Category Archives: Boston Red Sox

Do the Red Sox Really Need Sandoval?

The past several weeks have put the Red Sox through the free agent rumor mill like we have not seen for quite some time. There are multiple sources that reported how the Red Sox are positioned to spend significant money on the free agent market this offseason, and they appear to have made offers to several big names on the market. One of their early targets is said to be former Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who could provide good defense and help balance the Red Sox’ righty-heavy lineup. However, when one takes a step back from all of the hype and excitement, they can objectively ask themselves: do the Red Sox really NEED Pablo Sandoval? The Red Sox are definitely a team that can afford to pay top-of-the-market rates for free agents, but Sandoval might not really be a legitimate need for the Red Sox.

Sandoval might be more of a luxury than a necessity

Sandoval might be more of a luxury than a necessity

The first question to ask is does Sandoval fit into the Red Sox’ culture and is he the kind of player that the organization values? The Red Sox are a team that openly values hitters who take a selective approach at the plate, take pitches, and work the count. This is significant because it is an area in which Sandoval struggles greatly. Over the course of his career, Sandoval has swung at 45.7% of the pitches he has seen outside of the strike zone, and at 58.3% of the pitches he saw overall. The top three Red Sox hitters, Dustin Pedroia (career 26.1 O-Swing%, 43.2 Swing%), David Ortiz (career 22.2 O-Swing%, 44.8 Swing%), and Mike Napoli (career 24.6 O-Swing%, 42 Swing%), swing far less often. These are the kinds of guys that the Red Sox want hitting in the middle of their lineup, and preferably over the rest of it too. While it is true that the Red Sox already have a similar player to Sandoval in Yoenis Cespedes (career 37.4 O-Swing%, 50.9 Swing%), his contract is up following the coming season and his stay in Boston is far from guaranteed. In addition, there are reports that Cespedes fell out of favor with Red Sox coaches due, at least in part, to his unwillingness to change his approach at the plate. The Red Sox do not value free-swinging players as much as advanced hitters who work the count, which is something that Sandoval absolutely does not do.

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Red Sox Report: Sox Set to Revert Back To Old Ways of Spending

Before the 2011 season, the Red Sox loaded up on big players. They signed Carl Crawford to a monster 7 year deal, and traded for and extended the contract of Adrian Gonzalez, and with John Lackey who was brought in the year before, and Josh Beckett as the ace, the Red Sox were favorites to win the World Series.

red sox

The team had an epic collapse to end the season and less than a year later, Gonzalez, Beckett, and Crawford were all sent to Los Angeles and the Red Sox were given a new start. After a last place finish, they brought in key players on short term deals, and were able to go on to win a World Series. It seemed as though the Red Sox learned from their big mistakes and were revolutionizing how teams would spend money for players.

After finishing 2014 in last place, they’ve changed their tune once again and seemed poised to go back to their old ways of spending money on free agents. The first big time free agent that could wind up in Boston is the Panda, Pablo Sandoval.

Sandoval was a crucial part of last years World Series run for the Giants, and is a career .294 hitter. Although he’s only hit eclipsed the 20 homerun mark once in his career, the Red Sox think he can be bring more power in the small confines of Fenway Park. Getting him to Boston will not be cheap, and it won’t be short term. Sandoval will most likely be looking for a 6 year deal, somewhere in the ballpark of $25 Million a year, and the Red Sox are now the front runners to land the big third baseman.

If they get Sandoval, the next move for Ben Cherington and company will be to bring in at least one top tier pitcher. The big three on the market are Max Scherzer, James Shields, and old friend Jon Lester. Scherzer may be out of Boston’s price range, so they’ll most likely go after Shields or Lester, and if that fails, they may try to acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies via a trade.

Lester and Shields will both require contracts for about 6 years at $20 Million a year. If they sign both Sandoval and a pitcher like Lester or Shields, they’ll be committing $240 Million over the next 6 years. After finishing last 2 out of the last 3 years, they need to take chances on contracts like these, but if it fails, they won’t be so lucky this time and have another team bail them out of the contracts.

If they acquire these free agents, they’ll still have to continue spending by bringing in at least one more starter and a few quality relievers to have a chance to be decent this year. Once the first shoe drops, Cherington will be busy on the trade market as Will Middlebrooks will be out of the Red Sox plans, but his value is minimal, but he could be part of a bigger package to bring in a role player or middle reliever to the team.

Although the Red Sox caught fire in a bottle two years ago, they know it’ll be a long shot to happen again, and if they don’t make a big splash, Red Sox Nation will be angry with the lack of spending and desire to put out a quality baseball team.

Buckle up baseball fans, because the hot stove is officially heating up.

Why the Red Sox Have a Chance at Lester

Let’s start with the disclaimer that I do understand that I am the glass half-full type of person that tends to take the optimistic outlook on things. I realize that The Cubs’ (or any other teams’) dollars are worth just as much as the Red Sox’, and that the Red Sox cannot really bank on much of a hometown discount at this point. Popular rumors say that the Red Sox are one of at least six teams that are intensely interested in signing Lester from the open market, and Red Sox ownership reportedly has a meeting scheduled with Lester and his agents. However, the simple fact that they traded him should not rule the Red Sox out as a serious bidder for Lester’s services on the free agent market. Obviously the team has the resources to compete with just about any team on the open market, so the dollars should not be an issue. Red Sox fans should not exactly expect that Lester will definitely return to Fenway this winter, but they can expect a realistic shot at signing him.

