The Phillies are looking to trade high-priced closer Jonathan Papelbon, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
Papelbon, 33, is coming off a 2013 season in which he pitched to a 2.92 ERA, 131 ERA+ and 5.18 K/BB in 61 2/3 innings of work. Papelbon has long been one of the elite closers in the game, as he owns a stellar career ERA+ of 184 to go with 286 saves and a save percentage of 87.7.
With all that said, trading Papelbon will be a tall order for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro. That’s mostly because Papelbon is still owed a minimum of $26 million over the next two seasons, and that’s not counting a $13-million vesting option for 2016. (Yes, that was an insane contract for a guy who pitches 60 to 70 innings a season.)
On top of all that, Papelbon has a partial no-trade clause, is likely past his prime and, as CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweets, has alienated some parts of the Philadelphia clubhouse.
In other words, the only way the Phillies will trade Papelbon is if they pick a large portion of his remaining tab.
Not really any surprise in the weekend signing of Jonathan Papelbon to Philadelphia’s 4 year $50 million offer sheet… unless your Ryan Madson. Well, maybe some surprise that a deal of this magnitude for the premier closer in the market actually went down before Thanksgiving… and maybe some surprise that it would be the richest deal for a relief pitcher in baseball history (given that Mariano Rivera is part of the history), but certainly not that Papelbon landed in a Phillies uniform. But there’s no need for ‘Why didn’t the Sox match?” or “Where’s the loyalty..?” or any of that pouty-faced crap.
Toronto management, in recent days, noted how the asking prices from many of the FA closers was seemingly ‘too high’… think it’s going to get better now? The Phillies have built a reputation in recent years of targeting a player they want, then through either trade or free agency, landing him. Nuff’ said. More power to them.
Papelbon, to his credit, lived up to his mercenary foreshadowing. For several years now, Pap’ had only negotiated one-year deals while building towards his dip in the free agent pool (remember a few years ago when he joked about signing with the ‘Bombers to replace Rivera?), knowing he’d make a splash. Yes, there was a surplus (if that word could ever apply) of closers in this year’s FA Market, but Papelbon was the premier closer, ready for the premier closer’s payday and jumped on it. Boston has long said (preparing for moments like these) that they prefer not to pay too heavily for relief pitchers, which is one of those double-edged swords… but either way, congrats to Papelbon for getting a massive, record-setting payday and doing so with a club that will annually contend for a championship. It was also noted that he will continue to wear #58, but will obviously be changing his intro music.
So, technically, if we believe what Ben Cherington would tell us, this should clear the way for the Sox to bring back Big Papi. Since the idea was to bring both back on deals that ‘made sense’, now it’s only Ortiz sense of fairness to deal with and it won’t be cheap to ‘show the love’. Ortiz however is in a much different situation as his options are far more limited. While several teams have ‘talked’ of their interest in Ortiz, many have not been of the big market contending types and none have been from the National League. The Pinstripes have quietly addressed Big Papi, but nothing serious as they have more internal DH candidates than external (hence letting Jorge Posada walk). While I see him landing back at Fenway, if he’s unsigned going into mid-December, it could be just to see what the left-over Prince/Pujols market in the American League will look like and then all bets are off.
With nearly 200 Free Agents on the market this winter, there’s oodles of Hot Stove speculation, especially since The Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs and both the Phillies and Yankees dropped out in the first round.
Looking at the list, here are a few FA’s that I feel the Sox should give consideration and in the order most of the experts have them ranked.
C.J. Wilson, SP: Wilson is the top pitcher in the market and deservedly so. He’s won 15 games the last two seasons as part of the Texas Rangers machine but fell apart in this years playoff run. The talent pool for starters is thin and Wilson will probably command a greater price tag than the $82 million or so both John Lackey and A.J. Burnett received, and that would be a lot for a guy who’d project as the 3rd or 4th starter. Inquire but move on. (Signed by LA Angels @ Winter Meetings)
Roy Oswalt, SP: Oswalt, as he did in Philadelphia, could fill the #4 hole in the Sox rotation, but as the Phillies already established by declining his option, it won’t be for silly money. Chances are he could return to Philly, but the Rangers (he’s established in the Lone Star State) and probably Yankees will inquire with some real interest.
