State Of The Red Sox: Hot Stove Heating Up As Roster Takes Shape
If all the deals hold, your beloved Boston Red Sox will have spent around $175 million dollars this off-season just on free agents. The best part about that stat is that Larry, Ben and the boys are going to do everything they can to keep this team competitive. The worst part about that stat though, is that they spent 175 million dollars on players who have such little value.
Many people have said that the next few years are “bridge years” for the Red Sox and the recent signings have proved that. All of the deals sit in the 1-3 year range and that has to be a sign that our best prospects are 1-3 years away from being ready for the show. You can put guys like Jose Iglesias, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Bryce Brentz and Matt Barnes on the back burner and begin to focus on this year’s team. The guys who are worth $175 million or what I like to call “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.
The Good: The best free agent signing that Boston made this off season came on a one year deal worth 4.25 million. Koji Uehara is a back end bullpen guy who, in past years, has been outstanding for both Texas and Baltimore. Last year, Uehara finished the season with a 1.75 ERA, a .64 whip and he only walked 3 batters in 36 innings. Let me repeat that again, HE ONLY WALKED 3 BATTERS ALL YEAR! If there is one singing to be excited about for the Red Sox this year, Koji Uehara is the one.
The next good deal that the Sox made this summer hasn’t even been made official yet, but assuming all deals will hold the Mike Napoli deal is going to help the Red Sox in so many ways. Napoli can play first base, he can catch and if needed he can DH. Along with his versatility, what make the Napoli signing so appealing are his career numbers at Fenway Park. Although it may not be a large sample his .306 average, 7 home runs and 17 RBIs make fans like me hopeful that this team will compete with the other powerhouses in the AL East.
The Bad: Another 3 year/$39 million dollar deal was handed out this summer by Boston. The Shane Victorino signing was one of the first “major” moves made by the Sox and in general, it makes plenty of sense. Victorino is a great fielder who fills a hole in the Red Sox outfield and if Boston chooses to move Jacoby Ellsbury, we have someone who can play center field. The “Flyin’ Hawaiian” can also run and if John Farrell’s time in Toronto taught us anything, it’s that he loves to steal bases. So, what makes this a bad signing? Well, $39 million for a 32 year old who hit .255 last year doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Victorino is on the back nine in his career and this signing is one that proves that Boston is spending money on names, and not value.
Another bad signing that the Red Sox made was bringing in Ryan Dempster for $26.5 million over 2 years. Now, Dempster says he feels that “Boston has as much of a chance to win as anyone else” but that can’t be true. This Sox team, honestly, might be .500 at best and in my mind Dempster signed here because nobody else was offering him as much money. Dempster was great for the Cubs but once he made the move to the American League and faced better lineups, his great numbers inflated. Dempster finished his time in Texas last year with an ERA over 5 and that is a weak division. Coming to the East where he will be pitching against teams like Toronto and New York, does not sound promising if you are a Sox fan.
The Ugly: If the Red Sox want to spend money and be competitive, the Jonny Gomes deal makes no sense. Gomes got a 2 year/$10 million dollar deal from Boston because he is a bat for the lineup and he can play left field. Boston could have signed Nick Swisher to play left field for more money, and the value would have been much greater. Gomes has played for 8 teams in his career and that is never a good sign. There is a reason he hasn’t found a true home with one of those teams, so why would Boston go out and bring him in if 8 other squads don’t feel he is good enough to keep around?
The last free agent deal that I have not discussed is the 1 year/$9.5 million dollar contract given to Stephen Drew. I understand shortstop is a major area of concern for the Red Sox. I understand Jose Iglesias is not ready to play every day at the major league level. But, I don’t understand how you can give a player 9.5 million dollars when he has not played a full season in the past 2 years. Drew was once considered a durable player but once he injured his ankle, he has not been able to consistently help a team win. If those struggles continue in Boston, we are going to be forced to play Iglesias and his nonexistent presence at the plate. Let’s just hope that Stephen is more personable than his brother was while he played here, it could make his time in Boston much easier.
That covers all of the free agent signings by Boston in the 2012 off-season but there was one more move that Boston made to improve the 2013 team. This past week, Boston traded under achieving reliever Mark Melancon and some prospects to Pittsburgh for all star closer Joel Hanrahan and a 24 year old second baseman named Brock Holt. Aside from “The Good” free agent signings, this was the best deal the Sox made this winter. For starters, Hanrahan has been an all star twice while playing in Pittsburgh. If you can succeed as a closer in Pittsburgh, you can succeed as a closer anywhere.
Hanrahan also adds more depth to the Sox bullpen which is never a bad thing. Brock Holt is also a great pickup for Boston because he gives the Sox a decent option to play second base if Dustin Pedroia was ever to go down with an injury. Holt hit .292 for the Pirates in September this past year and during his time in the minors, hit .317 during his career. Very promising numbers for a former 9th round draft pick who could potentially replace Pedroia when his career ends.
Overall the 2013 Boston Red Sox are going to be all over the place. A big part of the season is going to rely on the performance of returning players, but fans have to think realistically and understand that this team is, in all likelihood, not going to be a playoff team this year. They are too far behind every other team in the AL East talent wise and they still have too many issues with the roster even though it’s full. But hey, at least we will be able to go to the best ball park in America for almost nothing and that is something we can all be happy about.