Red Sox Offseason Blueprint v.1: Figgins, King Felix head to Boston

Seattle Mariners vs Detroit Tigers.
Today is the first in a three version series on an offseason blueprint the Red Sox should follow. What should their starting lineup and pitching staff look like entering the 2010 season? I'll take a look at one possible scenario while Mike and Tim follow up with their own in the next two days. Before I jump in, let me clarify something important: this is not necessarily a prediction of what the Sox will do, nor an endorsement of a particular path. All this is is simply food for thought. What possible scenarios could Boston pursue? Well, this particular one involves three major names being added to the team while losing Clay Buchholz.

Today is the first in a three version series on an offseason blueprint the Red Sox should follow. What should their starting lineup and pitching staff look like entering the 2010 season?

Seattle Mariners vs Detroit Tigers.

I’ll take a look at one possible scenario while Mike and Tim follow up with their own in the next two days. Before I jump in, let me clarify something important: this is not necessarily a prediction of what the Sox will do, nor an endorsement of a particular path. All this is is simply food for thought. What possible scenarios could Boston pursue? Well, this particular one involves three major names being added to the team while losing Clay Buchholz.

BRING BACK JASON VARITEK. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Boston has a $5 million team option for Varitek that is completely unlikely to pick up. After all, Varitek would be the backup catcher — and you don’t pay $5 million for a backup catcher. What Boston should do is sit down with Varitek and tell him how important he remains to the team.

Tell him he would be Josh Beckett’s personal catcher, as well as pick up additional starts here and there when the first- and third-baseman need to be spelled. That would give him around 50 starts behind the dish, a pretty healthy number. If Varitek wants to play more, then there’s not much else you can do. At this point, I would be shocked if any team viewed Varitek as a starter. He would be better off picking up his $3 million player option to return as a backup.

RESIGN JASON BAY.

I personally do not feel that Bay returns to Boston, but that’s for another article. In this scenario, Boston’s brought Jason Bay back to patrol right field. I’ve done this because essentially, Bay is the only legitimate power hitter on the team currently, and the Sox can’t lose that. If they lose Bay, they’re limited to replacing him with Matt Holliday, and I’ve elected to bring Bay back based on three key elements: (1) Bay has proven he can hit in the American League. (2) Bay has proven he can succeed in Boston. (3) Bay likely will cost less than Holliday.

PICK UP ALEX GONZALEZ’S OPTION.

In this scenario, I struggled to find a home for Jonathan Papelbon, either exploring left field, third base, first base and shortstop. I found no realistic options for the former three, and Papelbon for J.J. Hardy or Stephen Drew doesn’t really line up well. Thus, I’ve opted to junk trying to trade Papelbon and bring him back for another year while picking up Alex Gonzalez’s option and worrying about shortstop later.

It will give Boston a chance to further evaluate Jed Lowrie an additional year as well. Papelbon will stay with the Sox not only because there wasn’t a fit to be found, but because I worry about the signal that would be sent by moving Papelbon after his historic collapse in the postseason. That, and Papelbon should still be good for an elite year next year. I’m also harboring hope that said collapse will make him wake up and realize he can’t keep being a fastball guy only.

Boston may not be pleased with Papelbon’s refusal to sign a long-term contract, his monetary demands and his off-the-cuff remarks, but they’re certainly pleased with his production on the field. So, as a result of not trading Papelbon, I’ve made Boston strike hard and fast in the free agent market…

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers

SIGN CHONE FIGGINS.

Yes, this means Mike Lowell will be headed somewhere, but we’ll get to that. I’ve opted to sign Figgins because in my research over the year and in recent days, I’ve found it next to impossible to find a way for Boston to get back to it’s stature of having two sluggers in the heart of the order that strikes fear into opposing teams. The team has been built this way since 2003, but it’s time to transition to a different way of doing things. Boston may have had the second best offense in the majors according to OPS last year, but it was an offense without many teeth. It’s time to transition from molars to incisors.

This is where Figgins comes in. Figgins will not only contribute on defense (last two years: 13.8, 11.8 UZR/150) but his offense will do wonders. No, his .393 slugging percentage isn’t high, but his .395 OBP and 42 stolen bases make him very valuable. If you slot him in leadoff, you can move Ellsbury down in the order to eighth and transition the Sox to an offense more what the Twins and Angels provide. Not because of the Twins and Angels, but because of what the current personnel and options demand.

(I’ll mention here that Figgins is past 30 and will likely get a 4-5 year deal around $10 million annually. That scares me.)