David Ortiz, DH/1B: Big Papi would be foolish to leave his folk-hero status in Beantown but this is a business and easily his last chance at the big paycheck. Aside from the Scarlet Hose, I feel the Angels and Rangers could be real contenders for his services while Toronto, Seattle, Minnesota and Cleveland test the waters. The ‘Bombers could send out a phone call or two just to p!ss of Sox fans. (Accepted arbitration from Boston)
Mark Buehrle, SP: Many ‘in the know’ have mentioned St. Louis as a possibility while others believe he’ll stay put in Chicago. He’s a good talent and calming presence worth a look. Since Texas, Miami, possibly the Angels and probably Yankees will be looking, we should too. (Signed by Miami Marlins @ Winter Meetings)
Jonathan Papelbon, RP: Cherington has said he’d love to bring back both Ortiz and Papelbon for deals that make sense to everyone… however Pap’ is the best closer on the market and will be of interest to Philadelphia, possibly Miami (a showboat presence for a showboat manager) and any other team who can both spend big and be a contender. If he’s not in Boston, look in the Phillies bullpen. (Signed by Philadelphia 11/13)
Ryan Madson, RP: Philly could be looking to keep him as he might be an alternative to Papelbon or a Heath Bell. Madson has progressed nicely over the past few seasons and depending on what Boston plans to do with Daniel Bard or Aceves (convert them or make one closer in waiting), with or without Pap’, Ryan should be on the radar. (Signed by Cincinnati 1/11/12)
Grady Sizemore, OF: Sizemore is not the Indians slugger from just a few scant years ago, but he is still only 29 and worth a look. A year removed from microfracture surgery most believe Grady should be eased back in to a starring role, getting 70 to 80 starts as a OF/DH platoon. Rushing back to be the Cleveland slugger and star outfielder may have been what caused his several setbacks. He could be worth a one or two-year deal to a big market team with room for him in such a situation. Both he and Josh Willingham present better alternatives to Carlos Beltran (whom I omitted from this list). (Signed by Cleveland 11/29)
Heath Bell, RP: All signs point to Bell staying put in San Diego but he’s definitely worth the effort of a phone call or two should the Papelbon contract drag out or just not materialize. (Signed by Miami Marlins @ Winter Meetings)
Josh Willingham, OF: Willingham played in Oakland whose stadium, the O.co, is massive and still put out 15 homers and a respectable slugging percentage. Now, put that right-handed bat in Fenway and watch his numbers flourish. He could platoon well in RF and present a viable option to Carlos Beltran. (Signed by Minnesota 12/14)
Paul Maholm, SP: A left-hander on the market is going to get attention no matter what (see Darren Oliver and soon to be returning Jamie Moyer), so at 29 Maholm could be worth a look. He finished the season with a shoulder problem sending him to the DL, but his consistency to cause grounders could be a great lefty complement to Lester in the rotation. (Signed by Chicago Cubs 1/10/12)
Jonathan Broxton, RP: He’s a reclamation project coming back from non-reconstructive elbow surgery, but then again the Sox love those low-risk high-reward incentive laden contract players. With the way the bullpen collapsed in September, call him. (Signed by KC Royals 11/29)
Kerry Wood, RP: Wood has salvaged his career as a late-inning specialist (if only Brad Penny would follow his lead) and put the gloom of lost potential in the past. The Sox considered him at the trade deadline the last two seasons, so there’s no reason not to consider him now. (Signed by Chicago Cubs 1/13/2012)
Jim Thome, DH: Thome could present a poor man’s solution to David Ortiz should Big Papi take his talents elsewhere. Thome is a legendary clubhouse presence and could still hit a few of those HOF home runs at Fenway’s friendly confines. I expect he’ll return to Cleveland (if the Indians ‘do the right thing’) but anyone in the AL who can’t land Ortiz or Beltran may come calling. (Signed by Philadelphia 11/5)
Hideki Matsui, DH/OF: Like Thome, Godzilla could find a late career flourish in Fenway as Big Papi’s replacement. He’s still a threat in the middle of the line-up and my gut tells me he’ll continue the pilgrimage north (LA to Oakland) to Seattle and play alongside Ichiro for the Japanese owned Mariners.
Takashi Saito, RP: He’s older but still a workable component to a bullpen. Plus, we’ve had him before. Worth the look. (Signed by Arizona 12/12)
Jason Varitek, C: ‘Tek appeared to adapt well to his new role of mentor/back-up to ‘Salty for the majority of the season. As a tag team, their numbers were comparable to many others at catcher in the league, especially during the mid-months when the Sox were the best team in all of baseball. Ryan Lavarnway is still at least a half-season from a steady role on the big club, and while some have called for any old veteran to back-up ‘Salty, I say stick with what works. Let him continue to groom Jarrod, then work more with Lavarnway and transition from mentor to his next life as an MLB coach and future manager. His silence during ‘The Fallout of Francona’ and ‘Pitcher-gate’ (after all, he is The Captain) is the only reason I could see him not being offered a return. As many Yankees fans have noted in regards to FA Jorge Posada, I can’t see ‘Tek in another uniform.
Tim Wakefield, SP/RP: Like Varitek, The Time Lord is a proven veteran commodity for the Sox. He can pitch from wherever he is asked to and can flash that knuckleball on many an occasion. He’s 6 wins away from tying both Clemens and Young for all time on the Red Sox wins list, and could easily get there with a solid rebound year. While he too was silent during ‘The Fallout of Francona’ as well as ‘Pitcher-gate’, he’s an established veteran that could assist the new manager in the rotation, bullpen and clubhouse. Though, like in the case of ‘Tek, it may just be sentimentality.
Isn’t it crazy that the Hot Stove season can be just as exciting as the real deal?
Due to the ongoing CBA negotiations and other technical stuff which isn’t expected to be resolved till the Thanksgiving time-frame, the real heat of the Hot Stove could be closer to December.
Teams that could definitely make a splash:
The Los Angeles Angels. Several members of the Halo’s front office were let go following the rather inept offseason of 2010-2011. The ‘Napoli’ fiasco (turning Texas down and then trading him to Toronto knowing Texas would obtain him from the Jays) and taking a pass on Adrian Beltre (who lives 30 minutes from the Stadium) who both went on to solidify their only division rival (well, with money, anyway) and have great postseason stats will do that. Even with the division facing expansion (The Houston Astros joining the AL West) the Rangers are their biggest foe (in town rival Dodgers should be fairly quiet facing their sale to new ownership) and the Angels need to make up ground to keep pace.
