Sunday, November 02, 2008
Since the rumor around a T-Rex signing has been addressed, but unfortunately won’t die. The Sox do have four real issues to address over the winter:
1) Catcher – who in both the short and long-term,
2) Centerfield – Coco, Ellsbury, or both,
3) Shortstop – Lugo, Lowrie, or both,
4) Starter – who can be counted on to make thirty starts.
The Sox should not offer Tek more than salary arbitration or a guaranteed one-year contract. Boras will do everything he can to find another suitor for Tek. Even if he does find a club, would they be willing to give up a high draft choice? Tek appears to be a Type A free agent. If so, would they be willing to outbid the Sox on a one-year deal? This scenario seems unlikely. He means more to the Sox than any other organization. It also seems doubtful that a club would offer Tek a multi-year deal after the season he just had, and if for only two years, Tek might not accept. He could want to prove 2008 was a fluke, and then head out to the market in a year for a $20M-two year deal. Regardless, Tek is the short-term “solution” for the Sox.
As far as the long-term, Coco Crisp should be dangled for a young backstop. Crisp proved himself with the bat this year and his glove has always been very good with the Sox. Plus, he is under a reasonable contract. The Cubs, other Sox and Braves are contending clubs that need a centerfielder. Both Chicago teams have nothing the Red Sox would highly desire (Nick Swisher would be interesting and a possibility if T-Rex signs with LAA, so Konerko would stay on the South Side). But Atlanta can offer minor league catcher, Tyler Flowers, as they Brian McCann locked up through 2013. Flowers hit 288/427/494 in A+ Myrtle Beach’s pitcher’s park. The strikeouts are the only concern in his numbers, but Flowers has upside, unlike Mark Wagner, who profiles as a backup. Each of the three scouting reports indicate that Flowers has work to do defensively. This would be a lower cost solution to the catcher of the future issue in Boston than the possibilities in Texass, where the Rangers will want Mike Bowden or Clay Buchholz in return for Salty, Teagarden, or Max Ram. Cost controlled MLB pitchers are the most valuable asset in the game.
Free agent Rocco Baldelli would be the first choice to replace Coco. He can play anywhere in the outfield and as a right-handed bat would complement Ellsbury, Ortiz and Drew nicely. Baldelli is a legit five-tool player, who is coming into a baseball player’s prime age years. He has great upside coming into 2009 and does not need a full-time job. Baldelli’s illness will get teams to shy away from the RI native, although the Rays are likely to be a suitor. Of course, the Sox can offer more dollars than Tampa. Baldelli should be a Red Sox and he would be a perfect fit - apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way.
Part II will be out some time soon that addresses the final two issues.