There is something to be said for the comfort factor here. Lester was drafted, developed, and enjoyed tremendous success with the Red Sox organization, and this cannot be ignored completely. Additionally (and possibly more importantly), Lester has a great family life in the Boston area. His wife and children are comfortable here and have their whole lives centered around this area, so coming back to the Red Sox would be a seamless transition as far as the community is concerned. Lester has said before that one of the key factors in his free agent decision will be how comfortable his family is in a particular community, which should be an area in which the Red Sox have a sizable advantage over the rest of the market.

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Theo Epstein WILL Prevent a Lester-Red Sox Reunion

This week may be a very big week for the former Red Sox ace, Jon Lester. He is scheduled to meet with both the Chicago Cubs, and the Boston Red Sox. There are a large number of folks from Red Sox Nation convinced that Lester will return to Boston next year, but unless Ben Cherington has already made an offer to Lester and his agents that can’t possibly be turned down, there’s no chance his Sox will be Red again.

theo epstein

When Jon Lester visits Chicago this week, old friend Theo Epstein is going to show Lester all around the historic Wrigley Field, tell Lester how it feels to end a curse, and then put on the table a very very large offer.

Sure the Red Sox may be close to bringing back the ace that they traded to Oakland last year, but the former Boston General Manager will do everything in his power to stop that from happening. Theo came into the Boston organization right after Lester was drafted by the club, and he saw him grow, and brought him to the majors. There’s no doubt the two have a friendly relationship, and Epstein knows exactly what he’ll get by signing Lester.

Epstein is now at the point with the Cubs where he needs to start making big splashes, and at least get them into playoff contention in the next couple years, or he may find himself in a dumpster on the North Side of Chicago.

He’s already brought in Joe Maddon to run the ball club (under very sketchy circumstances, and most likely illegally). He’s developed the farm system enough where good prospects are making their imapact with the big league club now, and many Cubs experts think they may have what it takes to make the playoffs for the time since 2003.

Despite all the love he’s given to Boston, Lester will surely take the best contract offer he can get, as this will be his only time he can demand such a big payday. He’s also a competitor, and has already been part of two World Series championships, and most likely won’t want to play for a team that can’t compete. It’ll be Epstein’s job to show Lester they will be competitive, and I’m sure for this factor, Joe Maddon will be at Wrigley convincing him they will make the playoffs this season.

The Cubs are going to be that desperate guy in a romantic comedy trying to show the girl that he is better than the current or ex-boyfriend. They will Wine and Dine him, and do everything they can to show that playing in Chicago will be better than playing in Boston again. In this case, Boston fans will be rooting for the ex-boyfriend , but something tells me Chicago will sweep Lester off his feet.

Red Sox Offseason Outlook: Outfield

The Red Sox offseason seems to be developing a trend early on in the process. Ben Cherington appears to possess a great deal of flexibility with his current roster, and the outfield is a major source of it. There are currently at least seven outfielders in the mix for outfield playing time in 2015 (not including super-utility guy Brock Holt), with several moves likely coming out of that group. The good news for the Red Sox is that many of these players are starting caliber, so there is a good deal of quality depth in the Red Sox’ current outfield.

Victorino could provide a spark in 2015

Victorino could provide a spark in 2015

At the conclusion of the 2014 season, the Red Sox managed to be missing every single one of the outfielders that were on the field for the final out of their 2013 World Series championship; Jonny Gomes and Jacoby Ellsbury departed to other pastures with Shane Victorino still stuck on the Disabled List. Victorino figures to be back in the mix for 2015, and could provide a strong veteran presence, assuming he can stay on the field. After a season of questionable outfield defense for the most part, it will be refreshing to have Victorino’s golden glove back in right field in 2015. Victorino could also play centerfield in a pinch, but this would not be ideal. Daniel Nava could also see some time in right, though he will likely be a fill-in at every outfield spot in 2015 (in addition to some first base), where his value can be maximized through platoon (career .585 OPS vs. lefthanders, .813 vs. righties). Allen Craig might play some right field in 2015, though his defensive shortcomings might be best deployed in left field (or, ideally, first base). However if Craig shows any of his previous offensive skill from his time with the Cardinals (.794 OPS), the Red Sox will probably be glad to trade worse defense for better offensive production.

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Red Sox Offseason Outlook: Infield

The infield should be a major strength for the 2015 Boston Red Sox, if for no reason other than there are options aplenty. There will be the usual locks, like Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli, but there should be competition in spots for playing time that will benefit the entire lineup. There are rumblings that the Red Sox could be looking to upgrade their infield in free agency, and if that happens it will likely be a singular, high-impact event. There is lots of returning stability in the infield, but there is also room for improvement.

Pedroia is the gold standard at the keystone

The Red Sox are fortunate enough to have their middle infield locked in for 2015. Pedroia is automatic to start virtually every game, and he is the best second baseman in the game when healthy (and sometimes when he isn’t). We are also operating under the assumption that Xander Bogaerts will not be impeded from starting at shortstop (we learned our lesson last season), because he flashed his considerable potential in September (.313/.317/.490). Brock Holt will likely be the Red Sox super utility guy in 2015, but he now has experience at every single infield position, which will be immensely valuable to the Red Sox. The best move here is to allow Bogaerts the time to continue his development at short, while Pedroia sets the tone for the entire infield. There is room for improvement for Bogaerts, but playing next to the Red Sox’ best defender will help make up for the learning curve.

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