[editor's note, by Randy Booth] I just want to note that Rich Lederer and Bryan Smith from BaseballAnalysts.com asked me a few questions regarding "What Went Wrong" with the Red Sox. I advice you to check out the article.
It's almost that time where teams may start to bid on free agents, persuading them to join their team in an effort to win the World Series. The Boston Red Sox, like every other team, will do the same, general manager or no general manager.
The Red Sox obviously have weaknesses. The largest of them being the pitching staff. There are still some questions to be answered, though: Do we need another ace? What kind of relief help do we need? Should we aim for a closer? Should we get some middle relief help?
Here is my short-list of pitching help that the Sox should aim after this off-season.
Jarrod Washburn | SP | Left-Handed
The best left-handed starter on the market is this man. He compiled an 8-8 record in 2005 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but his earned run average was an impressive 3.20, and an even better 2.65 away from home. He's pretty durable too, as he's averaged 28.8 starts over the past five seasons.
One very considerable drawback though is the fact that his agent is none other than Scott Boras. This could be a bad thing, but the fact that we were able to get a reasonable deal signed earlier in the season with Craig Hansen, also a Boras client, could help us out in the long run.
The Angels have young pitching talent around the organization; even more reason that they may not want to resign Washburn to a large contract. Is he worth ten million a season? I don't think so, but that may be what Boras wants for his client. I'm guessing he'll want at least eight million dollars a year. That's a questionable contract, in my opinion.
AJ Burnett | SP | Right-Handed
Burnett is arguably the best starter on the market, but I, for one, will not be placing my bet on this righty.
He's young, but injury prone. He can throw strikes, but he's going to be very expensive. I don't see much upside too him other than his age and his ability to strike hitters out. He's pretty inconsistent, and that's the last thing we want on this ballclub.
I'll be one of the first ones to say it: Nay to Burnett.
Billy Wagner | Closer | Left-Handed
Wagner is unquestionably the best closer on the market this off-season. If we trade Keith Foulke, then there is no doubt in my mind that we should pursue Wagner and give him a contract that he wants (reportedly 3 yr/30 million).
He may be 34 years old, but I don't think that means anything for a relief pitcher. Look at Mike Timlin; he's 39 years old and he had a great season this year. Wagner has been producing his whole career, as he's had an ERA over 2.85 only once in the past ten seasons. I'll take that with no questions asked.
Cal Eldred | RP | Right-Handed
Eldred may be a name on the list that some people haven't thought of. I think he would be a solid addition to the bullpen though, and probably a pretty cheap one at that.
Eldred had a career year as a reliever this season (his third season as that duty), but over the past three seasons he has been consistent. He finished the season with a 2.19 ERA while batters hit only .259 against him. He isn't a Billy Wagner, but I'm sure he'd be more successful in Boston than anyone like John Halama was this year.
BJ Ryan | RP | Left-Handed
Ryan, the closer for the Orioles, could be a nice pickup this off-season if the Orioles can't come to agreements with him. He's a very reliable relief pitcher that may look for a big contract this off-season.
Ryan pitched in 69 games for the O's this season, finishing with a 2.43 ERA and 36 saves. You may remember him when he gave up the walk-off home run to David Ortiz earlier in the season. He's only 29 years old, also, so he has some good years ahead of him. He's making 2.6 million this year, so I envision he and his agent wanting at least five million per year. I think the Sox should jump all over that, even though it may take seven million to sign him.
Kyle Farnsworth | RP | Right-Handed
Here's a guy I'd love to be in the Boston bullpen next season. Farnsworth is a flame-throwing relief pitcher that strikes hitters out for sheer enjoyment and pleasure.
Farnsworth appeared in 72 games this season between Detroit and Atlanta. He pitched exactly 70 innings, and cut down 87 batters in the process. Batters do not have much success of the hurler either, as OBA is .180 and WHIP is a stellar 1.01. He's had some great stats over the years and they should just continue.
He's earning 1.9 million a season at this point, but that is sure to change. He and his agent will ask for five million at least, in my opinion. If that's the case, the Sox should jump all over him. I'm sure there will be a pretty good bidding war for him, but I think he may be worth the money.