1. Back Up the Truck for Zack Greinke: Listen, I’m not going to sit here and sugar coat the state of the Boston Red Sox starting pitching. Assuming Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey are healthy, it’s not exactly the most daunting pitching staff in the league. This staff needs an ace. This isn’t a secret. But DO NOT go out and be the team that throws north of $100 million at Greinke. The Sox were lucky enough to get bailed out by the Los Angeles Dodgers. And while the Dodgers would likely bail Boston out again for Greinke (and Greinke only) he is simply not worth the risk. He’s a National League pitcher plain and simple. Don’t believe me? There are three American League teams in which Greinke has a winning record against: Detroit, Oakland, and Seattle. There are only two other teams that Greinke is even .500 against: Cleveland and Baltimore. Speaking of Baltimore, Greinke would be seeing plenty of them if the Sox were foolish enough to bring him in since they play in the AL East. In seven starts against the Orioles, Greinke is 2-2 with a 5.72 ERA and a .270 BAA. Considering how troublesome the O’s have been for the Sox in recent history, it does not seem like Greinke would remedy that issue. How about Tampa Bay? 11 games started for an exhilerating 2-6 record. A decent 3.70 ERA with a .268 BAA. While Tampa Bay missed the playoffs last season, they are still a threat with their starting pitching. Greinke giving up north of three runs against anyone on Tampa’s staff? Yeah, that’s likely a loss. What about his nine starts against those Toronto Blue Jays? 3-4 you say? 4.45 ERA? .247 BAA? And now Toronto is actually better than they have been in previous seasons? Yeeesh. Alright, well if he’s struggled so mightily against these three squads he MUST HAVE had marginal success against the Yankees, right? Eight starts, 2-4, 6.45 ERA, with a .283 BAA. Like I said, let someone else make this mistake. Greinke would probably be great during interleague play, but how much is that worth? Not what he will get this winter. Stay away, Cherington.
2. Fail to Sign Mike Napoli; Sign Adam LaRoche: I’m not even 100% sold that Mike Napoli is the end all be all for this offseason. I think he would be a nice piece for this club but if Boston cannot sign him, there’s no reason to just throw a long term deal at the perceived next best guy. The Sox had Adam LaRoche for six games in 2009. Not nearly large enough of a sample size to judge whether or not he could handle the atmosphere which is Boston, but at the same time there’s a reason Theo Epstein said, “Thanks but no thanks,” in ’09. Adam LaRoche is a middling first baseman. If I told you a year ago today that Adrian Gonzalez would be gone and Adam LaRoche would be replacing him, you would laugh in my face and tell me how horrible LaRoche is in comparison. Well, who’s laughing now? Because this is sadly a reality in Boston right now. As in, Adam LaRoche could actually be signing a long term deal to play first base for the Boston Red Sox. There would be a press conference, photo ops, media members, multiple articles and columns written, debates on ESPN, the whole shebang. How far have the Red Sox fallen where Adam LaRoche could potentially be their biggest offseason move? No offense to LaRoche, but that’s rather embarassing for a team who turned him around after six games three years ago. While LaRoche had a fine season in 2012 – a contract year – his best season came all the way back in 2006. There’s no reason to bring in J.D. Drew 2.0 at first base. Absolutely none. To think he can continue to hit 30 homers while driving in 100 RBI is foolish and that’s putting it nicely. He’s 33. Spend money elsewhere. Or… Don’t spend it at all! What a radical idea! Stop paying mediocre players All Star contracts! Wow. Makes so much sense it almost makes no sense.
3. Anibal Sanchez… Pass: I’ve long appreciated Anibal Sanchez as an above average number three in a decent rotation. In a loaded rotation, he was a quality number four. Since 2007, Sanchez has thrown the most complete games while allowing one hit or fewer in all of baseball. A cute little stat, no? Sanchez benefits from hitting the open market atop an incredibly weak free agent class. Yes, I understand he came up in the Sox minor league system. I get that the Red Sox need starting pitching. I comprehend that the Boston Red Sox have a surplus of funds to spend on a free agent pitcher and Anibal Sanchez happens to be a free agent pitcher. All of that computes in my head perfectly fine. As I said during my Greinke rant, there is a need for an ACE. Not another number three. An ACE. Someone who doesn’t need any offensive production behind him to go out and win a game. Sanchez has a career 3.75 ERA while making all but 12 of his starts in the NL East. Even those 12 games he pitched for the Tigers, his ERA sat at 3.74. Sanchez will turn 29 in February. He does not deserve the type of money he is demanding right now. If the Sox pay him like a number two, they will be disappointed when he performs like a number four more often than not. Sanchez is not the solution to any of Boston’s problems. There’s really nothing else to talk about. Signing Sanchez would make less than zero sense for this club. By the way, everything I said about Sanchez applies to Edwin Jackson. Well, not the statistics and all that. Just the whole “don’t sign him” thing. Double that for Ryan Dempster.
