably, want a starter in return. Scouts see Masterson as a starter who needs regular rest. The Sox use him in the bullpen based on their needs, but he has shown that he can be stretched out. Kelly also fills the need for a starter and has been very impressive in the minors.
Bard gives the Jays a shut-down guy out of the bullpen, and a potential future closer. Bard is the player that hurts the most to see go in this scenario, but the Sox bullpen was considered to be the best in baseball before Bard was called up.
Before Sox fans say that the bullpen takes a terrible hit, remember that Bard’s replacement in Pawtucket is Fernando Carbrera who is 17-for-17 in save opportunities with a 1.73 ERA, 40 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched and a .193 opponent batting average. The Sox also have Junichi Tazawa, who is a great young Japanese prospect.
Lowrie’s impact on the team since his call-up last year was more out of need rather than desire. He plays excellent defense, but is below average as a hitter. He was injured, and may simply be slumping this season, but Lowrie was never viewed by the organization as the shortstop of the future. The Jays reportedly want a shortstop/middle infielder who can play defense. Of course, Nick Green’s play has certainly been solid enough so that the Sox are not loosing much if Green is officially the everyday shortstop.
As for Anderson, there is not much room for him in Boston. Scouts tout him as an excellent hitter who uses all fields, but still learning defensively. In Boston, the Sox have their first baseman in Kevin Youkilis, although some have said that Youkilis will move back over to third when Mike Lowell’s ailing joints give out and Anderson would take over at first.
The Sox would love to have Anderson mature into an excellent hitter, but he is a piece that they see as possible trade bait. They will certainly not hesitate to trade him for a player like Halladay.
Masterson, Bard, Lowrie, Anderson and Kelly for Halladay. It gives the Jays exactly what they are looking for position-wise. Talent-wise, it does not have the same big names like Buchholz and Bowden, but the Jays get a great core of young players to compliment the ones they have. (They can also have Brad Penny if they want him, too).
Tell me what you think – is this plausible?
Tags: Boston Red Sox, Brad Penny, Casey Kelly, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Fernando Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Junichi Tazawa, Justin Masterson, Kevin Youkilis, Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, Mike Lowell, Nick Green, Pawtucket Red Sox, Roy Halladay, Theo Epstein, Toronto Blue Jays
Posted on: July 24, 2009 11:20 am
It is not earth-shattering news to any baseball fan that the Toronto Blue Jays are actively shopping their ace and arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay.
Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi put his ace on the trading block last month in hopes of obtaining something in return for Halladay after his contract runs out following the 2010 season. Halladay figures to have at least the same market value as CC Sabathia, who signed with the New York Yankees this past off-season for $161 million.
Sabathia is a few years younger than Halladay, but matches up well in terms of durability and effectiveness. Ricciardi knows that the Blue Jays have a better chance of winning the World Series this year and next than they do at offering enough money to re-sign Halladay.
In essence, if Ricciardi is looking down the line to his 2010 roster, he has already erased “Doc” from the list.
So, it is no wonder that the Jays should try to get something for him. Unfortunately for the other 29 teams in baseball, “something” seems about as valuable as the Hope diamond.
We cannot blame Ricciardi for not wanting to be undersold for Halladay, the premier starter in the A.L. and the face of the Jays franchise. But, Ricciardi is only kidding himself if he keeps this act up.
Here’s why: From the Jays perspective, you act as if Halladay is gone following the 2010. Halladay would be foolish if he did not test the waters of free agency, unless with his no-trade clause he somehow only agrees to a trade to a team that also guarantees him a contract ala Johan Santana and the Mets.
If that is not the case, then any team that acquires him does so with the understanding that the chance is excellent that Halladay will not be there longer than a year and a half.
But, if Ricciardi continues to hold out for one team to unload their farm system for Halladay and doesn’t move him before next Friday, then Halladay’s value takes a critical hit.
It would be unlikely for Halladay to be traded following next Friday’s deadline. If we are then to steal a page from Brett Favre’s book and repeat this song-and-dance next July, then teams are going to shop for Halladay under the impression that he will only be with the club for the rest of the 2010 season, or about 2-3 months.