The Miami Marlins: New stadium, new branding and a good deal of dollars to invest. The Fish are looking to become ‘Latin America’s Team’ and have already taken a few steps to push that. Signing Ozzie, Latin baseball’s poster boy went a long way as did the geographical name change but look for a few changes in the playing personnel too, especially with a number of Latin free agents available and the owner’s decision to increase payroll.
The Washington Nationals: They’ve rebuilt and now it’s time to contend. The Nat’s have shown some signs of brilliance and an ability to contend in the NL East (the Braves and Phils aren’t going anywhere) with the talent assembled. Like Miami, they have money to spend and a hungry fan base. Plus being friends with Scott Boras helps.
The Chicago Cubs: Theo has arrived and brought a number of his former Red Sox employees with him to build a new Dynasty in baseball’s only other historic Cathedral. He may not have as much payroll as he did in Boston but he has enough to make a splash and be taken seriously in the market. No, the Cubs won’t be serious playoff contenders next year, but building for two and three years down the road starts right now.
The Los Angeles Dodgers: No, I don’t see them being serious contenders for Prince Fielder (though they should have been under better circumstances) or the top five to ten in the market, but with a pending sale both Frank McCourt and MLB may believe a few prize pieces to complement the established core could go a long way to frost the cake.
The New York Mets: Again, I don’t see a lot of big name consideration but the brain trust finally came to the overdue decision to bring in the fences at CitiField and by cutting loose Jose Reyes and possibly David Wright they’ll have money to spend on some flashy re-treads who could show some power. The owner’s financial situation may be too shaky for a Pujols or Fielder to settle on. Plus they need to contend with the Yankees on the back page.
Now, I’m not expecting the Sox to be big players in the market, they have a set team and may be playing ‘gun-shy’ because of their recent past signings (Crawford, Lackey, multiple members of the bullpen), but they will dabble and pick some fruit from the lower B & C tier. After all, anyone in their right mind knows Carl Crawford will rebound and so for that matter could John Lackey. If I had a bum arm, a wife with cancer who decided to divorce me and was in a generally p!ss poor mood for the entire season… yeah, I’d be a rather poor teammate, drinking and fast food pickin’ in the clubhouse who had one of the worst starting pitching seasons in Sox history (and we had Matt Young in early 90’s too.. Yeesh!). Just remember, now he has something to prove (or at least should) and will be easier to off load if he turns it around.
Anywhoo! Here is a list of the Scarlett Hose free agent players: Erik Bedard, J.D. Drew, Conor Jackson, Trever Miller, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. Obviously, of these eight, Big Papi and Pap’ are the one’s to watch while Wake and ‘Tek are the sentimental faves.
David Ortiz: A Type-A free agent who has ranked in most experts Top 10 or close to it. Yes, he had a great year, almost a ‘comeback’ year but in the end it was a ‘contract’ year. Papi has the cache to demand his price for a what will probably be his last big payday but the market for a professional DH has dwindled greatly. Sure, the power is there and he can still be a middle of the order threat in the right line-up (taking home his 5th Silver Slugger), but the stars still need to align both contract wise and probably (with most veteran players) championship caliber talent wise as well. No, he won’t be as beloved elsewhere. He’s a big personality and a great media darling but he’s a part of Red Sox lore and you can’t just transplant that, even if he did shoot himself in the face with the ‘Yankees are great’ comments in the Francona/Theo fallout, plus the fact Youk may require more DH time to avoid these late season breakdowns, especially with Will Middlebrooks seasoning in Pawtucket. I don’t forsee much NL interest due to his limited mobility at first.
Teams who might show interest:
1. Boston: Obvious.
2. Los Angeles Angels: A big-ticket draw who can re-shape that line-up in a hurry and appeal to LA’s latin fan base. They are contenders in the West and would sign him to keep Texas from thinking about it.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: A power hitter who does well at the Rogers Center but they Jays could climb as high as 3rd in the AL East.
4. The Texas Rangers: A world champion and veteran presence who could change the face of an already great line-up. If they can’t sign Prince Fielder, he may be a power hitting 2nd chance prize.
5. New York Yankees: He’s a part of Boston’s folk-lore, so he’s worth a look just as the Sox looked at both Jeter and Mo Rivera last off-season. They’re the ‘Bombers so they can afford him and will obviously be in contention, but they don’t need him and don’t really have the roster space. With A-Rod declining in the field, he’ll need more DH time to avoid injury as will a grooming Montero, aging Posada (should they re-sign him) and possibly Jeter as well.
I see him staying put, but if the Angels or Rangers offer 3 years and silly money…
Jonathan Papelbon: Type-A free agent who had a good rebound year but more importantly progressed as a leader with maturity. Pap’ has said for years he’s been drooling to hit the market and I don’t see him jumping without due diligence. There are several other closers on the market, however, Papelbon is obviously the best pick, ranking in the mid to late teens on most experts FA lists.
1. Boston: Obvious
2. Philadelphia: The closer’s role has been somewhat by committee the last few seasons and after the downfall against the Cards in the NLDS, they may be the serious contenders for a proven closer.
3. Los Angeles Angels: He’d go great with the Rally-Monkey.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers: Would be another jewel to package with the young core to entice a new owner.
5.1 Washington Nationals: If they’re making an honest push, they’ll make contact but K-Rod or maybe even a Joe Nathan could be a cheaper alternative if Prince or Reyes are on the radar.
