It was the strangest thing. I watched a football game on Thursday, and the ads during each of the six hundred commercial breaks were for beer. No scary fonts, no blurry images of evil bankers or welfare cheats, no women in seven-figure homes worrying about the economy. Just good old-fashioned misogynist beer ads. In a weird way, it was kind of comforting. I guess something must have happened this week to change things back. But as it didn't involve baseball, let's move along.
This week, the first full week of free agency, is what's known in baseball as the "trial balloon" week. Or the "negotiation" week. Or the "testing the market" week. Or, most accurately, the "boring" week. The free agents have just been released, teams are still figuring out their needs and their budgets, and no one yet knows what the pricing will be like. (Sure, the Dodgers gave Brandon League $25 million, but if that's the deal that sets the market, then we're all in for some heavy drinking.) The Red Sox headed off one important part of this by re-signing David Ortiz. This was a move we can't rationally analyze here, because every time we think of Papi, we think of this or this or pretty much always this. So we brought in a ringer to determine whether Boston's decision to keep Ortiz around was the right one.
Another fan favorite, although one with nowhere near the history of Ortiz, came up for discussion in contract terms this week, as we all tried to decide how much Cody Ross is worth to the Sox. Buster Olney reported early in the week that Ross and the Boston front office were never close on a deal. Later reports that Ross is seeking a three-year deal worth $25 million goes a long way toward explaining that. Apparently the Orioles have been expressing interest in Ross, which... good heavens, please no. I'm fine with Ross leaving, though I'd like him to stay. Just not the damn Orioles.
So with Ross perhaps out of the picture, where will the Red Sox go in their quest to build a proper roster for 2013? Well, the Indians are trapped in a hopeless pit of existential despair. Additionally, their roster situation is out of whack. (That first was a Cleveland joke, kids.) Marc took a look at the overarching ways in which Cleveland and Boston could match up for trades. Ben considered Asdrubal Cabrera as one of the several targets Boston could consider at shortstop. Reports also swirled regarding a deal that would bring Justin Masterson and Shin-Soo Choo to Boston, thus filling Boston's roster with guys I have an irrational love for in fantasy drafts.
Much of this speculation focuses on Boston's outfield, but what about the pitching? If 2012 taught us anything, it's that pitching matters a tiny bit to a team's success. So what options are the Sox pursuing? One obvious option, given his success this year with the Yankees, is Hiroki Kuroda. Of course, that was with the Yankees, the team for whom Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, and Russell Martin (in whom the Sox also apparently have interest) magically became good again. So odds are if Boston signs Kuroda, he'll suddenly become sullen, beer-guzzling, and 5.50 ERA-prone. Because sometimes that's just how it goes. Another possibility is Tigers starter (and one-time Sox farmhand) Anibal Sanchez. Of course, none of this would really matter if it weren't for the struggles of theoretical Boston ace Jon Lester. Matt Sullivan analyzed those struggles this week.
In additional roster-filling news, Matt Kory considered the possibilities for Boston at shortstop, and concluded that they're probably best served by sticking with Jose Iglesias for a little while. The annual Gavin Floyd trade speculation has begun, and Ben talked about Boston's interest. Maybe aging center fielders with inflated defensive reputations are more your speed, in which case Torii Hunter is definitely a guy you want the Red Sox poking at. In an attempt to fill their now-gaping hole at first base, Boston's kicking the tires on both Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche.
There's a lot of offseason left, folks. It's already snowed here in Boston, but hopefully the hot stove will keep us warm with memories and anticipation of baseball for a few months yet. Enjoy the weekend.