If this happens, Riccardi will not be able to demand the type of prospects that he is now, because teams can acquire Halladay after the season is over without giving up prospects.
While pundits will say that a Halladay deal is unlikely, it is really in the Jays best interest to trade him now.
Ricciardi, however, may be playing a clever game. By stating in several public appearances that they have not been “wowed” by any offers and that a trade is unlikely, Ricciardi comes out a winner all the way around.
At least coming from the Jays fans that I have about this issue, they are very torn, and do not want to see Halladay go. But, they know that it is unlikely that Halladay will re-sign to a significant hometown discount.
So by playing coy, Ricciardi can make it seem as though he was open to restocking the farm system by moving Halladay, while retaining him and keeping the fan base intact. If a team does approach him (and I’m sure that more are than he’s letting on), he can make it seem as if the offer was superb and far outstripped any he had heard previously.
Again, Halladay’s value is declining with every passing day, leaving me to believe that he will be moved, but not until next Friday.
Posted on: April 30, 2008 10:13 am
The Red Sox got another brilliant performance by their starting pitcher, and got just enough offense to win it in dramatic wall-off style. Some thoughts on the game:
Jon Lester kept the streak of very impressive recent starts by Red Sox starters. Lester was incredibly effective and efficient from the first inning on, limiting the number of pitches thrown and attacking the strike zone. In effect, he did with his pitches what the Sox have been expecting of him. Obviously, the Sox do not expect eight innings of one-hit, shut-out ball, but there is no reason why opposing left-handed batters should be batting .333 against Lester, as they were at the prior to the start of the game. A few games ago, we saw a similarly dominating performance by Clay Buchholz, but Lester’s pitching style is much different from Buchholz. Buchholz has to, and did during his last start, rely on his off-speed pitches to get batters to reach. Lester has the benefit of a very lively fastball, and he used it very effectively tonight by jamming both righties and lefties inside early in the count, and using a good moving curveball and cut-fastball. He stayed away from his change-up all night, a pitch that had been getting him into trouble in recent starts. Although there were not many base-runners all night, he did a much better job keeping his composure when someone did reach. No Blue Jay had made it to second base through the first eight innings, which speaks to the fact that his ability to work with runners on base has improved.
Lester did not return in the ninth inning, even though he was only at 98 pitches, because the Sox likely wanted Lester to feel good about the game, even though he was not leading. Since the Sox have lost five straight games, Jonathan Papelbon has had little work as a closer, so the Sox also wanted to give him some work. Since the Sox were playing at home, if the game goes into extra innings, the only way the Sox can win is via the “walk-off,” and there would be no save opportunity. (As an interesting tidbit, Papelbon had more strikeouts (18) entering the game than all but one of the Yankees pitchers, and that would be Chien-Ming Wang, who has pitched in nearly four times as many innings.) As much as the Sox have been concerned about Papelbon’s shoulder and trying to limit him over-working, the Sox also have to be conscious when he goes an extended amount of time without pitching. For relievers, especially someone who throws as hard as he does, going a long time without pitching can sometimes cause more stress on the arm. As it happens, he showed little signs of rust, and upped his strikeout total by two more.
For what seems like an increasingly bad occurrence, the Sox once again did nearly nothing against an opposing pitcher, and almost wasted another brilliant start. True, Roy Halladay is much more accomplished than James Shields and Matt Garza, and he did pitch another gem tonight, but the Sox offense has been downright non-existent for the past week. After having a day off yesterday, their first in three weeks, the Sox offense looked just as tired and anemic as they did against the Rays. The Sox team batting average after the Rangers series was an astonishing .303, but dipped to .288 prior to the start of the Blue Jays series, and since they managed only a few hits tonight, the average dropped even further. It took the Sox until the ninth inning to manage to get two runners on base at the same time, and that was still with two outs. Although they did get timely hitting in the ninth, Halladay was well over 100 pitches, and even with the win, the Sox have to put something together while their starter is still on the mound.
Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game as the Sox try to build some momentum on tonight’s win. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)