5.2 Chicago Cubs: The Cubs can offer a ‘reasonable’ contract, and Theo’s experience will definately dictate that as the former Sox GM praised Pap’s progress as a mature leader who found the next level in his game.
If he doesn’t go to Philly, the Sox may be the next best landing spot for a big payday and shot at another title. If he can accept a leadership in rebuilding role, Theo’s Cubs could be a very distinct Darkhorse candidate.
Tim Wakefield: Sure, he’s closing in on tying both Clemens and Young for all time Sox wins and is old enough to say he played in Scarlett Hose with the Rocket, but he fits in where ever he is asked and he’s still the Time Lord who can flash some brilliance in the flutterball. His silence in the ‘Pitcher-gate’ fall out may go against him as a veteran leader in a clubhouse looking for change.
Jason Varitek: He rebounded a bit with a lighter work load in his role as mentor/back-up to ‘Salty for the majority of the season. With Lavarnway still needing some seasoning in Pawtucket for both his defensive and offensive prowess (probably a mid-season call up with some back-up catcher/DH duty), I can see ‘Tek coming back for one more year as back-up before transitioning to his life as a coach and manager in the major leagues. Like Wakefield, he may suffer from the silence regarding ‘Pitcher-gate’ and the fall-out may go against him.
Now, a few of the other groceries available in the winter market…
1. St. Louis Cardinals: He’s a an established legend in a rabid baseball town and two-time WS Champion with the ‘Cards. However, LaRussa was his mentor and King Albert may not be giving a hometown discount.
2. Miami Marlins: The Marlins should be hip deep in the biggest Latin player this side of Ozzie Guillen, who just happens to be the new manager for the Fish. While increasing payroll, it still might be too steep to relocate the King.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays are looking to compete in the AL East and obviously Pujols would be the trigger to get them on the right track. He’d put a$$es in the seats but probably limit them beyond that.
4. Los Angeles Angels: Since the Dodgers can’t do it, it’s up to the Halos to try to bring one of baseball’s biggest marquee names to LA. Arte Morneo would love to put this Latin juggernaut in the line-up, but may need to pick up more pitching and line-up depth for the money.
5. New York Mets: Nothing serious, but it would trump the Yankees Hot Stove season on the back pages.
This will probably drag out but will make a great Christmas present to either Miami or front-runner St. Louis.
Prince Fielder, 1B: He’s only 27 and been one of the best hitters in either league for the past six years. Probably not A-Rod money (Rodriguez was younger in his initial free agency), but easily Mark Texiera dollars.
1. Washington Nationals: He’s the cornerstone to build on and become the new ‘it’ team in the NL East. They have the money to spend and have taken years to rebuild to this point. Baltimore is an afterthought in this mid-Atlantic market and the Nats can finally put the Montreal stigma in the rear-view mirror.
2. Texas Rangers: The Rangers, for all their power and prowess, went to the WS without a bona-fide 1st baseman. Adding Prince shores up the corner position, adds incredible power to an already potent line-up and ensures Texas a ticket to the dance for years to come.
3. Chicago Cubs: Theo will call in for King Albert but could give serious consideration for the Prince instead. Fielder is younger and will most likely be cheaper, but could easily carry the hopes and dreams of Cubs fans while kicking Brewers fans in the gut. Plus, one would think the smaller confines of Wrigley may increase those already gaudy numbers. It may be the first big step in Theo’s plan for the future.
4. St. Louis Cardinals: Pujols is obviously the priority but should talks stall, turn ugly or just not meet on paper, another star of the NL Central certainly couldn’t hurt.
5. Darkhorse: It’s hard to imagine an off-season like this, with a player like Prince Fielder, where both the Dodgers and Mets are basically tied up in a corner and forced to watch. This could give teams like Miami, Seattle or Toronto a chance to get into a better negotiating position.
Too close to call for me. The Cubs offer history and a massive media market to a shy kid who could be the darling of a hungry fan base while Texas may be the best chance at a quick fix WS title. I’d avoid St. Louis and the endless comparisons to Albert and settle for Washington, whose money is still green, if I had to.
1. Miami Marlins: Jose is friends with Hanley Ramirez (who already supposedly stated he’d move to third or another bag for his buddy) and could flourish under Ozzie Guillen. If Pujols is off the radar, signing Reyes and maybe an Aramis Ramirez could go a long way remaking and re-branding ‘Latin America’s Team’.
2. Washington Nationals: Again, they have the money and he could fit nicely with what the Nats hope to do this offseason.
3. San Fransisco Giants: Jimmy Rollins may be a better investment for the G-Men but I look for them to make a fairly serious inquiry on a still moderately young big name.
4. New York Mets: It’s a longshot at best but he’s been there, has a fan base and is still marketable as a Met.
5. Darkhorse: The Red Sox may only be a bit off the radar if they feel Jose Iglesias is going off track, especially since Scutaro isn’t a long-term fix. St. Louis is in the market as well and don’t count out interest from the Yanks (Jeter and A-Rod are aging…).
I can easily see him amending his asking price / years to be part of something special in Miami. Anywhere else, he’s cashing in.
C.J. Wilson, SP: He’s had a couple of above average regular seasons now, but fell apart in the playoffs. However mediocrity is always rewarded (John Lackey & A.J. Burnett) when starting pitching is thin.
1. Texas Rangers: Texas is certainly a good place to be these days, so I’d be surprised if he wanted to leave. But if the Rangers are going for Prince Fielder then it may tie things up.