SIGN RICH HARDEN.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Theo has had his eye on Harden for quite a while and I jumped all over this a couple weeks ago. Harden can bring a ton to the mound and can really deepen the Sox staff.

Ah, the whole injury bit, though. We can’t rely on him, which is why the Sox will have to…

PICK UP TIM WAKEFIELD’S OPTION.

Wakefield  has communicated he has no interest in retiring. Given he made the All-Star team in 2009, is there really any doubt Boston should bring him back?

If there’s no room in the rotation, he can slide into one of the available slots in the bullpen. Wake’s production and versatility make it a no-brainer that he returns.

TRADE FOR FELIX HERNANDEZ.

At the trading deadline, it came about that the Red Sox had been trying to acquire Felix Hernandez. Understandably, the Mariners wanted a lot for King Felix — but they weren’t opposed to trading him. Why not? Because he may price himself out of Seattle’s range.

Boston needs to really extend its starting pitching depth if the offense is going to take a step back in the power department. What it gains in OBP, speed and defense it will lose with people who can juice the ball — Mike Lowell could juice the ball. In this scenario, I have Mike Lowell, Casey Kotchman and Clay Buchholz as major league pieces headed to Seattle for Hernandez. (I’m not bothering to flush out the full deal … but we would have to give up some significant minor league pieces in this deal as well.)

For Seattle, Buchholz replaces Hernandez. Lowell becomes their third baseman as Adrian Beltre is set to become a free agent. Kotchman slots in as a Gold Glove defender at first, and the Mariners can opt to bring Russ Branyan back regardless as a DH.

From Boston’s perspective, Hernandez protects against Josh Beckett leaving as a free agent after 2010. If he doesn’t, then who’s complaining? A deep pitching staff is what we thought we had in 2009 … might as well make darn sure we have it in 2010 and beyond.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 roster:

Lineup

3B Chone Figgins

2B Dustin Pedroia

C Victor Martinez (Jason Varitek backup)

1B Kevin Youkilis

DH David Ortiz

LF Jason Bay

RF J.D. Drew

CF Jacoby Ellsbury (Brian Anderson backup)

SS Alex Gonzalez (Jed Lowrie backup)

Pitching

SP Josh Beckett

SP Jon Lester

SP Felix Hernandez

SP Daisuke Matsuzaka

SP Rich Harden

SP/RP Tim Wakefield

RP (Same as 2009)

CL Jonathan Papelbon

What do you guys think about this blueprint? Can it be done? Should it be done?

Categories: Alex Gonzalez Chone Figgins Felix Hernandez Jason Bay Jason Varitek Rich Harden Tim Wakefield

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

33 Responses to “Red Sox Offseason Blueprint v.1: Figgins, King Felix head to Boston” Subscribe

  1. marcos October 14, 2009 at 8:19 AM #

    Jason Bay scares I don't think he'll age well, he K's too much. I say sign Figgins to play SS. If Figgins is fast enough to steal 41 bases, he should have enough range to play SS. Besides SS is his natural position. I think they should sign Abreu to a 2 year deal and play him in LF. Trade Olrtiz, he is toast, maybe the Twins will take him back. Make Lowell play some DH. Sign Johnny Damon to play 1B and play youk at 3rd most of the time. Damon has played 1B before, plus he's very athletic.

  2. UVMike October 14, 2009 at 8:32 AM #

    When we talk about significant minor league peices are we talking about the likes of Bowden, Tazawa or Kelly? I assume Kelly is not going anywhere as we call him untouchable, but just a couple off seasons ago we wouldnt part with Buchholz for Santana so who knows. Do we think that this line up has more of that fire/spirit/enjoyment of the game that we all lament as having been gone from this team?

    • evanbrunell October 14, 2009 at 11:19 AM #

      I talk about any minor leaguer sans Kelly. Bowden and/or Tazawa would almost certainly be part of this deal. Reddick or Westmoreland would certainly also be in the discussion.

      • UVMike October 14, 2009 at 3:26 PM #

        I'd be surprised if we were to make a trade involving all or even most of those pieces, as the FO seems gunshy on selling the farm (like we wouldnt for Cliff Lee or the other A-Gon). I dont know that i would feel comfortable with that, but i sometimes worry that that comes from watching HanRam explode and overreacting to it. I've been following Buchholz since he was new to the farm system, and it pains me to ship those guys away. Not saying i wouldn't because Felix is a remarkable talent, but it would hurt to do.

  3. Mal Tempo October 14, 2009 at 9:17 AM #

    Another so-called expert with ludicrous insights.

    • evanbrunell October 14, 2009 at 11:19 AM #

      If you believe they're ludicrous, I have an house with a view of the ocean to sell you in Wyoming.

