Winter hasn’t even officially started yet and baseball’s Winter Meetings is already history. If you’re a Marlins or an Angels fan, your head must be spinning. Too bad there are not many of the former. Lots of money being thrown around. My guess is that half way through all these insane contracts everyone involved (but the players and the agents) is going to be asking themselves why they thought it was a good idea in the first place. Just ask the Red Sox (Lackey, Dice-K, Lugo, Renteria, Drew, maybe Crawford).
Anyway, it’s a good time for a quick and meaningless evaluation of the state of the Red Sox:
1. The Ben Cherington era is certainly getting off to a major yawn. Here it is, the week of the winter meetings and the biggest piece of drama with this club remains the compensation from the Cubs for Theo Epstien.
2. If there is one thing we can say unequivocally about the Cherington era is that it has been marked by extreme cautiousness. It took two full months to replace Terry Francona with Bobby Valentine, and even then they could only muster enough nerve to give him a two-year contract.
3. Speaking of which, I believe that this half-hearted commitment to Valentine will ensure his failure. Players pay attention to things like this. If you have noticed, length of contract is almost always the biggest issue in free agent signings. Long contracts mean commitment; commitment means respect. That most of the important Red Sox players have longer contracts than Valentine signals to the bad apples… Beckett… that they can just ride out the Valentine years. In fact, the poorer they play, the quicker he is gone. It’s no coincidence that Terry Francona lost the respect of the team in the final year of his contract, when the front office balked at picking up his option. They say the hiring of Valentine was a “bold” move, but why did they have to do it so timidly?
4. I’m sorry that David Ortiz is coming back. Yes, he’s been a great player, but he is going to make over $14 million next year. That’s a lot of money for a DH who can’t play any other position and will probably be hit for against left handed pitching. It could buy a good-hitting right fielder AND some strong arms for the bullpen, pieces the Red Sox need more than DH, which could be handled by a platoon of Gonzalez, Youkilis, and Lavarnway, that would help keep the first two fresher during the long season. I just hope they don’t negotiate a two-year deal, because that will simply lead to Big Papi coming into spring training with a big gut, and nothing to play for.
5. Ben claims there’s little chance of the Sox getting in on the Yu Darvish sweepstakes. I’m glad about this, but I have this nagging gut feeling that if the Sox pass on Darvish, he’ll end up pitching like Pedro Martinez.