4. Nick Swisher. Yeah… Don’t: Listen, out of all the players who have come and gone for the New York Yankees since I’ve been alive I probably have the least amount of venom for Nick Swisher. He seemed to enjoy playing in the limelight of New York, even when things weren’t going his way. But he’s 32. He’s a defensive liability regardless of where he’s playing. He barely hits his weight in terms of average. Would anyone really prefer to pay him $12 million to play miserable defense and hit .250 than bring up a minor leaguer to put up the same exact stats at a fraction of the cost? Anyone? Why? Because you want the MLB player with the most Twitter followers in the league? Sick… He’ll get voted to every All Star Game until he retires because of that. Meaning some random sub-section of his contract will kick in and his $12 million contract becomes like $15 million or some nonsense like that. Incentives man. They will always find a way to bite someone, whether it be the team or the player. Besides that, there’s just no use for a guy like Swisher at this point in his career. Six years ago? Sure, sign him up. Sadly, that’s not really an option. Let him go DH for Tampa Bay or something. I don’t know. I don’t really care. As long as he doesn’t end up here. It’s just a waste of money. Granted, if any team knows how to waste money, it’s the Red Sox. So this would be right up their alley. If it is their “solution” we will know exactly what’s going on in that front office. We will know nothing has changed. That they’re still looking for that four leaf clover Theo took to Chicago. Don’t even contemplate this one. Just move on. Leaving us with…
5. Josh Hamilton: Think to yourself quietly… who was the last big signing the Boston Red Sox made which turned out to be successful? I’m not talking about the Josh Becketts or Adrian Gonzalezes of the world who came in via trade. I’m not talking about the Adrian Beltres or David Ortizes who were picked up out of the bargain bin. I mean high profile, big money free agent who was successful in Boston? Much to my disappointment, it was not Carl Crawford. John Lackey? Diasuke Matsuzaka? J.D. Drew? Julio Lugo? Edgar Renteria? Nope. You would have to go all the way back to Manny Ramirez. You can argue for hours whether or not the end of his career in Boston was a “success” but he did help the Sox win two World Series Titles while he was here. He was far from a bad signing. I guess you could make a case for Johnny Damon, but at $8 million a year or whatever he was making, did that signing carry the same magnitude as Ramirez? Not at all.
That leaves us with Hamilton. By now I assume we all know about Hamilton’s troubled past. We all know about his MVP award. We all know about his ability to help lead a team to the World Series in consecutive seasons. He’s one of the best offensive players in the league. If he did not have such a troublesome past, who knows what kind of ridiculous contract he would have by now. I say by now, because he would have hit the open market a few seasons ago, since he would have been in the majors sooner, and would have been traded away by Tampa for a boatload of prospects before that. That would have been Josh Hamilton’s narrative if it weren’t for his past. But, here we are in the present. Josh Hamilton is available on the open market. The Boston Red Sox have openings in left and right field as well as plenty of funds to acquire the talented slugger. But why? What’s the end game? If the Sox sign Hamilton, do they instantly become a World Series contender? No. Even if Hamilton continues on as an MVP caliber player for three years before he takes over as a primary DH, would anyone be happy with a DH making greater than $20 million a season? Hell, people are pissed that Ortiz was asking for $15 million. And he’s actually won here. Fact of the matter is the Sox need young, fresh faces in that locker room. Is it still a “toxic” situation? I don’t believe so. Is everything fine and dandy? Nope. There is no reason to clean house just to sully it again. Especially for Hamilton’s price tag. Too much risk with little reward. Let him stay in Texas or sign with the Orioles like I predicted. The Sox need to get back to their roots. Acquiring talent via trades while developing and restocking the farm system. Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, Jacoby Ellsbury… These are all home grown players. All starters. All quality major league ball players. It’s time to get back to that mentality.