2. Los Angeles Angels: Hometown OC kid who the Halos can afford to add to an already impressive front half of the rotation (and lure away from rival Texas).
3. New York Yankees: He’s a big-ticket AL pitcher. Nuff’ said.
4. Boston Red Sox: I think the Sox will take a fairly serious look at a young guy who can win 15 games. I think the Bombers will take it more seriously as Cherington may want to avoid a big-ticket pitcher for a rehab/low-cost alternative for the #4 and #5 starter.
5. Darkhorse: Obviously each of the bigger market teams will have a look with Chicago (both), St. Louis, Washington and maybe even Seattle on the bubble but he has WS experience now and again the market is thin.
The Angels should be able to pry him free, especially if he’s perceived by Texas as a choke artist in the playoffs.
Carlos Beltran, OF: 2011 was supposed to be the contract year but once he got to San Fransisco the remainder of the year stalled out on him. There’s still a market for his bat, even if his outfield mobility is waning. The Red Sox and Yankees are expected to make calls on him as are several other clubs. I’d imagine he’ll land in the AL for a platoon OF/DH role but probably won’t be worth the years/money expected. Grady Sizemore may be a better alternative for someone wanting to take a chance.
Roy Oswalt, SP: He’s older and obviously a bit more hittable, but he’s still Roy Oswalt. He’s not necessarily out of Philadelphia, but he’s going to be cheaper if he’s in. Most teams will call in on this one, especially from the NL, but The White Sox, Red Sox and Yankees love older innings eaters who cost money. The Rangers will probably give some serious consideration for mid-range money for the guy who carried the Astros for years.
Jimmy Rollins, SS: He’s not the same player he was four or five years ago but his skills, passion and leadership could easily make him a valuable alternative to Jose Reyes. He’s looking for four years, but an incentive laden three years plus an option for a contender may work. Both the Cardinals and Giants could go deep for his services, but San Fransisco might win out as the Cards wait on Pujols. Washington and Seattle (and don’t count out the Mets) could call on him for some veteran stability as well.
Grady Sizemore, OF: He’s not going to rate very high on anyone’s FA list due to his injury plagued past, but he’s only 29 and will be a year removed from micofracture surgery. For a big market team in need of a platoon OF/DH type, he could definitely be worth a try. Boston should be on the phone with serious consideration (after all, they used to have J.D. Drew) as could a team like the Rays. If he gets the right situation and is held to under a hundred games, it could supply enough rest to build towards his old self. He could fall somewhere between Carlos Beltran and a Josh Willingham.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B: He opted out of Chicago which may have saved Theo the buyout fee. One of the better hitting 3rd basemen in the NL, there aren’t a lot of options on the market this off-season. Definitely not Adrian Beltre but may translate as a 3B/1B/DH for an AL club. Look for the Miami Marlins to give a serious look as a Pujols fall back plan to team with Reyes and Hanley.
David Ortiz, DH/1B: see above.
Ryan Madson, RP: Like Oswalt, he’s not necessarily out of Philly, but with the steps he’s taken in the past few seasons he’s definitely sought after. The Phillies and Red Sox (depending on what they plan to do with Bard) could be at the top of the list (especially if both end up scrambling for Papelbon) but so could any big market team in need of late-inning help.
Edwin Jackson, SP: Yes, he’s a WS Champion but he’s been traded more than a few times and you really have to wonder why for such a young and seemingly capable guy. He’ll command a salary in the market (perhaps too pricey for a #4 or #5 type guy the Yankees or Red Sox need) but that could leave anyone to step-up.
Jonathan Papelbon, RP: see above
Carlos Pena, 1B: His average was down but over all Pena still performed for the Cubs. Most figure he’ll land in Milwaukie to replace Prince Fielder but I could see the Rays (he has a history), Rangers (if they don’t land Fielder) and Pirates (could be cheap but established) calling as well.
Heath Bell, RP: His K’s were down but he’s still a possible alternative to Papelbon or maybe a Madson. Probably staying in San Diego, he could still command more than a few inquiries.
Francisco Rodriguez, RP: K-Rod will probably get a lot of attention as a Papelbon alternative even though he’s still a 9th inning rollercoaster. A few teams will probably call for his set-up qualities as well as closing prowess, the Reds and Red Sox among them but look for Ozzie’s Marlins to make a big push.
Josh Willingham, OF: Even though he played in the caverns of Oakland’s O.co Stadium, Willingham still posted respectable numbers. Moving to a smaller home field will probably work wonders for him. The Mets, Red Sox, Braves and Rays could come calling. Boston could be a viable option as they need a right-handed RF in Fenway to platoon.
Johnny Damon, DH/OF: Damon has transitioned well from everyday outfielder to spot starter/DH and mentor for teams with younger emerging talent just as he did in Detroit and most recently Tampa. Plus he can still hit. Arizona would appear to need someone to fill those shoes and maybe even the Cubs (Theo won a title with Johnny) but I see him staying in the AL, possibly for Toronto, Seattle or the Angels if not returning to Tampa.
Now obviously there are roughly 200 free agents on this year’s market. I’m not covering them all, just touching on some of the more notable players crossing everyone’s wish lists. There are a lot of B and C type players, veterans, rehabs and retreads who will be circulating as well. In my next post, I’ll touch upon a few more who I feel the Red Sox in particular should explore.
