Monday, October 10, 2005

Who will be back?

Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Tony Graffanino, Kevin Millar, Mike Timlin, John Olerud and Matt Mantei are all up for new contracts this off season, so let's take a look at who will be back, who should be back and who will be overpaid additions to the Mets... I mean off to free agency.

When you look at the starting rotation, the club has Schilling, Clement, Wells, Wakefield, Arroyo, and Papelbon. Unfortunately, Arroyo will be 29, Clement 31, Schilling 39, Wakefield 39, and Wells 42. Theo is already talking about Jon Lester (down in AA) making an impact next year. Don't forget about Wade Miller who, even if the Sox do make a deal with him (which I don't), isn't expected to be ready for spring training after surgery this year. Lenny DiNardo and Abe Alvarez are also expected to compete for starting spots (although DiNardo with his September performance has a much better chance). Wells is set for off season surgery and may either retire or request a trade back to the West Coast.

The Sox need to make a decision about Timlin and Foulke. Expect a lot of trade rumors to be floated with Foulke in mind, but with this year's performance, off season surgery, and a large contract, don't expect him to be traded. Timlin's age may become a factor in any negotiations. I expect his future here depends a great deal on who else the Sox look at in the off season. Also, expect Craig Hansen, 21, and Manny Delcarmen, 23 to become major parts of next year's bullpen.

Hopefully, whatever hold Millar has on Francona will lapse and he will be gone. The experiment is dead. I expect the Sox to make a play for Olerud, but probably won't get it done (would you want to sign with a club that had you play back up to Millar even though you were the better player, injury and all?).

Despite Graffanino's performance, error, and forgiveness (that double in the 9th really made up for it in the fan's mind, if not the beat writers), he probably won't be back. He'll lose out to Alex Cora, who is under contract for next year. But Cora's just a place holder until Dustin Pedroia is ready.

Renteria is the shortstop for the foreseeable future, although I'm still puzzled by his long term, big money contract last year. The Red Sox seem to have Hanley Ramirez on the brain, and haven't traded him away yet. So I'm left scratching my head on this one. I would expect they hoped to trade Renteria in the near future, maybe after one more year, while getting Ramirez some more playing time when they can.

Expect Kevin Youkilis to take Mueller's place at third. At 35, and with his contract up, it looks like Bill's going to lose this one.

Manny's time with the Red Sox is at hand as well (no more will we hear Manny being Manny). After requesting a trade every year for the past three years, Manny's tenure as the league leading offensive power for the Red Sox is up. Ortiz' numbers will probably suffer as a result, but Theo is just salivating at the prospect of having Ramirez's contract money to play with. Johnny Damon's time with the Red Sox is also up. I expect the Red Sox to make a play for him (unless they are more concerned with an injury than they let on), but they will be out bid just as they were last year with Pedro. So, say good-bye to the long haired WWJD fan shots at fenway.

So, after reviewing all of the positions, it looks like the Sox are going to get younger (read: less experienced) next year, with less power (read: who's going to replace Manny?) in the field. And unless the free agent market opens up some more, their bullpen woes are going to continue. Their starting pitching is getting older and younger at the same time, which is going to lead to all sorts of trouble. Hopefully, the older starters will start passing on all that experience to the young pups and quickly. Otherwise, you can expect a quick exit from the playoffs next year, too.


David R. Mark said...

I'd let Youkilis take over for Mueller. I'd keep Graffanino around for one year, in case Pedroia needed more time -- he might need a half season more at AAA.

If I'm Boston, I deal Arroyo -- they've gotten as much as they can from him. Where? How about Cincy, in exchange for Sean Casey. Casey would be an ideal #2 hitter, and he's very solid defensively.

I'd let Millar go. Papelbon can take Arroyo's spot. Lester probably needs a half-season at AAA. The Sox could find a 5th starter from the free agent pile, I'm sure. If not, maybe sign Jarrod Washburn, or trade for Kyle Lohse?

I think you keep Damon, because he's better than what's out on the FA market. Unless the Sox can sign or trade for a younger CF -- and the only name out there might be Beltran, but they'd have to give up Manny, which I wouldn't do.

I'd also make a run at Billy Wagner, and let that be the major FA signing of the off-season.

If I had my druthers, here's my line-up:

Damon, Casey, Ortiz, Manny, Nixon, Varitek, Renteria, Youkilis, Graffanino/Pedroia

Rotation: Schilling, Wells, Wakefield, Clement, Papelbon

Bullpen: Myers, Foulke, Timlin, Delcarmen, Wagner, one more lefty and one long man (maybe Jeremi Gonzalez, but the Sox probably can do better).

Mike said...

A lot of what you've said makes sense to me, but I do have some issues, too.

Of course, this is all just my opinion.

Youkilis should take over for Mueller, but Graf's gone. Cora still has one more year and he'll be holding the spot for Pedroia.

I agree, it could be time for Arroyo to go, and trading for Casey makes sense to me. Cin needs pitching and we could use a first baseman.

They're going to need another starter, since it looks more and more like Wells will be gone next year. I'd rather have the more experienced Washburn. At least you'll know what you're getting. Is his contract up? What about Lohse? I know he won arbitration last year, but what were the terms (years)?

I would keep Damon too, I just think that he's going to be gone because the other teams are going to outbid the Sox for him. Manny will be gone (if someone else is williing to pay his contract). Like Wells, he's asking to be traded, and the Sox seem willing to deal.

I'd be very excited to see Wagner here. After pitching in Philly, he should be ready for another hot house like Boston. But what do they do with Foulke's contract? They're not going to pay him to be a setup man.

I like your lineup. I just don't think it's going to happen.