Free agency is upon us in baseball. Better known as the silly season. We will hear lots of “agent-speak”, rumors, and more over the next several months. And, baseball fans will soak it all in.
Why not? It’s a fun time of year. You can dream big and hope your team’s GM makes a huge splash.
As for the Red Sox, the beauty of Theo Epstein and his Baseball Operations staff is that they dream big too. They cover pretty much every possible scenario you can think of as far as possible moves go. They have plans. Plan A first and if that falls through then it’s on to Plan B, etc… If Adrian Beltre signs elsewhere they are ready for it. You should feel good as a Sox fan with the people in charge.
Look at last season. People scoffed at the signing of Beltre. It worked out perfectly for both sides and the Sox worked out the deal with none other than super agent Scott Boras.
As for this off-season? Nothing would shock me. Wouldn’t be surprised to see some “out of nowehere” moves. I know there’s a big name out there that no one is thinking of that the Sox could wind up with. Or, maybe they finally get Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego or even Prince Fielder from Milwaukee. Or, maybe Daisuke Matsuzaka is dealt.
As for the big name free agents that are out there….Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth, and Carl Crawford…here’s my take:
I love Cliff Lee as a pitcher and I know the deal about “you can never have enough pitching”. However, he’s 32-years-old and will be looking for a 6-7 year deal for around 150-plus million dollars. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot to like about Lee. He’s durable. He’s notched 17 complete games in the past three seasons, including 7 last season. The past two postseasons he’s gone 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA with 3 complete games. And, if the Sox sign him it will be a major blow to the Yankees.
Also, a rotation of Lee, Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, and Lackey would be ridiculous. However, in watching the postseason year after year it seems like it’s just more than a great starting staff. Balance…from starting pitching to a great bullpen to a great line-up to defense is what wins a title. And, you have to wonder if Cliff Lee has had his great postseason run a la Sabathia last year or Beckett in 2007.
As for Jayson Werth while it’s true that he’s emerged as a very good player in the past several years, I’m not sure if he’s a “franchise player”. Do you see him hitting 3rd or 4th for Boston? I don’t. He’s more along the lines of an Adrian Beltre or Jason Bay bat.
I also think Werth benefitted immensely from his home ballpark. Last season with the Phillies on the road in 270 at-bats Werth hit .270 with 9 HRS and 34 RBI and an OPS of .838. At home in 284 at-bats, Werth hit .320 with 18 HRS and 51 RBI with an OPS of 1.000. I just think that the Philly ballpark sends balls flying out of there. I don’t see Fenway giving him that type of home dominance. Werth would also be coming to the American League and the tough AL East. And, he’ll turn 32 in May.
The guy I’d like to see come to Boston is Carl Crawford. He’s a game-changer as we’ve seen over the past several seasons.
He’s only 29(turns 30 next August). He plays great defense and comes in off a season where he hit .307 with 19 HRs, 90 RBI, 110 runs, 13 triples, and 46 stolen bases. He carried an OBP of .356 and a SLG% of .495.
I would also put him the three hole in the batting order. Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Crawford would be a dynamite 1-2-3 in front of Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew and maybe Beltre or Martinez.
In 2010, Crawford in 408 at-bats out of the two hole….hit .299 with 12 HRS, 58 RBI, a .353 OBP, and a SLG% of .480.
Out of the 3-hole with 192 at-bats(or about half of the 2nd spot)…he hit .323 with 7 HR, 32 RBI, with a .364 OBP and a SLG% of .526.
So, my preference is 1) Crawford, 2) Lee, and 3) Werth.
Let the silly season begin.