Tagged: Victor Martinez

The Beantown Status Report

Papelbon

It’s only May 8th, but the Boston Red Sox are 7.5 games back on the
division leading Tampa Bay Rays, and 6.0 games back on the wild card
leading New York Yankees. With a record of 15-15 (and potentially 15-16 if
the rain slows down today and the Yanks hold on to win), and having only been
above .500 for two days in the first month and a bit, it’s pretty obvious to everyone in
the AL East that if the Sox want to compete, something drastic has to happen – and it
has to happen soon, or I might just start watching Major League Soccer instead.

Drew

You can argue that the Red Sox are starting to put it together. Having swept the
Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers with strong bats and strong
pitching. J.D. Drew, Victor Martinez, and Adrian Beltre seem
to be coming together at the plate. Even David Ortiz has been smacking a
couple out of the park in the last week. Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester,
and John Lackey have seemingly started to come together. Daisuke
Matsuzaka
is back from the DL and has shown signs of strength and weakness,
and even Josh Beckett had a great start to his game against the Yankees
last night, at least until he fell apart. There are signs of light at the end of the tunnel.

Then again, they were swept by the Rays at home over a four game series. They
were even swept by the Baltimore Orioles in Fenway South, and are 2-4
against a team that has been amongst the worst in baseball not just this year, but for
a long …. long time – a team the Sox have beaten 15-17 times per season almost
every year in recent history.

Scutaro

Offense isn’t necessarily a problem. During the off-season, talk was about a
dominant pitching staff and defense, with a relatively weak offense. So far, it’s been
the other way around. The offense has given it’s fans an average of about 5 runs a
game. In the mean time, the pitching staff has an ERA of 4.68, with 13 un-earned
runs crossing the plate. Furthermore, The Red Sox are 1-5 in 6 games they sent to
extras.

But why is everyone in Red Sox Nation worried about the future outcome of this
season? Yes, the Rays are 22-7. The Yankees are 20-8. The Blue Jays are 18-13,
2.5 ahead of Boston for third place in the division. But look on the bright side – it’s
only May 8th. Jacoby Ellsbury is injured, as is Mike Cameron. The
lineup is being shuffled continually. The pitching staff needs to find their groove. It
will happen. Eventually everything will come together and they’ll start to win again.
Beckett, Lester, and Lackey are all proven aces. Buchholz and Dice-K are strong,
strong pitchers. Beltre will find his niche at the hot corner. Ellsbury will come back
and start causing hell at the top of the lineup. The 2010 Boston Red Sox are better
than the 85-win team they appear to be at the moment.

Ellsbury

Let’s put this season in perspective. This time last year, the Yankees were 14-15,
4.5 games back of the leading Red Sox. But starting on the 13th of May, they won 9
in a row, ultimately ending with a 103-59 season and a World Series ring. Similarly,
the Red Sox started the 2009 season with a record of 2-6, and then went on a
13-game winning streak for a final record of 95-67 and a Wild Card championship. It
can still come together. There’s still time, but this is what needs to happen:

Thumbnail image for Adrian Beltre.JPG

  • Stop losing against the Yankees and Rays – In 8 games against these
    two teams, they’re 1-7 … all at Fenway, where they seemingly can’t lose against
    any other team as long as they show up for the game.
  • Start Pitching Like You Mean It – The aces on the mound will come
    together and start throwing 7+ innings per game. They’re too good for it to not
    happen. Buchholz and Dice-K will add a good compliment to the three J’s, and
    the bullpen will come back together, especially when Bonser comes back to put a
    cap on his great spring.
  • Improve Defense – Beltre has 7 errors so far this season (only 14 for
    him through all of last season), so he needs to improve if we have a chance of
    winning. But he’s not the only problem. Martinez needs to improve his throw to
    second to intimidate potential thieves (although the pitchers need to help). The
    offense needs to get healthy once again and do their thing.
  • Get Back Ellsbury – Jacoby is well-known as one of the best lead-off
    hitters in the game. Guaranteed to steal bases, walk, and hit at a .300+ clip, he’s
    essential to a good Sox team (not that Scutaro isn’t doing a great job in his
    absence). Darnell McDonald, Jonathan Van Every, Bill
    Hall
    , and Jeremy Hermida are doing a good job in the absence of
    Ellsbury and Cameron, but you just can’t replace those two players in any
    way.

