I posted on the "Armchair GM: You" thread, but I realised I had more I wanted to say, after I'd hit post. So I thought I may as well expand it here, instead of just adding there, since that thread will shortly drop off the radar.
My take on the future is beyond the jump.
I've been holding out hope. Especially with the good start after the All-Star break, I thought that maybe, just maybe, the return of Ells and Crawford might actually have been all we needed - except perhaps a new starting pitcher. I thought adding Dempster might actually put us in a position to contend. After Ross' walk-off homer, I thought that might have been just the spark this team needed to go on a winning streak and be right in contention. Especially with a weakened Toronto team without most of their starting rotation (due to a spate of injuries) and without their top offensive talent in Bautista.
Oh, how wrong I was.
Others have been saying it for a while now, and I've finally realised that they are right. We can't contend. Even so close, there's just no sign of this team being able to put together any kind of consistent run to leave us in contention. Even if, by some miracle, we managed to pull off a run for a wild card spot, I have no confidence left for that one-game playoff, or for any kind of series against a top team after it. We've pulled off victories against weaker, slumping, or weakened teams, but against the top teams, we just can't get it done. Even the middling to top teams. We are not the worst in the AL; we're just average. Middle of the pack. Not good enough.
We're done for this year, so any Trade Deadline moves have to be about preparing for the future.
First move has to be to bring up the guys of the future: principally, Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias. That means trading Mike Aviles and either Kelly Shoppach or Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I like all three of them, but they won’t be around forever, and it’s time to give the new guys a shot.
Second, we have too many pitchers. The bullpen’s full, with Scott Atchison, Rich Hill, Chris Carpenter and Andrew Bailey on the DL and Clayton Mortensen and Zach Stewart in Pawtucket. Oh, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but I was really thinking of people who can actually pitch.
Third, we have too many outfielders. Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, and Daniel Nava in the 25; Che-Hsuan Lin, Scott Podsednik and Ryan Kalish in AAA. And we only have Ells for another year after this season, and probably can’t afford to re-sign him.
There’s some people we probably can’t trade. John Lackey, no-one will look at until after he’s back from the TJ. Jon Lester, well, I doubt he has any trade value right now. Crawford’s contract is likely too big to move. Dice K has a no-trade clause and Josh Beckett has 10-5 trade veto rights.
Then there’s some people that shouldn’t be traded. On this list I’d mainly put the younger players who are the future. Will Middlebrooks, Kalish, Lavarnway, Iglesias, Felix Doubront, Franklin Morales, Daniel Bard (despite his troubles). The 3 B’s are not on the table either. I’m also going to add Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, and Dustin Pedroia to this list, and probably Adrian Gonzalez. I'd also like to keep Junichi Tazawa, but I'm open to offers. Atchison, I think his personal situation dictates that he stays in Boston, and I am just fine with that.
Everyone else is on the block.
What do I want in any trade? Prospects. That, or young players under team control for a few years, preferably with options.
I don’t really know other team’s farm systems well enough to list options; those I know, I doubt we’d get. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try: I’m calling Texas to ask about Jurickson Profar. I doubt he’s coming though. But I am calling every team I think might be interested in anyone to see what they might give.
Definitely leaving would be Ells. I’m sure there are teams in the hunt who would be very interested, and I am going to the highest bidder. Hopefully with a bidding war.
Also definitely saying goodbye to Boston would be Dice K. If he won't waive his no-trade, he's going on the 60-day DL until the end of his contract, or being designated for assignment. I want that roster spot back for an actual, you know, baseball player.
I'm also sending Crawford back to get Tommy John. I'd rather he's back for the start of next season than go through this when-will-it-blow followed by offseason surgery and him out until the 2013 All-Star break.
Similarly, Lester is going on the DL, until he can figure out what the hell is wrong with him.
My biggest move, I think, is that I'm finding out who the best sports psychologist in the world is, and I'm paying them whatever they want. I'm setting them to figure out what the hell is wrong with the confidence in our squad.
I am also launching an investigation into what is wrong with our rotation. I'm sorry, but at this stage, the trouble that Lester, Beckett, and Bard have been in just can't be coincidental. Buchh, thankfully, seems to have figured it out, but those other three, I mean wow. Erratic doesn't cover it, and neither does inconsistent. There's a problem, and my priority #1 is finding out what and fixing it.
So, my tentative squad for the rest of the year. Obviously, since a lot of people are on the block, there's potential for a lot of change, so players names in italics are those I'm not 100% committed to keeping.
Miller or Hill (have to have at least one lefty!)
Either Aceves or Padilla
[note: I like Lin on the bench for his defense. The other three, I would trade in a heartbeat, but I don't see it happening]
Either Shop or Salty
Either Hill or Miller
Hoping to trade
Ross. We're not getting value out of one-year contracts - we're done - so why not try to get something back for them? Although, if Ross would sign a multi-year extension that's reasonable, I'm taking it. I like him.
Aceves or Padilla or both.
This opens up some roster spots, lets us trade for young players under team control who need to go on the 40-man, and lets the young guys of the future get some Major League experience under their belt.
This might not bring success next year, but hopefully would bring some good prospects in, and set us up for the following few years.