All's quiet on the Western front

For all the build up heading into Las Vegas, the 2008 Winter Meetings has started off with more of a whimper than a bang.

There seems to be more posturing than action at every turn, and maybe that's to be expected in a market that shows more signs of mirroring the overall economic climate than the continued bonanza that free agents were hoping for.

Take for example Rafael Furcal and Francisco Rodriguez, who both turned their backs on lucrative contract offers because they expected more to be out there this winter.
For all the build up heading into Las Vegas, the 2008 Winter Meetings has started off with more of a whimper than a bang.  
There seems to be more posturing than action at every turn, and maybe that’s to be expected in a market that shows more signs of mirroring the overall economic climate than the continued bonanza that free agents were hoping for.
Take for example Rafael Furcal and Francisco Rodriguez, who both turned their backs on lucrative contract offers because they expected more to be out there this winter.  
Furcal, the premier shortstop on the free agent market, turned down four years, $35-$40 million from the Oakland A’s only to find himself without overt suitors remaining.  Sure the Giants may be interested and there could be a chance that a team like the Red Sox sweep in and offer him a short term higher annual value deal, but turning down $8 – $10 million per year isn’t the slam dunk Furcal may have expected.  I don’t think the four year, $52 million dollars he is hoping for is out there.
The same can be said for Francisco Rodriguez, who after breaking the single season saves record thought for sure that he could top a three year, $34 -$36 million dollar offer from the Angels.  When he filed for free agency, K-Rod had dreams of $15 million per over four or five years.  As it turns out, the Mets, his strongest suitor, had to be talked into offering a third year with an annual value of $12 million – $13 million dollars.
So what does a soft market mean for the Red Sox?  I think it plays into their hands.  Coming into the winter meetings, the only two holes that absolutely had to be filled for this team to compete next season were a back up outfielder and to address their catching situation at both the starter and potentially back up positions.  Sure, other fine tuning would always serve to better the club, but a contending team could be fielded with just those minimal changes.
The move that most impacted the Red Sox so far this winter, was the trade of Gerald Laird to the Detroit Tigers for two minor league pitchers.  Not only was Laird a fallback option for the Red Sox should they not land a “catcher of the future”, but the Tigers were one of the few potential fits for Jason Varitek in the market for a starting catcher.
With the market clearly softer than expected, Scott Boras’ desire to land his client a “Jorge Posada-like” four year, $52 million dollar contract has to be viewed as unattainable, even for one of the best in the business at creating demand for his clients.
You can count me as surprised as many others that Jason Varitek didn’t take the arbitration offer from the Red Sox.  Right now, one year, $11 million and the ability to hit the market again next year (he can’t have a worse offensive season in 2009 can he?) with better momentum looks alot better than the uncertainty that surrounds his future.
But the Red Sox are happy to sit and wait on things to unfold.  They will be aggressive to consider other options (i.e. Brian Schneider) behind the plate as short term solutions and see how this plays out.
Beyond that, the Red Sox will sit and wait to see where value may be found.  Could it be with a starter like Brad Penny or Andy Pettitte? Or the aforementioned Rafael Furcal?  Or even the big fish, C.C. Sabathia or Mark Teixeira?
One thing is for sure however…don’t hold your breath constantly refreshing MLB Trade Rumors for news

“We’re not really optimistic about our chances of getting anything done while we’re here,” Epstein said. “We’re not really close to anything. We’re talking to some teams, we’re talking to some agents. But I wouldn’t expect anything to come out of these meetings, to be honest.”

Looks like we’ll just have to wait it out.

Categories: Brian Schneider Francisco Rodriguez Gerald Laird Jason Varitek Rafael Furcal

12 Responses to “All's quiet on the Western front” Subscribe

  1. Sandor Clegane December 9, 2008 at 7:47 AM #

    The calm before the storm. Before the three-headed dragon comes with a fury that could burn all of Westeros…

  2. Sean O December 9, 2008 at 9:07 AM #

    What he said.

  3. Evan December 9, 2008 at 10:23 AM #

    Things may be quiet now, but Theo has things up his sleeve. There are still rumblings we are in for A.J. Burnett or could bring in a reliever. I heard mention Theo was talking to Kerry Wood about coming to Boston to set up, plus we have to address the whole catching situation and who knows how much water this Teixeira stuff holds.
    We'll be getting a few things to talk about in December, I'm sure.

  4. M.A.G December 9, 2008 at 1:12 PM #

    The Furcal situation is interesting. The markett has not developed for him, and it seems he could be acquired without too much difficulty, and at a relatively low cost. That opens the possibility of using Lowrie as a trading chip for a catcher like Montero or Shoppach.
    I don't like Burnett. He is not young, is never healthy, and is going to be very expensive. I preffer to pay less and go after Sheets, or, even better, throw some millions more and go after the big fish: Sabathia.
    By the way, Joel Sherman says the Yankees are "intensifying talks with Burnett and Lowe". Apparently they are losing hope in signing CC.

  5. Nick December 9, 2008 at 1:28 PM #

    Anyone else more than a little leary of the 'Red Sox are leading the Teixeira sweepstakes' media vibe that seems to be permeating Vegas? The Yankees have been far too stealth with regard to the best offensive player available, Mark Teixeira. We'd better hope Teixeira signs before Sabathia because if CC goes west then the Yanks will come hard for Teixeira. The Yanks struggled as much with a lack of timely offense last season as they did with their faultering pitching staff. Don't discount the Yankees with Mark Teixeira. The quiet coming from New York regarding Tex is DISquieting.

