Reporting Dan Roche
BOSTON (CBS) — First off, I do think that Victor Martinez was a solid player for the Boston Red Sox in his year-and-a-half here. I think it said a great deal when Terry Francona immediately put the switch-hitter right into the 3rd spot in the batting line-up. Sure, he struggled big time with his throwing, but I thought he was much better the second half of last season.
With that said, you knew he wasn’t coming back here. Same goes for Adrian Beltre.
Theo Epstein finds a way to sign the guys he really, really wants here BEFORE they become free agents.
He did it with Josh Beckett. And, he made deals with the likes of Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, etc…while having them give up a year or two of free agency. Mike Lowell took less years (3 here, 4 elsewhere) and money because he wanted to stay. Pedro Martinez too. Not that Theo didn’t want those guys (or Victor), he just wanted them on his terms.
I firmly believe that if Theo wanted to keep Martinez in a Red Sox uniform, he would have offered him more than the 2 years he did during the season. He would have started at 3 years and 36-million or 4 years and 42-million dollars instead of making them his two final offers.
That’s the thing that makes me chuckle around here. People act like Theo Epstein has no idea what he’s doing on these things and that he wasn’t prepared for this.
Of course Theo has a plan. He has a Plan A, B, C, D, etc…. Theo spends all of his time going over all these things with his Baseball Ops people as well as ownership.
You can tell by his comments that he’s comfortable giving Jarrod Saltalamacchia a chance to be the every day catcher. He’s liked him for years. Now, he also is trying to bring a back-up catcher for the right price. Or perhaps, he feels he can land another catcher that will be the starter with Saltalamacchia backing him up.
Same goes for the scenario at 3rd base.
It said the world to me that Beltre had his locker cleared out BEFORE the season ended. Theo and Scott Boras pulled off a one year deal that was a risk/reward for both sides. And, it ended up working out for Theo short-term and Beltre/Boras long term. And, I’d be shocked if Beltre comes back here simply because someone else will give him more years and more money than Theo has in mind.
Now with that said, I still believe Theo wants to make a splash. Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Andre Etheir, Andrew McCuthcheon, Ryan Braun…etc. That kind of splash. Guys entering the prime of their careers that they can lock up for a long time and make them a cornerstone in Boston.
That’s what he wanted to do with Mark Teixeira. Simply didn’t work out.
He’ll be trying like heck to get the guy(s) that he wants in here this off-season, at the trade deadline in July, and next off-season.
Again, Theo also feels that he has talent in the farm system. Guys that can become productive every day players or pitchers. Just like Youkilis, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lester, Buchholz, Bard, etc.
If he’s right, he’ll have young players locked in to the point where he can 1) pay them if they blossom into MLB stars 2) go out and sign major free agents because he’ll have payroll and 3) trade for accomplished stars because of a strong system.
If he’s wrong, the team will struggle…never win another World Series…and be gone.
That’s the risk Theo is taking right now. And, he believes he’s right.