Subtle moves. Questionable tweets. Interesting day.
Just the modern-day Hot Stove.
So the Sox finally pulled the trigger and moved Jed Lowrie and signaled an official end to the experiment. Not that Jed wasn’t a good player with flashes of brilliance and a load of potential, but you can only write so many checks based on potential. With Scutaro in the fold and Mike Avilas returning, Lowrie was becoming expendable. With Iglesias apparently progressing as he should in the minors, Lowrie became a commodity, a still youthful switch hitting shortstop who can play utility infield and has postseason experience. According to sources, Jed’s name was mentioned several times by inquiring teams and heard several more times during the Winter Meetings. This does beg the question if the Sox may have given too much on their end since Kyle Weiland was included… but also makes you wonder if the kid from Houston is just that good? Jed does have the potential and the will to be an everyday shortstop in the majors, and perhaps Houston will see a more regular, less brittle Lowrie. Melancon, 26, turned in a 2.78 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9, and 56.7% groundball rate in 74 1/3 innings in 2011, saving 20 games in 25 attempts. The right-hander won’t be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season and won’t hit free agency until after the 2016 campaign.
Signing Nick Punto (of the World Series winning St. Louis Puntos’) will solidify the infield and perhaps give the Sox the flexibility to rest Youk, platoon Marco and make further deals (the ever so undesirable Youkilis trade) to secure some solid starting pitching at the end of the rotation. Rumors have also stated that Sox are still showing an interest in veteran pitchers Roy Oswalt and the recently non-tendered (by Arizona) Joe Saunders. If Aceves and Bard are to be given full respect as potential starters, what does this signal? Aceves was a gold-brick as a spot starter and reliever last season, literally carrying the club at times. Valentine has basically said that Bard will either start or close… good thing he narrowed it down. Ryan Madson is still out there, but why pay for Madson if you wouldn’t pay for ‘Pap? There are still several proven, older closers out there… oh, and in the Sox pen as Bobby Jenks is still active and drawing a paycheck. Melancon would appear to shore up the questions of the back-end… but he really doesn’t. Unfortunately, only Ben and Bobby have the inside dope and I honestly feel it’s ‘closer by committee’ until Opening Day.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe Tweeted: Jason Varitek may still be in the picture for the Red Sox. Really? It seems hard to envision a deal between Varitek and the Red Sox, who have catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach, Ryan Lavarnway and Luis Exposito going into camp. No, it’s not unheard of for the Sox to sign a catcher and then trade him to start the season (remember Josh Bard?), but carrying Varitek too? That, if it is true, is an immediate signal that Lavarnway is not as ready as we’ve been led to believe. Some think he could be a mid-season call up to platoon a C/DH role while others say he needs another full season in Pawtucket to mature defensively. I’ve stated here several times, if you’re going to pay for a back-up veteran catcher who is mediocre or less offensively and only slightly better defensively, sign ‘Tek. If baseball is a game of intangibles… then ‘Tek brings a sh!tload of intangibles. He’s a mentor (already taken Salty to the next level), a teacher (Salty, the pitchers and younger guys, even the coaching staff), and basically a player/manager. Was he too quiet during ‘Chicken-gate’ or ‘The X-box Affair’ or whatever fuckin’ catchphrase inserted term they give the September fallout and the aftermath? Yes, he was. As the team captain he should have been as front and center as James T. Kirk, however no one has ever questioned his leadership as a whole and there has to be a reason. If I’m Bobby Valentine, I’m keeping Varitek around in some capacity. He’s an established, respected and WS tested veteran who does indeed bring the intangibles. Can you say Bench Coach?
Supposedly, there have been one or two teams out there interested in his services, so if that is true and Jason Varitek is indeed playing in the uniform of another team next season…. then all I have to say is, Thank You.