The dust has settled, and the winter meetings are over. It's time to analyze what the Red Sox have done over this exciting, and stressful, past week.
The first real action of the week for the Red Sox came on Wednesday, when a valuable asset to the Sox was traded.
If you're a Red Sox fan, you're going to love this trade. If you're a Padres fan, you'll be left scratching your head in confusion.
Loretta is an All-Star second baseman that can hit for average, and is one of the best defensive second baseman in the majors today. He is a career .301 hitter through 11 seasons with three different teams: Milwaukee, Houston and San Diego most recently. This year was a down season (.280/.360/.347), but he only played only 105 games due to surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb.
The previous two seasons were two of his best. He hit .335 and .314 in '04 and '03, respectively, and hit 29 home runs combined over those seasons. I said his fielding is excellent, and his numbers tell the truth. He's had 23 errors over the past three seasons and only 35 errors at second base in 4,804 innings.
In Mirabelli we lose probably the best backup catcher in the major leagues. It was just going to be time before he was traded to a team that was desperate for a capable starter. He didn't have the best stats (though he did provide some pop off the bench), but he was valuable because he caught Tim Wakefield every fifth day, something Jason Varitek isn't as capable as doing. I was even at Fenway to see Doug "Smelly" Mirabelli, as my family and I call him, launch a bomb over the Monster.
I see Mirabelli hitting .260 in San Diego next season with 15 or more home runs and 60 or more runs batted in. He could be a very essential part to the San Diego lineup if used properly. He may struggle in PetCo Park, but that will just effect his home run totals. If he was anywhere else, I would probably predict 20 home runs for him. But considering no one on the team had 20 last season, this is a safer guess.
In the end, we traded a backup catcher for an All-Star second baseman. When that's the case, you pull the trigger each and every time.
One of the biggest trades over the past week landed Renteria in Atlanta after the Braves were unable to renegotiate a contract with their shortstop Rafael Furcal. Atlanta has always been high on Renteria, and after his poor 2005 season, Boston lost theirs.
In return came Andy Marte, a 6'1" righty third base prospect who ranked 9th by Baseball America in their 2005 Top 100 prospects list. Right ahead, oddly enough, of Hanley Ramirez who Boston traded to Florida earlier in the off-season.
Renteria struggled in Boston. That is evident with his 30 errors and his .276 batting average. Originally we thought Renteria would benefit hitting in Fenway, but a .266 batting average and three home runs in 304 at-bats tells a different story. He never really got the ball rolling, and that was his downfall. Then the crowd started to get on his back and he couldn't win us over.
Marte has all the potential in the world. This season at AAA Richmond, Marte played 109 games and got in 389 plate appearances. He hit 20 home runs, drove in 74 runs, and batted .275 with a .372 on-base percentage. And that is all at the tender age of 21 years-old.
Boston.com has the best scouting report for Marte:
Strengths: Marte's stroke has a natural slight uppercut that generates plenty of loft power. The ball jumps off his bat, and he drives the ball to all fields and is capable of hitting tape-measure shots. He's an aggressive hitter who makes pitchers pay for their mistakes, though he also can hit for a solid average and has patience at the plate. His walk rate increased substantially in 2005. In addition to being the quintessential power hitter at the hot corner, Marte continues to improve upon his above-average skills with his glove. Managers rated him the best defensive third baseman in the International League -- the fourth consecutive year he earned that honor in his league. He possesses excellent lateral movement and a strong, accurate arm. The Braves also love Marte's maturity and even-keeled approach to the game, both of which should lead to a seamless move to the majors once an opening arises.
Weaknesses: Like most power hitters, Marte will pile up some strikeouts. When he was struggling early in 2005, he fished for low-and-away breaking balls far out of the zone. His swing tends to get long when he tires, which also contributes to the whiffs. With his lower body continuing to fill out as he advances through his early 20s, Marte's speed continues to be his primary weakness. His speed is now a tick below average and he'll get slower as he gains more weight. However, his intelligence and knowledge of the game mean he's not close to a liability on the bases.
Marte, if brought up correctly, is the future of the Boston Red Sox. He can be the best Sox rookie since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997. It's just a matter of the Boston organization and if they use him correctly. There is no reason for Marte to suffer from KYS (Kevin Youkilis Syndrome). When he is ready, then start him. But if he's not ready, then don't rush him. Just do a favor for all of Red Sox Nation, Boston management, and obey by those simple rules.