For awhile now, I have been waiting for this. And I’m glad it came. I thought, after the Joe Mauer trade, that San Diego might have delusions of financial legitimacy in baseball’s ridiculously uneven financial landscape. No offense to Peter Gammons, but this wasn’t a “win-win” situation. The Sox stole the Padres blind. The Padres made the best of a terrible/terribly unfair situation. In case you haven’t heard, Gonzalez is in Boston (pending an extension) for three Red Sox prospects: Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes.
In an article today, Gammons claims that Rizzo and Kelly will both be in Padre–that seems overly optimistic to me. Rizzo maybe–he hit 25 home runs between A and AA last year (20 of them in AA); however, he also posted an OBP of only .334 and struck out 132 times. Kelly struggled pitching in AA last season, posting an ERA above 5.00 and WHIP above 1.6, though his K-BB ratio was pretty strong (81 k’s, 35 bb’s, 95 ip). Fuentes’ is only two years out of high school, but they’ve been pretty mediocre years (last year in A ball he hit .270-.328-.377, though he did steal 42 bases). Eventually these guys might develop. Eventually. But I feel pretty confident that the Sox gave up 3 players who aren’t Youkilis, Buchholz, and Ellsbury caliber. They might all be first round picks–something Padres’ and baseball-economic-apologists will highlight–but they aren’t necessarily great talents.
In Gonzalez, the Red Sox grab one of the best players in baseball. Period. He’s not yet 30. He put up a .888 OPS in an incredible pitcher’s park. And, true to Red Sox strategy, he devours pitchers and runs up counts.
I’m hoping to here the extension announced soon. And I’m figuring it will be colossal–something like 8 years 160 million sounds right (just about what they were going to throw Mark Texeria before he went to the Yankees). I am a bit nervous, given the Phillies insanity with Howard’s contract, that the Sox won’t be able to work out a deal with Gonzalez.
So, in short, sorry Padre fans. You didn’t deserve this. But Gonzo is going to look damn good in Fenway.
Back in April, I wrote a list of Seven Red Sox Story Lines for 2010. Let’s see how they played out.
1. John Lackey‘s health
Lackey remained healthy all season, unfortunately those sub-par career numbers in Fenway Park weren’t just the result of a small sample size. Although, to be honest, his Home/Road split this year is nearly identical. You’ve got to wonder why Lackey put up the worst WHIP and K/9 of his career this year. Given that its the first year of a questionable contract, I am concerned. Let’s hope that uncharacteristically high BABIP is an aberration (especially on a team built for defense), and that he can knock a run of his 4.50 ERA next year. There is hope here, since his FIP is 3.88.
2. Can Defense Really Win?
OK, was that great defensive team ever on the field together? Ellsbury was out most of the year, as was Cameron. Fangraphs shows the Red Sox’s team defense numbers as mediocre–right in the middle of the league. Of course, the way this team hit for much of the season, they were able to win with offense. The loss of Youkilis (on top of Pedroia) is what really did this team in–they are 3 games over .500 without him.
3. Does This Team Really Have a 4th Starter?
Holy crap they do. Clay Buchholz has been the best starter on the team this year. I’m not sure who the #5 will be next year, but you have to feel good about a rotation of Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey, and any one else.
4. Can This Team Score Runs?
Here’s the questions I aksed in order:
- Which David Ortiz shows up? One who can hit .250 with 30 home runs or one who can hit .200 with 15 home runs? Or one that hits like Pat Burrell (ewww….)? Answer: The good Ortiz. Eventually. A big question for the Red Sox this off-season will be what to do with Papi. I’ll save that for another post.
- Is Scutaro a one year wonder?Answer: Yes. I wrote in another post that the Red Sox needed last year’s Scutaro–the one who walked 90 times to push his OBP to .379. They didn’t get that guy. Scutaro is back to his career averages this year, which means a .331 OBP.
- Will Cameron have more hits or strikeouts? (Hint: the last time he had more hits than k’s was 2000).Answer: 14 BB, 44 K’s, and only 48 games.
