I disappeared from this site for a while at season's end due to a very unfortunate event - I went back to work. Teaching has its pros - pay NOT being one of them - but the cons are long-hard hours come August-September. Luckily this year, I didn't miss much Red Sox baseball during those months because they forgot to play. Now that I'm a bit more settled into the routiine, I've found time to revisit lately and here is my plan for the 2012 Red Sox. So Big Ben, if you are reading...take some notes. This will be in Step-by-step fashion, due to my teacher-ness (no, I do not teach English).
Step #1: Get John Lackey off of the team - BOOM!, well that's not exactly what I had in mind, but hey - at the very least he'll be on the 60-Day DL, and not in the locker room. Which means he'll be rehabbing with beer and Popeye's Chicken somewhere.
Step #2: Make a nice offer to David Ortiz, but not an egregious one - A 2-year contract in the range of 12 million should be fair and allow Big Papi to potentially finish off a nice career in Beantown. If he presses for more money than you are willing to spend then state your offer once again and give him time to mull over just how many teams are willing to go 2 years and 12 million per on a 36-year old DH. Fall-Back DH: Cuddyer/Lavarnway/Youk
Step #3: Say goodbye to the "old guard" with some class - Varitek, Wakefield and Drew have been icons in Boston for various reasons. They've brought us some great moments are were significant contributors on championship clubs, but its time to part ways and get a bit younger. Accolade them to death, but do not sign them to contracts.
Step #4: Re-sign Jonathan Papelbon - The reliever market just plain stinks this year and with Paps you know what you are getting. If you move Bard to closer then you lose your high-leverage arm in the 8th and that's significantly harder to replace. Paps is one of only two relievers to average over a 2.0 WAR during the past 6 years (Rivera is the other). I must admit, as goofy as the dude is, he can pitch, is still in his prime and just seems like one of the upbeat guys. That said, do not go overboard - pick your years and amount and if someone else sets the market, move on. Fall-Back: Bard
Step #5: Pick up Scutaro's option but decline Wheeler's - 6 million is not a bad price to pay for one year of "I know what I'm getting" at SS. Especially when you consider what most clubs got at SS last year and the Free Agent market at said position (Scutaro posted a 2.9 WAR in limited time). With Scutaro, Aviles and Lowrie you've got a three-head-flexibility monster for pretty cheap. (Note: During the season, I'm looking around for trades to get better at SS in the long-term). As far as Wheeler goes - I like him, just not at 3 million. Why not bring in 3 guys at a million each and see if you can strike Aceves type gold again.
Step #6: Sign a few Free-Agents - just not very huge names - If I'm Ben I'm out there looking for a right-handed bat that can pass as an outfielder/DH. I bark up Michael Cuddyer's tree, scout Josh Willingham and even take a gander at Cody Ross. Cuddyer is likely to be the most expensive but can play 1B and allows Gonzalez to switch to DH and rest Papi. I might also sign a veteran catcher to stash at Pawtucket and a few cheap relievers. Sign at least one veteran hurler, but see if you can get it done with limited years. The club is already tied up in a plethora of arms for long-term, see if you can go bigger money on shorter deals for someone like Oswalt. I might even take a peak at someone like Chris Capuano or Jon Garland (I'm aiming for a decent innings eater to slot behind Lester/Beckett/Buchholz.
Step #7: Let some young kids play - I'm eyeing Reddick/Kalish, Lavarnway and potentially Bowden/Doubront for the big league club. Kalish may need more time at AAA to work out the injury kinks but Reddick platoons with my RH FA outfielder, Lavarnway is my backup catcher and part-time DH and I give Bowden/Doubront another chance to see what they can do in the pen. Depending upon how Tazawa is progressing I might even see what he brings.
Step #8: Offer contracts to all of my Arb cases with the exception of Darnell McDonald: Filet o' Fish has had some moments in Boston, but is clearly not helpful with the bat or with the glove - he needs to go. Sign a glove-man to replace him from the FA pool - or carry both Reddick and Kalish (I want my 5th outfielder to be able to flash some leather!). Salty, Lowrie, Aceves, Morales, Albers, Bard - I'm bringing back with reasonable deals.
Step #9: Sit down with Boras about Ellsbury - It's going to be much harder now that Jacoby decided to become a 5-tool player, but the sit-down has to happen. See if yo can get his arbitration year and a few free agency years bought out for a fair price and if not - go to arb and be willing to let this one go. I'm banking on Ellsbury hitting Free Agency because I just don't trust Boras.
Step #10: Think about trades that can help the team - I'm shopping Youkilis to a team that needs OBP and a good hitting firstbaseman to stick in the middle of the order. I'm shopping Lowrie because he's kinda redundant and needs a change of scenery. I'm listening on Reddick if Kalish looks healthy. Heck I'm even considering what I might be able to get for Ellsbury if the price is right. In all of these deals I'm looking for arms.
Potential 2012 Opening Day Roster:
Pitchers: Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Oswalt, Garland/Bedard, Paps, Bard, Bowden/Doubront/Weiland/Tazawa, Aceves, Albers, Morales
Batters: Salty, Lavarnway, Ortiz, Gonzalez, Pedroia, Aviles, Lowrie, Scutaro, Youk, Reddick, Kalish, Cuddyer/Willingham/Ross, Crawford, Ellsbury