With questions of ‘The Best’ or ‘Top 5’, ‘Top 10’ and so on I figured I’d take a moment to look over the hallowed halls of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
These are the basics…
The Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame was instituted in 1995 to recognize the careers of former Boston Red Sox baseball players. A 15-member selection committee of Red Sox broadcasters and executives, past and present media personnel, and representatives from The Sports Museum of New England and the BoSox Club are responsible for nominating candidates.
The criteria for selection into the Hall is as follows:
- Player to be eligible for nomination must have played a minimum of three years with the Boston Red Sox and must also have been out of uniform as an active player a minimum of three years.
- Non-uniformed honorees such as broadcasters and front office execs are inducted by a unanimous vote of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame selection committee. The memorable moment will be chosen by the committee as well.
- Former Boston Red Sox players and personnel in the National Baseball Hall of Fame (NBHOF) in Cooperstown, New York will be automatically enshrined in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
- 1995: Roger Clemens’ first 20-strikeout game in 1986
- 1995: Carlton Fisk’s game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series
- 2000: Dave Henderson’s game-winning home run in Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series
- 2002: Earl Wilson’s no-hitter on June 26, 1962
- 2004: Bernie Carbo’s pinch-hit home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series
- 2006: Dave Roberts’ steal of second base in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series
- 2008: Ted Williams’ home run in his final Major League at-bat on September 28, 1960, versus the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park
- 2010: Tom Brunansky’s diving catch of Ozzie Guillén’s line drive in the ninth inning of the season ending game that preserved the Red Sox victory sending them to the 1990 playoffs
And all of this information, sadly, still doesn’t lend itself to the easy selection of ‘Top Something Red Sox of all-time’. So I guess we’ll have to do it the hard way and look at the facts, stat for stat, player by player… oh boy. Now, to weave through the enormous bulk of the statistics and the lesser players who exist in the higher end of all-time numbers through the merit of less time served, I’m planning on setting a minimum of 800 games played in a Red Sox uniform.
Batting Average: Home Runs:
2. Wade Boggs .338 C. Yastrzemski 452
3. Tris Speaker .337 Jim Rice 382
4. N. Garciaparra .323 Dwight Evans 379
5. Jimmie Foxx .320 David Ortiz* 310
6. Johnny Pesky .313 Manny Ramirez 274
7. Manny Ramirez .312 Mo Vaughn 230
8. Fred Lynn .308 Bobby Doerr 223
10. Mo Vaughn .304 Rico Petrocelli 210
Runs Batted In: Games:
C. Yastrzemski 1844 C. Yastrzemski 3308
Ted Williams 1839 Dwight Evans 2505
Jim Rice 1451 Ted Williams 2292
Dwight Evans 1346 Jim Rice 2089
Bobby Doerr 1247 Bobby Doerr 1865
Manny Ramirez 868 Wade Boggs 1625
Jimmie Foxx 788 Rico Petrocelli 1553
Rico Petrocelli 773 Jason Varitek* 1520
Mo Vaughn 752 Dom DiMaggio 1399
1. C. Yastrzemski 646 Harry Hooper 130
3. Dwight Evans 474 Buck Freeman 90
4. Wade Boggs 422 Bobby Doerr 89
5. Bobby Doerr 381 Larry Gardner 87
6. Jim Rice 373 Jim Rice 79
7. David Ortiz* 331 ‘Hobe’ Ferris 77
9. Jason Varitek* 305 Ted Williams 71
10. N. Garciaparra 279 Freddy Parent 63
Bases on Balls: Runs Scored:
Ted Williams 2019 C. Yastrzemski 1816
C. Yastrzemski 1845 Ted Williams 1798
Dwight Evans 1337 Dwight Evans 1435
Harry Hooper 826 Bobby Doerr 1094
Bobby Doerr 809 Wade Boggs 1067
Dom DiMaggio 750 Dom DiMaggio 1046
David Ortiz* 734 Harry Hooper 988
Jim Rice 670 David Ortiz* 812
Rico Petrocelli 661 Johnny Pesky 776
For the same reason of wading through the massive amount of statistics, I limited my selections of pitchers to a minimum 200 appearances in a Red Sox uniform.
Wins: Earned Run Average:
2. Cy Young 192 Cy Young 2.00
3. Tim Wakefield* 184 Dutch Leonard 2.13
4. Mel Parnell 123 Pedro Martinez 2.52
5. Luis Tiant 122 George Winter 2.91
6. Pedro Martinez 117 Tex Huson 2.94
7. Joe Wood 117 Roger Clemens 3.06
9. Joe Dobson 106 Lefty Grove 3.34
10. Lefty Grove 105 Luis Tiant 3.36
Strikeouts: Complete Games:
Roger Clemens 2590 Cy Young 275
Tim Wakefield* 1993 George Winter 141
Pedro Martinez 1683 Joe Wood 121
Cy Young 1341 Lefty Grove 119
Luis Tiant 1075 Mel Parnell 113
Joe Wood 986 Roger Clemens 100
B. Monbouquette 969 Tex Huson 99
Frank Sullivan 821 Dutch Leonard 96
Jim Lonborg 784 Joe Dobson 90
Innings Pitched: Shutouts:
1. Tim Wakefield* 2933.0 Roger Clemens 38
2. Roger Clemens 2776.0 Cy Young 38
3. Cy Young 2728.1 Joe Wood 28
5. Mel Parnell 1752.2 Dutch Leonard 25
6. Bob Stanley 1707.0 Mel Parnell 20
7. B. Monbouquette 1622.0 Tex Huson 19
8. George Winter 1599.2 Joe Dobson 17
9. Joe Dobson 1544.0 B. Monbouquette 16
10. Lefty Grove 1539.2 Lefty Grove 15
Saves have been included simply for historical significance. I’m listing the full top ten, but lowering the minimum to 100 appearances in a Red Sox uniform.
