You can stop the candy grams and flowers. No need for more e-cards or obscure vegetable-of-the-month memberships. I'm all set in the fruitcake department. I've received all your well wishes and more commonly desperate pleas, and after careful consideration (consisting of several doughnuts and a good round of nose picking) I've decided the world needs more links. Possibly on a daily basis. So what I'm saying: it's safe to once again inhabit the interwebs. Daily Links are back.
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Theo and Tito are gone. John Lackey has taken his talents to South anywhere else and, last I heard, is currently looking for a box cutter to find out where he is. I presume the air holes aren't big enough tell. Carl Crawford has assumedly locked himself in a room with only a baseball bat, a video machine, a latrine, a heater, one of those shaky bar-bell things that looks like you're masturbating when you hold it, and a cat named Mr. Pickles. He's got work to do. The 'chicken and beer' jokes are subsiding into the ether and by mayoral edict anyone who is caught indulging risks an a quick strike crotchward. In short, the 2011 Red Sox are no more and you may thank your deity of choice for that.
All of which is to say there's work to be done. A manager and coach to hire, free agents to sign, players under contract to insult during a live radio interview, and probably assorted other things to do as well. New York Newsday's Ken Davidoff (or is it David Kenoff?) takes a crack at where thirty different free agents will end up. Skipping down to the end of the page, he guesses David Ortiz remains in Boston (2 years for $22 million seems reasonable) and Jonathan Papelbon signs with the Phillies for 3 years at $36 million. If that's all it takes I'd bet the Red Sox match it.
Over at Hardball Talk, the topic of Ortiz as a free agent hasn't gone unnoticed. Indeed Drew Silva wonders if Ortiz might be have some interest from National League clubs. Recall Ortiz has played about five games in the field since 2004 when he became the Red Sox regular DH and you'll quickly realize how silly this notion is. The genesis of the idea, I believe, lies with Lance Berkman (who Silva mentions by name in the article) who played right field for the Cardinals after years at first base. The astute reader will quickly note the difference. Namely, Berkman has played defense virtually his entire career while Ortiz spends the vast majority of his time on the bench preparing to hit. These two situations are hardly analogous. In the end you have to think that any team pinning their hopes at first base to David Ortiz is placing a bet they'll have a tough time winning. And for the record, at least according to Fan Graphs, Berkman wasn't any great shakes in the outfield this season.
In actual Red Sox news, new GM Ben Cherington made his first move in his new capacity, picking up Marco Scutaro's $6 million option for the 2012 season. The move isn't particularly surprising, as the market for shortstops is either crazy expensive (Rollins and Reyes) or just crazy (everyone else). Ben covered it here at OTM yesterday, but considering the team's options this was a smart move. Scutaro is an average shortstop defensively (slightly above if you believe UZR) and an above average one with the bat. That isn't to say he's anything amazing, mostly that is damning with faint praise as his competition at the position is on the weak side. That said, Scutaro is a fine player and one that could certainly be the starting shortstop on a championship team. If only all problems were solved so easily.
Alex Speier at WEEI.com argues convincingly that the Red Sox are unlikely to deal Kevin Youkilis this off season. The same reasons Youkilis would be attractive to another team make him not only attractive but borderline vital to the Red Sox. For those of you expecting a championship-caliber team, one with a well above average offense, you're not going to like watching Mike Aviles every day at third base. Nothing against Aviles, but he is emphatically not Kevin Youkilis. Combine Youk's production with his team-friendly contract and unless some team is head over heals for Youk, there really isn't any reason to deal him. The caveats to that are 1) that any player is available for the right price, and 2) if the Red Sox feel Youkilis will not be able to play third base regularly be that due to health or an expected decline in performance. Still, you can bank on Youk still being with the team in March.
Finally, this video reminds me of happier times even though Manny is wearing Dodger blue.