The Red Sox Are On The Verge Of Signing Pablo Sandoval & Hanley Ramirez, & The Wheeling & Dealing Is Just Getting Started
CBSSports.com had earlier reported the agreement, which comes on the heels of Boston’s reported deal with free-agent infielder Hanley Ramirez. Fox Sports is reporting that the Red Sox and Ramirez are finalizing a five-year, $90 million contract.
As the Giants have discussed Plan B moves in case they lost out on Sandoval, they’ve talked about the possibility of pursuing left-hander Jon Lester, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Red Sox also remain engaged in talks with Lester about a possible reunion.
If I may quote FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley in ‘The Town’, “this is the not fucking around crew.” The Red Sox front office is NOT playing around this offseason. It’s not even December yet, and they’re already very close to signing two big bats, which in turn will lead to the addition of some pitching depth. Not only does adding Sandoval add a big ol’ bat, but he also plays a great third base, and hopefully his presence in Boston signifies the end of the Will Middlebrooks era. IF the Sox get both Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, then it seems like their next move would be to trade for a pitcher. With Ramirez, and assuming Xander stays at short, the Red Sox would have Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and even Jackie Bradley Jr. as potential opening day outfielders on their roster. While you can never have too much talent, the Red Sox don’t really need 8 outfielders. Betts and Castillo are clearly the future in Boston, and out of the remaining 6 outfielders, they can get the most out of trading Cespedes, who they probably won’t resign next year anyway. They’re still in the hunt for Lester, and if I’m Jon Lester, the addition of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval only wants to make me pitch for Boston that much more. If the Sox can somehow get Lester and trade a still in his prime Cespedes for a front of the line rotation guy, they are going to be a scary team next year. Assuming Ortiz doesn’t play until he’s 50, we also now have a few guys who can take over for Big Papi at DH when he finally decides to hang it up. If the Red Sox front office were trying to generate some buzz heading into spring training, they’re doing a hell of a job.
Remembering better times
To say the 2014 Boston Red Sox were a disappointment would be an understatement. They finished with a record of 71-91, 25 games back of the first place Baltimore Orioles. For those of you not familiar with baseball, that’s very bad. The season was pretty much over in late July, as the Sox traded away their number 1 and 2 starters, along with a slew of other players to start building towards next year. The final three months of the season turned into a glorified spring training session, with countless farm players getting their chance to prove why they deserved to be looked at as a permanent roster option for John Farrell in 2015. Looking at their lineup from yesterdays season finale, it’s easy to see how far the 2013 World Series champions had fallen. Cecchini, Brentz, Weeks; not exactly household names, yet all three of them started for the Sox against their fellow hopeless rivals, the Yankees.
Now that the season is over, most of New England will turn their attention to football, hockey and basketball in hopes of experiencing something other than torture and disappointment. Just as the winter of 2012 was a key time for the Red Sox organization, so will the winter of 2014. The Red Sox have had a loaded farm system for a number of years, and with two of the last three years being wash outs, the young stars of the future have finally started to emerge, with mixed results.
The Good: Brock Holt, Mookie Betts, Anthony Ranaudo, Tommy Layne, Christian Vasquez, Rusney Castillo. These six were far and away the best of the Sox rookies to come up in 2014, even though Castillo had a limited number of at bats. Going into 2015, the Sox greatest strength may be it’s outfield depth, as Victorino, Castillo, Cespedes, Betts, Nava, Holt, and Bradley will be competing for the three outfield spots. My bet is for Cespedes, Castillo and Victorino to start the season in the outfield, with Betts and Nava serving as the backups if/when Victorino gets hurt again or Castillo struggles. Holt should move into the starting third base spot and the Sox should cut their losses with perennial strikeout king Will Middlebrooks. As far as the rest of the studs from 2014, Vasquez will be Boston’s starting catcher in 2015, and Anthony Ranaudo and Tommy Layne showed me enough to warrant a spot in the starting rotation/bullpen for next year.