- Can Drew repeat his stellar 2009?
Answer: No. This is one of the worst seasons of Drew’s career–his OPS is below .800. Its too bad he’s slated to earn 15 million plus for one more year.
- Will Ellsbury continue to grow or has he plateau-ed?
Answer: Oh the injustice of it all.
5. Will Josh Reddick Break Through this Season?
I wrote this post after Reddick finished his second straight insane Spring Training. But that seems to be the only place that Reddick shines. Reddick struggled through a terrible season at Pawtucket and has a .630 OPS in 53 PA this season. We did have a few great call-ups this year: Darnell McDonald has a .779 OPS (that’s .011 less than Drew for about 14.5 million fewer dollars), and Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish surprised in flashes. Any of those guys could be a 4th outfielder next season.
6. Adrian Gonzalez (?)
Who would have thought the Padres would be contending for a title this year? Gonzalez should be an MVP candidate, and the Red Sox will likely have to wait and see if the Padres give him the Mauer treatment this off-season.
7. Will Josh Bard Develop Into the Next Papelbon (Literally)?
I thought this was from left field, but I was right! Bard is every bit the stud he was advertised to be, and should be the closer opening day 2011. I don’t know if Paps will be traded or not, but Bard is clearly the future at the back of the Boston pen.
I thought I might take a few minutes and review my pre-season expectations as we wind down to the post season. Below are my picks from Spring Training.
NL EAST: Phillies
I’ll admit, I really hope I end up wrong on this one. It would be a nice story if the Braves could win one more for Bobby Cox. As of last night, the Phillies have taken over first place in the NL East by 1/2 game. I’m not sure the Braves’ offense, sans Chipper Jones, has enough to retake and hold the lead against a healthy Phillies squad down the stretch.
NL CENTRAL: Cardinals
Here’s another one where I’m happy to be wrong–I like to see an underdog win (especially given baseball’s extremely uneven playing field). Votto is for real, and the Reds won the all the games they needed to win (even if they tend to struggle against the upper-echelon teams). I think there starting pitching is too thin for the playoffs, but they are a great story.
NL WEST: Giants
As of today, the Giants are two back in the loss column to the surprisingly good Padres. I do think the Giants will take them–but this in large part relies on what the Padres do with their young stud Latos. I’ll assume anyone reading this knows the Verducci Effect. Latos threw 120 combined minor league and major league innings last season. He’s already over the Verducci guideline–throwing 160.2 thus far in 2010. History would advise the Padres shut him down now. Chances are, given the economic situation in San Diego, they will pitch him into the ground over the next month. I also think he should be a frontrunner for the NL Cy Young, but I’ll save that for a future post.
NL WILDCARD: Braves
Yup. If the season ended today, then I would have called it. Again–I’d rather see them win the division and secure home field.
AL EAST: Rays
Please, Tampa, please–don’t blow it. You are pretty much my only hope.
AL CENTRAL: White Sox
I originally liked the Twins in the spring–but I drank the White Sox kool-aid and bought into the possibility of a resurgent Jake Peavy. I thought the White Sox could win 90 games–and it looks like they will. What’s unexpected is the Twins winning 95 or 95 games. I thought the central would be a stronger division (what happened to the Tigers? Oh yeah, injuries).
AL WEST: Angels
I didn’t like any team in this division–and I’m happy for the Rangers for the same reason that I’m happy for the Reds. I also wonder how this pitching staff will hold up in the playoffs against high powered offenses; thier pitching numbers get padded in an offensively challenged (read: historically inept) Al West. Any chances the Angels had broke with Morales leg.
AL WILD CARD: Red Sox
I have already cathartically released my disappointment for the Sox this season–but it wasn’t meant to be. Now the Rays will likely win the Wild Card, and the Yankees the division. The Yanks are relatively healthy this year, like last year; even if Pettitte can’t contribute in the playoffs, I think the Yankees have to be the favorites. Oh sweet baseball gods, what have I done to deserve this two years in a row?