Do that, and we’ll be fine. Besides, the Yanks will fall, right? 🙂 Burnett can’t go two
seasons without an injury, and Vasquez will be a beautiful Yanks disappointment this
year.

At least one can hope, right?

The Money Debate

Money

Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.

– Benjamin Franklin

I’m sick and tired of all this arguing, so I’m going to set everyone straight, right here,
right now. Ever since last off-season when the Yankees committed $423.5MM to
three players, Red Sox Nation has continuously complained about the Yankees
“buying a World Series”, followed by Yankee Nation complaining about those
accusations. Before you know it, the steroid issue comes up, you start hearing about
the ‘good ol’ days’ before any of us were born, the owners and GM’s get shot at while
we all know they’re doing a great job, blood gets spilled, tears fall, Babe Ruth turns in
his grave, a baby heard crying in the distance. It’s messy, to say the least – and it
makes us all look like idiots. If we’re complaining about each other spending or not
spending, what does the rest of the fan base for the 28 other teams think of our poor
behavior? It can’t be good.

Yankees

To all you Yankee fans, stop complaining about the unfortunate Red Sox souls. We
don’t know how it feels to be part of a dynasty … we’re bitter. Please, try to ignore
us. But don’t think you guys are getting off scott free. Stop complaining about
Lackey and Halladay “selling out”, among others. Sabathia didn’t sell out? How
about Texeira? Does A-Rod need $275MM to survive? You’re only complaining
about Lackey and Halladay because you didn’t get the chance to sign them. Your
team is the only team in the majors over the last year that were over the $170MM
luxury cap barrier. The closest team to that mark were the Mets at $139MM. Also,
look at the highest-garnished contracts in the history of the game. The top 5 are all
Yankees (even though A-Rod’s 2001-10 contract wasn’t signed with Cashman, he
fronted the majority of the bill). If the Yankee players aren’t selling out, then no one
is. Not that I’m complaining. If you’ve got the money to spend, you might as well
spend it. As for the players, if you can squeeze a large contract out of ownership,
then kudos to you.

Red Sox

Now, to Red Sox Nation: We’ve never had the right to complain about Yankee
spending habits. Looking back at the highest garnished contracts in MLB history, #6
happens to belong to Manny Ramirez, which the Sox paid a substantial portion of.
As for our payroll, it has been consistently over $100MM/year since 2004. The
World Series championship team in 2007 was paid a total of $143MM. That’s hardly
a bargain price. You may complain about John Henry and Theo Epstein being frugal
with the money they spend and the agents they sign, but since John Henry and Theo
Epstein came to town in 2002, they’ve been on a shopping spree that’s never really
ended.

You don’t believe me? Take a look at the Yankee signings from 2008 until now:

Alex Rodriguez

2008:

  • Alex Rodriguez – $275MM / 10 Years
  • Jorge Posada – $52.4MM / 4 Years
  • Mariano Rivera – $45MM / 3 Years
  • Robinson Cano – $30MM / 4 Years

Total money dedicated in 2008: $402.4MM.

2009:

  • Mark Teixeira – $180MM / 8 Years
  • C.C. Sabathia – $161MM / 7 Years
  • A.J. Burnett – $82.5MM / 5 Years
  • Damaso Marte – $12MM / 3 Years

Mark Teixeira

Total money dedicated in 2009: $435.5MM. Why did we only start
seriously complaining about the money this year? Maybe it’s because they won the
‘Series. Maybe it’s because they outbid us for Teixeira. Maybe it’s just sour grapes.

2010:

  • Curtis Granderson – $30.25MM – 3 Years (remainder of contract)
  • Nick Johnson – $12MM – 1 Year
  • Andy Pettitte – $11.75MM – 1 Year

Total money dedicated so far in 2010: $54MM.