1. Jon Papelbon* 208
2. Bob Stanley 132
3. Dick Radatz 104
4. Ellis Kinder 91
5. Jeff Reardon 88
6. Derek Lowe* 85
7. Sparky Lyle 69
8. Tom Gordon 68
9. Lee Smith 58
10. Bill Campbell 51
Now a lot of names repeat themselves in these lists of all-time stats, while a few names were omitted for lack of appearances, such as Pete Runnels for a few hitting categories and pitchers Jon Lester and Josh Beckett for strikeouts as well as Babe Ruth for a number of pitching categories including ERA (4th with 2.19), complete games (8th with 105) and shutouts (11th with 17). I left out stats such as Extra Base Hits, Slugging and On-Base percentages as they were simply more of the same names in different order. You can view them yourself here: http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/history/all_time_leaders.jsp
Okay, there are the stats for the most part (no, I’m not including fielding stats because a few of the categories are geared towards infielders, particularly first basemen and catchers), so lets take a look at award winners.
Most Valuable Player: This is the BBWAA MVP award created in 1931, and does not include the Chalmers Award (1911–1914) or the League Awards (1922–1929).
Dustin Pedroia* (2008), Mo Vaughn (1995), Roger Clemens (1986), Jim Rice (1978), Fred Lynn (1975), Yaz (1967), Jackie Jensen (1958), Ted Williams (1949 & 1946) and Jimmie Foxx (1938).
Rookie of the Year:
Dustin Pedroia (2007), Nomar Garciaparra (1997), Fred Lynn (1975), Carlton Fisk (1972), Don Schwall (1961) and Walt Dropo (1950).
Now lets take a look at a few more historical league leaders…
… We’ll cover hitting first…
|Home Run Champions|
|Triple Crown: Batting|
|Year||Player||Avg., HR, RBIs|
|1967||Carl Yastrzemski||.326, 44, 121|
|1947||Ted Williams||.343, 32, 114|
|1942||Ted Williams||.356, 36, 137|
… And now the Pitching…
|Triple Crown: Pitching|
|Year||Player||Wins, ERA, Ks|
|1999||Pedro Martinez||23, 2.07, 313|
|1901||Cy Young||33, 1.62, 158|
Now, for the sake of being fairly thorough and not wanting to completely leave the legendary defensive efforts in limbo, here are the list of Gold Glove Winners…
So, has any of this cemented anything? No… but it has provided a little bit more depth into the varied history of the players who have worn the Red, White and Blue of the Boston Americans across the many decades. Looking at a few of these league leading categories, it also sheds some light on periods where offense seemed to overshadow pitching and how both seemed to dwarf defense… but then again, the Yawkey regime was always known for the sizzle of the home run show over the actual steak of baseball.
Okay, for the next installment I’ll be looking at those who are inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and probably a few players who should have been but weren’t. Hey, you can’t make an omelete without breaking some eggs and sure as hell can’t have any sort of ‘Best of…’ or ‘Top (insert number here)..’ list without a little controversy.
It’s pretty f*%$!n’ tough being a Boston fan this week..!
Meanwhile the Bruins, who played valiantly in Game 1 dropped it with less than two in the third. OK, I can live with that. But why in the name of Eddie Shore’s balls couldn’t Mike Murphy, the stand-in czar of discipline for the NHL, suspend that idiot Burrows for a very blatant for everyone in two North American nations to see bite on Patrice Bergeron? They say the NHL is a Man’s sport… yet at least two people (Murphy and Commissioner Bettman) lack genitals. For those of you under the baseball rock… Burrows scored two goalstonight in Gamr 2, including the OT game winner, in a game everyone in a public position to judge the sport (NHL Network, ESPN, NBC.. etc..) agreed he should have been watching at home during his one game suspension. Congrats, he earned his playoff bonus.
Now, onto the Sox.
Pap’ and ‘Tek getting tossed in the late innings? WoW! Rough one. Speaking of Varitek, does anyone remember the trade that bought him and Derek Lowe to Boston way back when? The trade Dan Duquette engineered from Seattle? For Heathcliff Slocumb… what did Peter Gammons call him, oh yeah… ‘Fasten Your Seatbelt Slocumb’. Perhaps Pap’ has now earned that unwanted and unlikely moniker. Ever wonder why the Brass have steered away from trading Bard and brought in Bobby Jenks? Could it be for that same fear in the back of the mind reason? I have to admit, I’ve lost faith in him. Beginning last season and carrying into this season, I get nervous every time I see him make his way out the pen. He’s lost a bit off his fastball and appears to just not want to adjust. The American League got over the ‘fishface’ intimidation and adjusted, but he hasn’t. Why? He’s got the talent and demeanor to be dominant… but scrapes by some of the time.
I remember the feathers he ruffled when he made the comments regarding the Bronx Bombers possibly signing him after Rivera retired… but would they really? At this point?