The Bad: Xander Boegarts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brandon Workman. Boegarts and Bradley Jr. were especially disappointing this year, considering how much hype each had at AAA, and with Boegarts success last fall. JBJ is a gold glove outfielder with a cannon for an arm, but he had almost as many strikeouts (121) as games played (127). Add in the fact that he hit .198 over those 127 games played, and he’s probably going to be one of the odd men out next year. Boegarts may still be the chosen one, and he is only 21 years old, but he hit only .240 this season with an on base percentage of .297. Those numbers just won’t work for a Sox team that desperately needs a consistent every day shortstop. I expect him to be the starting shortstop in 2015, but if he struggles again early on, don’t be surprised if the Sox start exploring other options. Workman also seemed to regress, as he ended the year with a record of 1-10 and 5.17 ERA. Depending on what the Sox do in the off season, Workman might have pitched his way out of a spot in the starting rotation. Rubby De La Rosa, on the other hand, started the same amount of games as Workman (19) but threw 14 more innings and had an ERA .74 lower than Workman. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on De La Rosa getting a bigger shot in 2015.
Will the Sox bounce back like they did in 2013 and contend (or win) another World Series title, or will they become a mainstay in the land of mediocrity? Only time will tell, and this off season is just as important as the one going into that 2013 season. The front office says they are ready to spend money, but that money must be spent wisely. The recipe for success over the last decade has been to mix farm system youth with smart, team friendly acquisitions. The youth is there, and hopefully whoever Ben Cherington brings in will bring a winning team back to Boston.
Castillo, 27, will join the team this season, the source added.
He will be added to an outfield that already includes another Cuban defector, Yoenis Cespedes.
This is one of those cases where you just have to trust that the scouts are good at their job. Does he look good in this showcase? Yes, but I’m sure every other player vying to get into the MLB looks great as well. It is exciting that he gets to the join the Red Sox this year though, so at least we can see what he brings to the table and he can get used to playing here. I also have to assume this may be the end of the Jackie Bradley Jr. era in Boston. Now you have Castillo, Betts and JBJ in center, and JBJ is clearly at the bottom of that list. I guess that’s what happens when you go months in between hits. Let’s see what Castillo can do. It certainly can’t get worse.
Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino is seeking a second opinion on his back injury after a troublesome MRI. The results of the MRI or the ensuing prognosis weren’t made public, but MLB.com’s Red Sox beat writer, Ian Browne, is reporting that season-ending surgery is a possibility.
Victorino isn’t offering up any denials, either, via MLB.com:
“I don’t want to talk about what we discussed. I think that, as I said, it wasn’t the news that we wanted. Some of the things that were shown were a little bit more than what we had hoped for, at least I had hoped for. But obviously being out there and not being able to go and having those things hamper me, I knew something was wrong. I don’t mind playing through pain, I don’t mind playing through an injury. But the continuation of it happening was the thing that was worrisome to me. the other night when I felt it, it was something that kind of woke me up a little bit. It was kind of sharp and sudden when it happened and we obviously found out why, with what the MRI revealed. To go get another opinion from Dr. Watkins and see what he has is important to me to get that view of things and we kind of have an idea of what’s going to happen. as I said, I hope it’s not going to be as serious. That’s what I’m hoping.”
Hamstring and back woes have hampered Victorino throughout the season, holding him to just 133 plate appearances in 30 games. He’s hitting .268/.303/.382 (91 OPS+) with six doubles, two homers, 12 RBI and two steals after an excellent 2013 campaign that garnered him a few MVP votes.
Victorino, 33, is signed for $13 million for the 2015 season before again hitting free agency.
Good thing the Sox traded for those two corner outfielders, eh? I love Victorino when he’s healthy, which out of a good 162 game season is probably 75-80 games. You signed him for three years. Year 1, he helps you win a world series. Year 2, which has been a lost year, he’s played 30 games and is going in for back surgery. Year 3, who knows. Maybe he comes back healthy and plays most of the season, maybe he gets hurts again and falls into a medically induced coma. Fans of any sports team coming off a championship fall in love with those players, and the 2013 Red Sox were no different. How could you not fall in love with these guys? They made the game of baseball fun again, something Sox fans and the people of Boston needed badly after the 2012 season and then the Boston marathon bombings. I had no problem bringing back that whole team and trying to relive some of the magic. But now it’s August 5th, and we’re 14 games back and not going anywhere this season. Some people hated dealing Lester and Lackey, but what else were the Sox supposed to do? Sometimes you have to trade good players to get good players, and that’s exactly what they did. Any team who would given anything more than a sack of baseballs for Clay Buchholz would have been high on PCP, so next in line were your two best pitchers. Is it fun seeing the best Red Sox pitcher since Pedro get traded mid season? No, but I have a feeling the Sox knew Victorino was hurting bad and they needed to make moves to make sure they could field some legitimate outfielders. Worst case scenario for next year: The Sox trot out Bradley, Victorino, Craig and Cespedes, add a veteran arm or two and hope one out of the Workman/De La Rosa/Webster/Ranaudo bunch becomes a legitimate number two or three starter. Best case scenario: all that plus Jon Lester comes back home. It’s an interesting time in Beantown. Let’s hope the youth movement works out.
