Last week, the Sox made a couple moves, most notably signing Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino to “bookend” 3-year/ $39 million deals. Is this enough? Are the Sox still in on Hamilton? Do they want Hamilton? Don’t they need pitching… desperately? Here is my take on what’s going on right now in Red Sox Nation.
As previously stated, the Sox signed Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino last week. It seems like the Sox had been circling Napoli for ages, and they probably have. He’s versatile, being able to catch, play first base, and DH. This is something I feel the Red Sox need, since having people in stuck positions and injuries popping up all over the place last year left them with much to be desired. Napoli is a career .259 hitter, but batted only .227 last year with the Rangers (.320 in 2011 though). He did hit 24 home runs last year, which is a welcomed sight for the Sox in order to protect David Ortiz. Plus, he’s only 31 years old, which would put him at 34 at the end of his contract. While 34 isn’t seen as “young,” by any baseball standards, players are still able to produce at 34. Plus, there’s the fact that Napoli crushes at Fenway (in the past three seasons, Napoli has hit .366 with 2 doubles, 6 home runs, and 15 RBIs).
The Sox also signed the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” to the same deal Napoli received. This one makes me scratch my head a little more. Victorino is 32 years and career .275 hitter, though he has been waning downward the past few years (.259 in 2010, .279 in 2011, and .255 in 2012). He has speed (39 stolen bases last year with the Phillies and Dodgers), and he has the ability to play all three outfield positions, though he mostly has played in center field. He’s won 3 Gold Gloves (2008-2010 in the NL) and has lead the NL in Triples twice (2009 and 2011). I’m not necessarily saying that signing Victorino is a bad thing (obviously he has had a lot of uptick over the past few years), but I was certain the Sox would re-sign Cody Ross.
The other, slightly more controversial, signing the Sox did was signing Jonny Gomes to a 2-year/ $10 million contract. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Jonny Gomes unless you count interviews I’ve seen with him on “Intentional Talk” and that he was one of the Rays involved in the bench-clearing brawl between the Sox and Rays where we all witnessed Coco Crisp’s excellent boxing abilities. Other than that, I’ve only heard “he’s a great ‘clubhouse’ guy.” So, stat-wise, he’s a career .244 hitter (.262 last year with the A’s). He had 18 homes runs last year and 47 RBIs. He can play both left and right field, though he seems to play the majority in left field. He’s also 32.
Though the Sox have checked in on both Hamilton and Cody Ross, and haven’t ruled either one out (Jacoby Ellsbury trade?), it would appear neither one is seen as a “must have.” The Sox outfield is pretty much set. They have some younger guys (Ciriaco, Gomz, Kalish) that can hang out in Triple-A to get playing time until they are needed. They have an over-abundance of catchers (Saltalamacchia, Lavarnway, David Ross, and Napoli) that can be pieces in a trade (for a pitcher?).
The Sox need pitching. They’re projected rotation at the moment is Lester, Buchholz, Doubront, Lackey, and Morales. Lester and Buchholz are set, no matter what whisperings of a trade we may hear (except for maybe a trade for Felix Hernandez, which will not happen). Doubront did fine last year, but he should be a number 4 or 5 starter. Lackey was out all of last season with Tommy John surgery, so no one is sure how he’ll come back. Plus, he’s least than desirable among the fans, no matter if he helped recruit Napoli or not (that’s the rumor). Morales was fine as a long-relief, 6th starter type of role, just not sure how I feel about him as our number 5 guy.
What to do? I’m going to declare right now that the Sox will not re-sign Matsuzaka. The Sox were said to make a 2-year/ $25 million offer on Ryan Dempster, which he declined (he wants 3 years). (Side note- if you’ve seen their interviews with Kevin Millar on “Intentional Talk,” could you imagine a team with both Dempster and Gomes?) Kyle Lohse and Anibal Sanchez are also desirable free agents. These three (Dempster, Lohse, and Sanchez) seem to be the best of the free agent starting pitchers, in my opinion, that are still available. I’m guessing the Sox won’t go more than 3 years on any of them, so not sure if they’d come to Boston (while Dempster is 36 and may not get more than 3 years, Lohse is 34 and Sanchez is 29). Keep in mind that Jamie Moyer (50 years old) has said he wants to pitch again.
Trades are always an option. The Sox are rumored to have checked in on R.A. Dickey with the Mets, but did not want to give up both Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. for 1 year of service by Dickey. It would be nice to have another knuckleballer with the Sox (oh Wakefield, how we miss you), but the team does not need to give up two of their best prospects for a year of service. (FYI- I’m currently reading R.A. Dickey’s memoir, and it is a very interesting read.)
People who know me know that I’m hopeful the Sox will make a trade with the Indians for Justin Masterson. He’d be a great number 4 or 5 starter, has worked with Farrell before, and he’s an “innings eater” (206.1 innings last year, 216.0 in 2011). Plus, he’ll only be 28 at the start of the season, and won’t be a free agent until 2015.
So, that’s just a quick review of what has happened and what may be on the horizon. Basically, the Sox need to make a few more (maybe major, maybe minor) moves in the next two months. Things will start to become clearer by February 1st, I’m thinking. Thanks for checking in.