Total dedicated over the last three years – $891.9MM.

Now, for the Red Sox spending over the last couple years:

Daisuke Matsuzaka

2007:

  • J.D. Drew – $70MM / 5 Years
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka – $52MM / 6 Years
  • David Ortiz – $52MM / 4 Years
  • Matsuzaka Blind Bid – $51.1MM
  • Josh Beckett – $30MM / 3 Years

Total money dedicated in 2007: $255.1MM.

2008/2009:

  • Kevin Youkilis – $41.125MM / 4 Years
  • Dustin Pedroia – $40.5MM / 6 Years
  • Mike Lowell – $37.5MM / 3 Years
  • Jon Lester – $30MM / 5 Years
  • Jason Varitek – $8MM / 2 Years
  • Jonathan Papelbon – $6.25MM / 1 Year

John Lackey

Total money dedicated in 2008 & 2009: $181.025MM.

2010:

  • John Lackey – $82.5MM – 5 Years
  • Mike Cameron – $15.5MM – 2 Years
  • Marco Scutaro – $12.5MM – 2 Years
  • Victor Martinez – $7.7MM – 1 Year

Total money dedicated so far in 2010: $118.2MM.

Total dedicated over the last four years – $554.325MM.

Okay, sure. The Red Sox have spent significantly less over the last 4 years than the
Yankees have spent over the last 3, but those numbers are all relative. Upon
examination of those numbers, you see that most of the Yankee contracts are
long-term whereas a majority of the Red Sox contracts are of a shorter length. As a
good example of that, the Red Sox have about $20MM locked up in 2013, while the
Yankees have around $95MM locked up in 2013. In the near future, the Yankees
have players locked up for the long-haul, while Epstein will have to deal with players
leaving in the next couple years. The most obvious at the moment is the potential
losses of Varitek, Ortiz, Beckett, Martinez and Lowell. The Yankees on the other
hand only need worry about big names Jeter and Rivera. The Red Sox are going to
be the second team this year, along with the Yankees, that will either exceed or
seriously flirt with the luxury tax barrier of $170MM. What are we complaining about?

Terry Francona

Everything in baseball is relative, folks. Now, don’t get me wrong … Last year’s
Yankees were a team that my 2 year-old niece could have managed to a World
Series trophy (not that I’m demeaning Girardi as a manager. He did a great job).
You can’t just buy a World Series, or else more managers would be doing it.
You still have to survive the 162-day injury-plagued season to be able to contend.
The money doesn’t hurt, though.

Red Sox Nation, just be lucky you’re fans of a team that has money, and isn’t afraid
to spent it when the chips are on the table.

Lowell’s Thumb a Blessing in Disguise

Thumb Injury

Today’s physical in Arlington came up with a radial collateral ligament
tear
in Mike Lowell‘s right thumb. Some Red Sox fans feel this is a
bad situation, whereas others are jumping for joy now that Lowell is sticking around
in Boston. He is scheduled for surgery just after Christmas, and should be out for
6-8 weeks. In other words, he should be healthy for Spring Training, and while his
throwing programs may be halted, the rest of his training program should be able to
go on as per usual, preventing him from a long recovery. Personally, I see this as a
blessing in disguise, and this is my reasoning:

  1. Lowell comes back in Spring Training and gets traded some time into the
    year
    : If this happens, either we can make the trade for Max
    Ramirez
    again, as double jeopardy doesn’t apply in baseball, or Epstein
    could look to another team that needs a decent DH. His value should be higher if
    Boston will still front the bill and he has proven himself to be healthy. If Max
    Ramirez was indeed a potential trading piece for Adrian Gonzalez,
    Epstein will find another way to get the prospect, or he will rearrange his
    bargaining chips and find another way to Gonzalez.
  2. Mike Lowell