The Athletics also will receive outfielder Jonny Gomes while the Red Sox will get Oakland’s competitive balance draft pick, according to the source.
The deal marks the end of Lester’s storied stint with the Red Sox, who won two World Series with the left-hander at the top of their rotation.
The 30-year-old Lester, Boston’s lone All-Star this season, is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA this season.
Lester, who is scheduled to become a free agent after this season, had publicly stated his desire to remain with the Red Sox. But contract negotiations stalled this past offseason, when Lester reportedly turned down Boston’s four-year, $70 million offer.
But the Athletics paid a hefty price for Lester in Cespedes, the two-time reigning Home Run Derby champion who has 17 homers and 56 RBIs this season.
I don’t know about anyone else, but this is kind of a relief. I would have liked them to keep Lester for the rest of this year and resign him, but he’s wasting the rest of this year here, and eventually the offers from contending teams were going to be too good to pass up. So you lose Lester for the rest of this year, and you hope you can convince him to resign in the offseason. Anyone who says the Red Sox are completely out of the race to resign him are high, especially with everything Lester has gone through in Boston. He loves Farrell. He loves Pedroia. He loves Ortiz. He might get more money elsewhere, but the Sox will be at the top of the list. On the flip side, we fill a huge void in our lineup with a power hitting, uber fielding outfielder in Yoenis Cespedes. You wanted the Sox to get someone proven in return for Lester, and that’s exactly what they did. It hurts losing Gomes, who at this point is more a clubhouse guy than a good player, and Lester was our ace, but that’s the business of baseball. I’ll never forget the no hitter. I’ll never forget him dominating the postseason last year. He was a warrior, and I hope he’s back in Boston soon. Also, the A’s rotation is kind of unfair now. They could trot me out in LF and win a few playoff series.
In the meantime, this is going to be nice to get used to:
This afternoon The Average Nobodies are shipping up to Boston to watch game six of The World Series from a bar outside of Fenway! We will keep you updated by way of vines (@averagenobodies), tweets (@averagenobodies), and videos (youtube.com/theaveragenobodies)! The Nobodies and Boston are in for one hell of a night!
Polo on Saturday. Fenway last night. The life of kings. Boston is hands down my favorite city in the world. While I can’t call myself a Celtics, Bruins or Pats fan, I am a dirt dog, die hard Red Sox fan. I still count being at Fenway for Trot Nixon’s walk off home run in the 2003 ALDS as one of the best moments of my life. Being a Sox fan definitely hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. While I got to experience two world series wins so far in my lifetime, the previous 10 years (and the 76 before that) were pretty much the worst stretch a professional fan base has gone through (I know the Cubs still haven’t won a world series, but they just suck. The Red Sox had really good teams that drove knives through your hearts in October). Now that the 2013 Red Sox seem to be back to their winning ways, me and slippery Mike decided to make a trip to Fenway. If you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself to visit “The Cathedral of Boston”. On a Red Sox game day, the energy around the ballpark is unmatched. Stop by Copperfield’s, Boston Beer Works, Cask N’ Flagon or any number of bars for a pregame beer or six. Your next stop should be to scan your ticket and embrace Yawkey Way with the best sausage and pepper sandwich you’ll ever eat. With a satisfied stomach and an unlimited amount of beer at your disposal, the only thing left to do is take in the sights and sounds of the ballpark and watch the Red Sox kick some ass. Trust me on this one: if you go to Fenway, you’ll be itching to go back again and again. If, like last night, the Red Sox happen to lose, make sure you get a good consolation prize:
P.S. I’m just glad this trip went better than the last time I traveled to Fenway..