Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The re-upping of Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez are all good moves. They are below market, one-year deals and give the Sox pitching depth. In this super model thin pitching market (Kyle Lohse is looking for $40 million according to Buster Olney), the Sox have nice assets that can be leveraged to make a blockbuster deal for Miguel Cabrera.
First off the negatives, Cabrera is fat and poor defensively. He would need to be a DH or first baseman until he regained his mobility if possible (Youk moves to third and Cabrera plays first base). Cabrera is a relative bargain but the club is only guaranteed two years of his service. And that’s it – two negatives that can be reasonably resolved by getting out of a negative, unmotivating environment and signing a long-term deal.
On to the positives, Cabrera is a hitting machine. Think vintage Manny and likely to get better as he enters his prime years. Cabrera can be scary good. He also fits the Sox main short and long-term need well – a young corner infielder with power. The lack of home runs is the reason for the inconsistent offense last season and the farm has only one power prospect, Lars Anderson, who is at least two years off. Cabrera can fill that void and if signed to a long-term deal could ease the transition from the Manny-Big Papi show.
The Marlins are rumored to be requesting “a pitcher and position player that are under three years of service time” and a prospect with starter at the Show potential. The Sox can meet that demand without damaging the organization. Jon Lester, Jed Lowrie, and one of the 2006 outfield class - Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, Jason Place could get the job done. (BTW, Lester, Lowrie and Ellsbury are all essentially the same age as Cabrera.)
Lester would be tough to give up, but he is a Marlins type pitcher - southpaw, power, athletic, and young. They are going to want him or Clay Buchholz. Buchholz’s stuff and potential is just too great to trade. Buchholz also has a better track record than Lester, although we don’t know much Lester’s cancer contributed to his less than stellar performance after Double-A. Lowrie is blocked by Dustin Pedroia and Julio Lugo. The Marlins could play him at short and move the error prone Hanley Ramirez to third, but the more ideal ready position player for the Florida is Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Marlins centerfield situation is bleak at both the minor and major league levels. Ellsbury would resolve that issue for the next three to six years. He is also similar to a past Florida centerfielder, Juan Pierre, but with the upside to become a Kenny Lofton. The Sox should be reluctant to part with Ellsbury because it would not allow them to trade Coco Crisp for Lester’s replacement in 2009 (Lowrie would not bring back that kind of value), which would likely necessitate a reach in the expensive free agent market. Regardless, Ellsbury should be included if that’s what it takes to bring the big wonder kid to Boston.
Lester, Ellsbury, plus an A-ball prospect or two is a lot to give up on the field and on the balance sheet, but Cabrera is a freak like Randy Moss and Kevin Garnett. Freaks do not grow on trees. The Sox can draft and develop another Lester or Ellsbury, but they are unlikely to find a Cabrera. The great work in player development and on the business side increasing revenues provides the Sox with the resources to bring in a possible a future Hall Of Famer. When these rare opportunities arise, the Sox need to pounce them.