  3. Lowell comes back in Spring Training and stays with Boston for the entirety
    of the year, playing 3B
    : If this happens, Boston keeps the offensive
    power of Lowell, while sacrificing the speed he lost last year, and taking a risk with
    his rumored decrease in defensive ability (which could become increasingly more
    true if his hip gets any worse). With the increased defense on the left side thanks
    to Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron/Jacoby Ellsbury, it
    shouldn’t be TOO much of a problem for the team. Who knows, maybe he’ll pull
    the hidden ball trick out of his hat a couple times this season to make up for his
    lack of physical ability (he’s
    done it twice before
    , afterall).
  4. Lowell proves to be a liability in the field and sits on the bench: If
    this happens, either Casey Kotchman becomes an everyday starter at
    first and Lowell sits on the bench, or Epstein has to work out a trade for a decent
    corner infielder during the season. The best way to account for this is to find said
    corner infielder before the beginning of the season and make Lowell work for a
    starting spot. However, I’m happy with Kotchman as a defensive replacement if
    Lowell doesn’t work out, as his strong defense will solidify the infield.
  5. Lowell turns into a part-time player in the field: If this occurs,
    Lowell would play fewer games, meaning Kevin Youkilis would play 3B
    on occasion while either Kotchman or Victor Martinez would find more
    time at 1B, potentially meaning Jason Varitek could find more time behind
    the plate. While I don’t feel Varitek should be behind the plate any more than
    necessary, it’s not a terrible alternative if Lowell can’t play everyday anymore.
    Lowell could also be used off the bench as a pinch hitter in crucial situations,
    which we all know he tends to thrive in.
  6. Mike Lowell

  7. Lowell platoons with David Ortiz as the DH: It was proven
    last year that Ortiz sometimes has trouble with quality pitching nowadays, so why
    not sit Lowell on the bench and use him against certain starters, or LH pitchers?
    Platooning these two players gives you the most optimal DH situation every game,
    and leaves a power hitter on the bench in case you need that bat later on in a
    game. Also, with Lowell being a DH, you get the capability of platooning him at 3B
    whenever someone else needs a day off, while keeping him fresh as well.

In my mind, the only bad thing that can come from this is that you’re stick with a $12
Million man sitting on your bench and/or eating up a spot on your 25-Man Roster that
could be used for another arm in the bullpen or a more capable utility fielder.
Although, the 25-Man Roster can be altered throughout the season, and others will
almost definitely get injured, so it’s not really an issue.

As you can see, it’s win-win for everyone in Red Sox Nation.

Mike Lowell

Looking to 2011

With the signing of John Lackey and (potentially) Mike Cameron, I
can’t help but look to the future. Epstein always said he was building for the future,
and this is what it looks like for 2010:

With Adrian Gonzalez:

  1. CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  3. C – Victor Martinez
  4. 1B – Adrian Gonzalez
  5. 3B – Kevin Youkilis
  6. DH – David Ortiz
  7. RF – J.D. Drew
  8. LF – Mike Cameron/Jeremy Hermida
  9. SS – Marco Scutaro

Without Adrian Gonzalez:

  1. CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  3. C – Victor Martinez
  4. 1/3B – Kevin Youkilis
  5. DH – David Ortiz
  6. RF – J.D. Drew
  7. LF Mike Cameron/Jeremy Hermida
  8. 1/3B – Casey Kotchman (Adrian Beltre)
  9. SS – Marco Scutaro

That lineup looks significantly more powerful with Adrian Gonzalez in there. If
Adrian Beltre signs instead, you’re looking at something slightly different.
Either way, even if you keep it the way it is now, you’re looking at a team that can
support the superior pitching staff. World Series caliber? Maybe not. Our offense
probably can’t beat that of the Phillies or the Yankees, but when all is said and done,
adding Adrian Gonzalez means a Boston team that’s somewhat equal (on paper,
statistically, anyway) to the offensive numbers of the Yankee collective. Even if
Epstein deals Jacoby Ellsbury to San Diego with Clay Buchholz,
you’ve got a decent outfield of Drew/Hermida/Cameron, and if you add someone like
Xavier Nady to that mix, you’re looking at a great team with Adrian Gonzalez
spearheading it. Welcome to the playoffs.

