Winter Meetings with the Boston Red Sox
ProBaseball-fans.com Boston Red Sox Correspondent Elizabeth Dreeson brings us her latest update on Red Sox Nation.
The Winter Meetings took place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas this past week, which means that the Hot Stove just turned white-hot. A few major acquisitions have gone down, but the Red Sox still have some “unfinished business”. So here’s what has gone down with some of the other teams, and how it affects the Red Sox. The Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez “K-Rod” to a three-year $3.3 million dollar deal. His career 11.70 strikeouts per nine innings ratio is the third best in Major League History. He led the Major Leagues in saves this past season with 62 saves. What does this mean for the Red Sox? Since he’s not on the Angels anymore, the Red Sox may not see him at all in the upcoming year, which is somewhat of a relief.
The Yankees made two huge acquisitions in the past week: CC Sabathia, and AJ Burnett. Sabathia was signed to a seven year, $161 million dollar contract. When the deal was initially proposed in the middle of November, the offer was six years, $140 million. The reason that Brian Cashman increased the offer was to intimidate other teams even more from even making an offer, and to prove that the Yankees would indeed be the highest bidders. The Brewers offered Sabathia a smaller contract worth $100 million, and Sabathia was waiting on an offer from a California team, which is probably why it took him so long to sign with the Yankees. This acquisition is huge for the Yankees, and it ensures a huge fight for first place in the always-competitive American League East. In the past few years, this competition used to be restricted to just the Red Sox and Yankees when it came down to it, but now that the Rays have turned it around, these three teams will be neck in neck for the division throughout the entire season. This is not to say that the Yankees did not have potential last year, the problem was, that they were plagued with injury after injury. Even though the Yankees acquired Sabathia, it’s not like the Sox haven’t faced him before. If you recall the 2007 American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians, the two best pitchers in baseball, at that time (Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia), went face to face not once, but twice. Both of those times, the Red Sox blew CC out of the water, and Josh Beckett went on to be the series MVP. Personally, and I think most of you will agree, Josh Beckett was robbed of the CY Young award in 2007. Sure he was the runner up, but he beat the CY Young winner twice. Now that Sabathia is on the Yankees, and the Red Sox and Yankees play numerous series throughout the season, Beckett and Sabathia matchups are almost inevitable, and they are a classic matchup. Now that the Yankees have also acquired AJ Burnett, they have the two of the most eligible free agent pitchers, on their staff. The scary thing is, that the Yankees are in the top two contenders for Derek Lowe (along with the Phillies) and are interested in the Brewers’ Ben Sheets.
For the Red Sox, no real transactions went down during the Winter Meetings. However, the Red Sox emerged in the final-four contenders for MarkTeixeria, and it looks like the Sox are the “favorite”. As we know, acquiring Teixeria would move our infield around a lot: Youkilis would move to third, and Teixeria would play first. Thus, it is likely that Lowell would be traded if Tex were in fact acquired. However, it is most likely that the trade would occur after Spring Training, and probably after a month of regular season play, so other teams would be able to witness how Lowell is after a shaky season, and an operation. As far as rehab goes, Lowell’s rehabilitation is reportedly going pretty well. Plus, the Red Sox extended Mike’s contract just last year, so it’d be odd if they wanted to trade him so soon. In my opinion, the Red Sox really don’t need a guy like Teixeria, it would be a nice acquisition, granted, the Sox did get to Game 7 of the ALCS. It doesn’t seem like they need to change that much, seeing that the majority of Red Sox sufferings came from constant injuries and health issues. Acquiring Teixeria would be like a mercantilist policy: there is only so much wealth in the world (wealth in this case being free agents) and the idea is to obtain all the wealth so that others can’t have it.
In the Rule 5 draft, the Red Sox selected Angels’ right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who will be used as a reliever if he makes the Major League roster. Jason Varitek declined arbitration, as predicted. This means that if he were to sign with another team, the Red Sox would receive two compensation draft picks. Varitek probably declined arbitration because he is seeking a multi-year deal. Varitek’s agent, Scot Boras, has disclosed that the Red Sox have made him an offer. However, the Red Sox team policy stipulates that terms, conversations, and contracts with free agents remain virtually undisclosed until it is almost official. The Boston Globe reports the contract has two years on it, which would be more appealing to Varitek. Gerald Laird, a catcher on the Rangers that Theo was looking into, was dealt to the Tigers, which complicated the whole catching situation a little bit. The Rangers would be very hesitant to give up Jarrod Saltalamacchia unless the Red Sox were willing to reciprocate with some big pitching prospects like Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, or Justin Masterson. Ideally, the Red Sox are looking for a catcher (most likely a prospect) to be mentored by Varitek, or if the Sox can’t come to terms with their starting catcher since 1999, a potential successor. I think another possibility, although unannounced, could be veteran Ivan Rodriguez. The Red Sox non-tendered Kevin Cash before Friday’s deadline, which means that Cash is now a free agent. Cash could potentially return to the Red Sox, but probably to a minor league contract seeing that the Sox are looking for a catcher with more offensive potential to serve as a complement to Varitek. The Red Sox “tendered” contracts to the other 28 unsigned players on their Major League roster. Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, and Javier Lopez are eligible for salary arbitration.
The Hot Stove is officially hotter than ever, and it looks like a lot more rumors, acquisitions, and trades will be happening within the next week.
By Elizabeth Dreeson
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