Guys, Mike Napoli's still not officially a member of the Red Sox. I'm not entirely sure why, and neither do you, unless you're a member of the Sox front office (In which case, why are you reading this? Get on that damn Giancarlo Stanton trade.). We can surmise that it's some issue with his physicals, but that's about all. This season is a real pain when dealing in speculation.
Despite the lack of Napoli, Boston did go a long way toward shoring up their 2013 roster. Last Thursday, they signed a starting pitcher at long last. Ryan Dempster will now be following Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz in the Sox rotation, having signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal. Boston now has, in Lester/Buchholz/Dempster/John Lackey/Felix Doubront, a rotation that could be fantastic, could be as bad as last year's, or could be anywhere in between. Fun!
In less-promising free agency news, the Yankees, who've suddenly got a lineup held together with spit and twine, tried to patch their hole at third base with a bit of veteran grit. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, that veteran grit will be coming from Kevin Youkilis. The longtime Sox favorite will be wearing pinstripes next season, as unpleasant as that prospect is, I can't help but wish him well. Matt Kory gave us his thoughts on the signing.
One of the few guarantees of being a Red Sox fan lately is that come April, you'll be watching a new guy at shortstop. We figured that would be the case this year, but as it turns out, it won't be Jose Iglesias. Boston signed Stephen Drew to a one-year deal, hoping for a rebound from the 29-year-old shortstop. Drew's entirely an upside play by Boston. If he plays all year as he's capable of doing, he could be the most productive shortstop the Sox have had in a decade. If not, he'll still be better than Julio Lugo. (This, by the way, is the instant way to win any debate about a shortstop signing, or really any signing. "He can't be worse than Julio Lugo" is pretty ironclad.)
With all these signings flying about, how are we to judge Ben Cherington? As our Ben pointed out, it's a bit early to tell. Virtually his entire run as General Manager has been spent digging out from under the wreckage of 2011. With that in mind, it's no wonder that his job performance seems a bit muddled. (I'm biting my tongue so hard on the obvious political analogy here, you guys have no idea.) If 2013 goes badly, or the prospects don't pan out, then we can fire up the torches and pitchforks. Till then, we'll wait and see.
While Cherington's been shoring up the 2013 roster in Boston, other teams around the league have been snagging up the big free agents. Josh Hamilton wound up signing with Anaheim for the next five years, at the low price of $25 million a year. Detroit retained the services of once-upon-a-time Sox prospect Anibal Sanchez, also for five years. If anyone was really eager to get either guy for that long a contract, then I suppose it's disappointing, but I'm hardly broken up about it.
All eyes this week turned to Toronto, who followed up their enormous trade with Miami by trading away several top prospects to the New York Mets in exchange for knuckleballer/philosopher/all-around solid dude R.A. Dickey. As Matt Collins points out, this is a solid example of a team seeing their competitive window open, and deciding to take a shot. Will it lead to an AL East title? Hard to say, of course, but lone1c points out that if it does work out, we can be quite annoyed at the Mets for their complicity.
It's been a long offseason, but a roster's starting at last to take shape. It's going to be far too long until we get to see it in action, but it's there. Whether it can contend... Well, that's a topic for another day. Monday, I imagine. Happy weekend, and happy holidays, all.