Now, a look at the pitching staff.

With Adrian Gonzalez:

  1. SP – Josh Beckett
  2. SP – John Lackey
  3. SP – Jon Lester
  4. SP – Daisuke Matsuzaka
  5. SP – Tim Wakefield
  6. RP – Hideki Okajima
  7. RP – Ramon Ramirez
  8. RP – Ramon Ramirez (this is going to be a confusing year … )
  9. RP – Manny Delcarman
  10. RP – Boof Bonser (Or maybe Michael Bowden?)
  11. RP – Daniel Bard
  12. CL – Jonathan Papelbon

Without Adrian around you essentially have the same setup, except you see
Buchholz in the rotation and probably Wakefield in the ‘pen. Either way, arguably the
best staff in baseball. Where the bullpen lacks in depth, the starting rotation makes
up for in pure number of Aces. Three Number 1 guys and 2 interesting additions in
the back of the rotation equals quality starts more often than not, and a solid rotation
to help the relatively lacking offense.

Maybe 2010 is still the bridge year, though. It’s hard to imagine this when you add
over $30 Million in payroll, but hear me out.

Joe Mauer

The 2010 Free Agent market includes the likes of Joe Mauer, Carl
Crawford
, Cliff Lee (as he likely won’t sign an extension with Seattle),
and Brandon Webb. Epstein always preferred the 2010 market over the
2009 market, and he always said he was building up for it.

Brandon Webb

With Ortiz’s $13 Million coming off the books along with Victor Martinez’s $7.1 Million,
Beckett’s $12 Million and Varitek’s $3 Million, not to mention $19.5 Million owed to
Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo, and Billy Wagner, you’re looking at significant
money coming off the payroll.

In 2010, if you add Adrian Gonzalez, you’re
looking at a team payroll of about $150 Million. Upon the completion
of the season, it will drop to about $83 Million.

So what do you do in the 2010 offseason? You break the bank. You give contract
extensions to Beckett (who’s going to want a Lackey-like deal) and Martinez (who’s
going to want around $10 Million a year). After letting Ortiz and Varitek go, you go
out and sign Mauer (if you can pry him from Minnesota and the Yanks), Crawford (or
you trade for him during the 2010 season and sign him longterm), and either Lee
(who will want a Sabathia-like Contract) or Webb (who will want Lackey-like
terms).

Let’s run the figures again. 2011, pending all those moves, would bring the payroll
back up to between $160-$170 Million. Expensive, but look at that
potential Roster:

  1. SP – Cliff Lee (or Brandon Webb)
  2. SP – Josh Beckett
  3. SP – John Lackey
  4. SP – Jon Lester
  5. SP – Daisuke Matsuzaka
  6. CL – Jonathan Papelbon
  7. C – Joe Mauer
  8. 1B – Adrian Gonzalez
  9. 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  10. SS – Marco Scutaro
  11. 3B – Kevin Youkilis
  12. LF – Carl Crawford
  13. CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
  14. RF – J.D. Drew
  15. DH – Victor Martinez (keeps him fresh, but can give Mauer days off
    behind the plate without the team losing offense)
  16. RP – Daniel Bard
  17. RP – Tim Wakefield
  18. RP – Hideki Okajima
  19. RP – Manny Delcarman
  20. RP – Junichi Tazawa
  21. BC – Mark Wagner (Mostly a security policy in case the in-game
    catcher gets injured, so the DH doesn’t have to go behind the plate, making
    the pitcher have to hit)
  22. IF – Jose Iglesias (or Jed Lowrie if Iglesias isn’t ready for the
    bigs)
  23. IF – (Someone who can back up Youkilis at third)
  24. OF – Mike Cameron
  25. (Utility Fielder)

For $165 Million, if that can’t win a World Series, nothing can.