  6. Sam K December 9, 2008 at 2:42 PM #

    Are the Yankees going after one FA pitcher or two?

  7. Bob December 9, 2008 at 3:29 PM #

    The Yankees are probably going after two pitchers. I was a little apprehensive about Tex at first but now I'm completely on board if Lars can be moved to Left field and considering that Ortiz's contract expires in 2 years when Lars could step in as DH. I say go get him. I also think it might be worth it to kick the tires on Furcal if Lowrie can net us someone like Montero. I've been reading stories saying the D'backs are trying to work out an extension for Chris Snyder so Monetero will be available. Kerry Wood would be a great set-up option for the Sox, and would basically make Masterson either the 5th starter or an excellent trading chip. Can you imagine being another team and having to face Wood and Paps back-to-back? They would probably be the best bullpen tandem in the league stuff-wise at least.

  8. gerry December 9, 2008 at 4:02 PM #

    The beauty of these meetings is that Theo really can hold steady. However, we will probably get neck strain peering over his shoulder hoping he does something more.
    The team, as it exists, as long as it gets healthy, is post-season bound already. Any improvement like Ben Sheets, Kelly Shoppach or even Teix just gild the lilly. Furcal is intriguing, but will he be as good as Lowrie can be in two years? $12M??? Maybe if we don't get Teix or Shoppach or Baldelli we will need his bat. Shop well, Theo.

  9. Nick December 9, 2008 at 4:31 PM #

    Gerry, I think there are legit questions at catcher, SS and centerfield on this Sox team along with questions about the back end of the rotation and lack of bats off the bench. I'm not counting on Pedey and Youk having MVP years twice in a row, Dice winning 18 games again and I'm not counting on the Yankess having everyone (yes EVERYONE) in their starting 9 having off years two years running. The Rays are adding Price to their already deep rotation and will add a quality stick or two to their line-up.
    The notion that this Sox team, as it currently exists, being playoff bound if healthy is quite presumptive on your part. The Yanks had more injuries than the Sox last year, had an underperforming starting 9 yet finished a mere 6 games behind the Sox. The same Sox team that had 2 players having MVP years. Theo has work to do. If he sits on his hands like he did last off season this team won't make the playoffs. I wonder how differently we'd be viewing this Sox team had they not staged their miracle comeback in game 5 against the Rays. Prior to that game they were getting blown out and embarrassed on their home field during that series.

  10. Nick December 9, 2008 at 4:43 PM #

    Btw per Peter Epstein or is it Theo Gammons says the Sox did indeed offer a contract to Mr. CC Sabathia.
    Interesting!
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID

  11. JaredK December 10, 2008 at 3:23 AM #

    Yanks are getting CC according to the NY Post
    http://www.nypost.com/seven/12102008/sports/yanke

  12. gerry December 10, 2008 at 5:45 PM #

    Phew, Nick. You paint the Yankees as sleeping giants and the Sox as history. Not so. Yankees had some bad luck last year beyond rookies Hughes, Kennedy, Joba, but not like the Sox.
    Are you forgetting about great seasons by Moose, A-Rod, etc.?
    Do you really think Pedroia, Youk, Jason Bay, Daisuke, Lester, Papelbon, Masterson have hit their upsides? This team is now officially as hungry as it is talented, comfortable and aggressive, with one of the best defensive infields and outfields in MLB. They can taste the WS already, and have the goods to get there.
    Sox lineup injuries and illnesses took away our biggest bats for most of the season and postseason: Manny, Papi, Mike, JD, and later in the season Lowrie who had been so hot. They will return healthy next year, and Theo is looking to add another bat.
    Yet, THE SOX still won 95 games and were among the LEAGUE LEADERS in virtually all offensive and defensive categories, despite the injuries and despite Manny.
    Injuries effected pitching even more forcing Schilling, Beckett, Colon, Wake, Daisuke, Buchholz, Oki, Aardsma to the bench, even into our pitching reserves with Snyder, Hansack, Gronk and others. They will return healthy next year, and Theo is looking to add yet another arm (after already adding RRam, Juni, Littleton)
    In the case of Manny, Papi, Mike, JD, Schilling, Beckett, Colon, Aardsma, these injuries effected the entire season, one way or another; taking away a couple of combined full seasons from starters, and causing other stars to play wounded even longer.
    You also consider SS and CF legit questions, while most scouts and even the conservative Rich James predicts great seasons from each of these rookies. Billy Beane called Jacoby the best defensive CF in all of baseball this summer, and he finished with a .280, 60SB, 97R and Zero E in 3 positions, and was 3rd in ROY voting. Give me a break. Just out of AA, Jed also had zero errors, at SS, and hit up a storm, peppered the green monster and was a huge clutch hitter, even after his wrist fracture and sprain shut him down. GG for Ells and Jed?
    If Theo successfully lands another big bat (Teixeira?), a top starter (Sheets or Penny?), and a defensive catcher with a good bat (Shoppach, Montero, Teagarden?) then can you see any reason why the 2009 Red Sox won't win 100 games?
    I can't.