Beckett suffered through two plus years of oft-injured mediocrity and what may have been perceived as being too comfortable before this season (much like The Rocket back in the ’95-’96 seasons). He’s come around and is pitching like the Beckett we traded for. Is Papelbon too comfortable? Dice-K is gone (not just for the season but probably for good), Lackey is nearing a return as is Jenks and while the rest of the bullpen is in flux Pap’ needs to be the anchor. Period. Call the NESN offices and ask his majesty the Eck to give you some lessons on ‘Closing Composure’. You don’t have to be great everyday… but we can’t keep fastening our seatbelt every time we’re ‘Shipping Off to Boston’… even if the defense and Umpires seem to be working against you.
While the rest of the ‘East is West.. we need to get back in the saddle. Tonight was a hard-fought lesson in survival… let’s try to make it count. Salty is coming around, A-Gon is hitting what will be a massive Fenway stride, Papi is looking five years younger and Crawford is finding his stroke… everyone else will follow. We just need to try to get them all to follow on the same page at the same time… meanwhile, we’ll all just have a pint and chill out.
And in the thick of it we appear to be…
No, not so much the Wild Card race with Tampa hitting the brick wall and Texas slowly crashing in the flames of injury but the AL East race. Upon waking up this morning, we are but 5 games back of the (insert catchy phrase of doom here) Yankees with three games in the season series still left to be played in our remaining two weeks of the regular season. Jeter, Texeira and Rivera… oh my!
Now, generally this time of year, the true New England sports fan becomes slightly
psychotic… with the Sox in the midst of the stretch run and the Patriots being two or three weeks in (1 – 1, just another reason to hate NY)… plus the Bruins preseason getting underway (so long Phil Kessel) and the Celitics gearing up for camp…. it makes you want to pull out the remaining hair that hasn’t turned prematurely gray or fallen out!
A few tidbits in passing….
This post-season may well rest in the hands of Victor Martinez, and rightfully so. V-Mart made the play of the entire Red Sox season last week in sacrificing himself (his knee in particular) to block the plate and prevent the Rays from scoring on such an incredibly close play. Sure, Tampa is out, but who knows what the outcome of that run scored may have been if it happened. Teams on the bubble can use a lot less as motivation to hurl themselves back into the race… nevermind the fact Vic could have been injured and brought a Grand Canyon sized hole to the three spot in the line-up. Easily, and I believe everyone would agree, Martinez has been the single biggest mideseason pick-up in recent Sox lore. Sure, Bay is no slouch, especially considering who he was traded for, Orlando & Doug for Nomar in ’04 sealed the deal in the long run for the Series title (and Larry Anderson will forever burn in the Lou Gorman designed trade for Jeff Bagwell… but that’s for another blog)… but Bay is a FA this off-season and neither Doug nor Orlando stuck for the full cup of coffee. Vic on the other hand is obviously a cog for the future. He’s a leader on the field and a very present voice and personality in the locker room. He credits ‘Tek for his success with the pitching staff, especially coming in mid-way and raves about the comfort level with his guys. He’s helped Buchholz settle in and volunteered to catch Wake (doing a stellar job of it too) all while playing two different fielding positions, spot filling at designated hitter and bringing a stability to the line-up not seen since Manny stopped being Manny and became a grumpy little pr!ck.
V-Mart also carries with him a lot of questions. Where does this leave Varitek next season? Both he and the club hold an option on his contract for 2010 and on top of that, he’s Jason Varitek. Do you drop him and try to use the money to help re-sign Bay or make the run for a Matt Holiday while promoting a Pawtucket talent to back-up? At the time of the trade, the Indians noted to Theo that Martinez shouldn’t be pushed to catch more than 100 or so games (as noted by Peter Gammons), meaning the current situation appears to work… this combined with the fact neither Varitek nor Mike Lowell can field their positions for more than half the season would lead you to believe it could remain status quo or one of them is getting ejected from the plane. With Lowell still a capable hitter and fill-in at the DH spot, all eyes again fall on Tek.
The Hot-Stove Season should be interesting and possibly quite heart-breaking.
NASA called and informed the NL that both John Smoltz and Brad Penny had returned to Earth. Thank God.
Speaking of returns… Dice-K put down the pastries and apparently felt like pitching well for a
team other than Japan this week, pitching two stellar performances to help cement the rotation going into October. Wakefield is due to return tonight though still suffering from his back problem and walking with a slight limp… granted he pitched well in his last few appearences with the same ailment, but the human back is such a touch and go thing. Should Wake be a no go for the October hunt, Dice-K appears to be a very viable option in the 4 spot… for now, that could change at a moment’s notice as has much of the staff’s fortunes this season. That doesn’t mean we won’t see one or the other out of the ‘pen. With Manny Delcarmen currently struggling, Wake or Dice-K could fill the middle/long relief hole in his spot.
Speaking of the ‘Pen, Billy Wagner has found himself a very comfortable role in the form of 7th or 8th inning holder /set-up guy… working well in conjuction with Saito/Okajima to bring in Pap. And what slightly immature closer didn’t want Wagner here? The bullpen, still ranking as one of the tops in all of baseball is looking fairly fresh, healthy and ready for the Hunt. Talk still swirls that Pap may be trade bait in the offseason with Bard pegged as the Closer of the Future. Either way, it’s good to see Papelbon smoothing out around the edges this past week and getting away from what Gammons refers to as “The Tower of Terror”.