2007 World Series

2010 Lineup Full of Nobodies

  1. CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  3. C – Victor Martinez
  4. 3B – Kevin Youkilis
  5. DH – David Ortiz
  6. RF – J.D. Drew
  7. LF – Jeremy Hermida
  8. 1B – Casey Kotchman
  9. SS – Marco Scutaro

Looks a little weak, doesn’t it? No more Jason Bay, no more Mike
Lowell
. No more pop from the right side. Correction – no more pop. Period.
Good luck with Matt Holliday and Adrian Beltre, Theo … we all know
how well you work with Borasshole. Might as well just give up on both of those
players and treat this as the true bridge year you were talking about, because it
looks like Jeremy Hermida and Casey Kotchman are going to be our
starting fielders on opening day. Maybe if you’ve got some horseshoes up your ***
you’ll have an outside chance of competing for the Wild Card, but I wouldn’t count my
chickens.

Not to mention you blew it with Rich Harden – he offers the idea of playing on
a one year contract, and you let him go to Texas? You better have something big up
your sleeve coming after this Mike Lowell deal, or my head might explode.

Winter Meetings Another ‘Sox Bust?

David Ortiz

The Winter Meetings have hit the half-way point – one blockbuster three-way trade is
all but signed, sealed, and delivered, and it looks as if the Yankees are going to steal
the show in Indy just like they did in Vegas the year before. The deal involving
Curtis Granderson to the Bronx adds a lot of intrigue to the meetings,
and most likely leaves Red Sox fans hoping for some form of retaliation.

Rewind to this time last year, where the Yankees took center stage by signing the two
biggest arms on the market in C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. That
later led to another Red Sox disappointment when another player went the way of
A-Rod after nearing a deal with Beantown but instead siding with the Yankees when
all was said and done – Mark Texeira. Three big deals for the Yankees, and
nothing to show for the Red Sox’s presence in the off-season accept two gambles in
the form of Brad Penny and John Smoltz. Naturally, the Sox deals
failed while the new Yankees thrived, all the way to a 27th championship. The Sox
eventually added Victor Martinez, but one late addition hardly matches two
quality pitchers and one of the best bats in the league.

Curtis Granderson

Enter 2009. The Yankees add Granderson, while the Red Sox brass are seemingly
sleeping in their deluxe suite, enjoying their World Series dreams. For two teams
that were relatively equal for the majority of the last decade, one big deal for a
decent bat hardly counter-acts 4 huge deals with high-impact players over two
years. The Yankees have quickly changed from a comparative team to the odds-on
favorite – not just for the division, but the World Series – every year. So what are the
Red Sox doing?

Epstein has mentioned on numerous occasions he doesn’t plan on trading away the
future of the franchise for a quick fix or solely to keep up with the Yankees in the
short-term. Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias are the faces of the future
at Fenway Park. Lars Anderson had a bad year, but he’s looking to be a
perennial first-choice for first base. As for Clay Buchholz, we all know he’s
here and he’s only looking to get better with real experience. Add that to an already
young setup of Pedroia, Ellsbury, Papelbon, Bard, Delcarman, Dice-K and Lester,
and you’re looking at a solid team that plans to stay in tact long after the big signings
of the Yankees go to the wayside. But can the fans handle two years of Yankee
dominance in the East before these prospects so much as show their faces?

Fenway Park Ticket Sales

The silence of Red Sox management this year at the Winter Meetings could be very
concerning for the ‘Nation – a group of fans that have sold out Fenway over 500
consecutive times. Look for that record to potentially be snapped in 2010 if
something doesn’t happen soon.

The silence, however, could mean that something is in the works. Something
BIG. Could it be a deal for Adrian Gonzalez? Maybe Roy
Halladay
is in the mix? Maybe a 4-team deal for both? Maybe talks with
Jason Bay, John Lackey, Rich Harden, and Mike
Gonzalez
are further along than Epstein is letting on. Maybe I’m just farting in
the wind.

Will the Red Sox step up, or will the Yankees continue their dastardly ways by signing
Lackey and/or Holliday? Only time will tell. This time of year when the Yankees pick
up steam and the Red Sox seemingly are running on empty, the time seems to slow
down, and every second breaks the heart. So please, John Henry, Theo Epstein –
do SOMETHING – and do it soon. This heartache is unbearable.

Clock