  4. JoeSox October 14, 2009 at 10:05 AM #

    For all the talk about Holliday in the AL, in the end his OBP during his time in Oakland was only 8 points lower than Bay's entire year in Boston. His average was higher than Bay's too. He also struck out much less. Take Holliday out of that stadium and insert him into a line-up that gets on base more often and he can be good. Not to mention the better fielder (NLDS drop aside) who can stay in the fielder longer. Yes, he'll probably want 7 years, but Bay might want 5 years, and I'd be scared to give him that.

  5. Mike October 14, 2009 at 11:10 AM #

    Heh. Let's trade our crap(Lowell/Kotchman) for arguably the best pitcher in the game. They'd want Buchholz? A guy who is older than Felix?

    • evanbrunell October 14, 2009 at 11:18 AM #

      Uhh… Buchholz was going to be a major part of the King Felix deal back in July. Are you even bothering to factor in service time and money? Are you bothering to factor in that the Mariners need an above-average 3B and that their GM highly values defense (Kotchman)?

    • evanbrunell October 14, 2009 at 11:22 AM #

      " The Seattle Times reported Monday that the Red Sox made a five-for-one offer for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. They reportedly gave Seattle a list of eight players, and told the M’s they could pick five.

      The eight players were pitchers Daniel Bard, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, Michael Bowden and Felix Doubront, shortstop Yamaico Navarro and outfielder Josh Reddick. "

      Link, lots of goodies in this, including a 3-way with Padres that Theo wanted to get done. Also mentions why Seattle didn't pull the trigger.

      • Tim Daloisio October 14, 2009 at 12:12 PM #

        I agree that Lowell and Kotchman don't provide any real meat to the deal. They would be little more than stop gap solutions (i.e. little value but complimentary parts) for a Seattle team that would be sacrificing the present for 2 years out.

        That said…let's look at the list above. Masterson and Hagadone are gone. So you would need to give away Bard, Buchholz, Bowden, Doubront, Reddick at least to make this go. I think you can sign a FA like Lackey or Bedard and trade some pieces for others that may make more sense.

        But I can't give away my master plan yet. More on that on Friday morning.

  6. gr3g October 14, 2009 at 12:51 PM #

    Why are we in a rush to get Lowell out of town? Getting rid of Lowell made sense to make room for the likes of a Mark Teixeira but Lowell did have a pretty good year offensively this year. Given another year for his hip to heal, it'l likely he'll be even better defensively next year. I'm not saying he's going reenter his prime, but considering the 'sox will likely have to pay some of his salary to trade him, I don't see why that makes the team better. This teams offensive weaknesses were shortstop, catcher and DH.

  7. Bryan October 14, 2009 at 1:21 PM #

    Red Sox Nation is still bleeding…Why don't you guys take some time off and watch the best team in Beantown – The Celtics!

    • Sean O October 14, 2009 at 6:40 PM #

      I will… when the games count.

    • jvwalt October 14, 2009 at 2:44 PM #

      Because this is a Red Sox blog, perhaps?????

      • Bryan October 14, 2009 at 3:38 PM #

        Just having a little green fun, Still heart broken after an abrupt season end. I must say I'd rather lose to the Angels that the pin stripped pricks in the Bronx. What about DH if Papi doesn't show up again?

  8. MEe October 14, 2009 at 2:21 PM #

    Getting King Felix would be nice, but you are crazy thinking Seattle would have any interest in picking up Lowell or Kotchman. Why would they pick up $16+ in salaries? Lowell is going nowhere unless we pay his salary, which is crazy.

    • evanbrunell October 14, 2009 at 2:46 PM #

      Boston would certainly pick up a chunk of salary.

      However, many forget this: Seattle is not a small market. They can sustain 100M payrolls.

  9. evanbrunell October 14, 2009 at 6:46 PM #

    I disagree that Lowell holds no value… I would be perfectly fine with him opening 2010 as Boston's 3B…

    As for Kotchman, yes, Seattle would have to find value in Kotchy to take him… Boston did the same too, don't you forget. They haven't ruled out him being a starter. This is a guy who is coming off a down season but is by no means done as a contributor.

  10. Gerry October 14, 2009 at 3:36 PM #

    Excellent template. I would hang onto Mike and expect a ++ season. Figgins or Crawford would energize the team, but I see one of them in LF if J.Bay wants more than 4+1/$65-70MM, which is possible. No Boras/Holliday. Harden, yes! Maybe Bedard or Sheets instead of Felix. The only way I move Mike or Buchholz would be for A.Gonzales of San Diego, and then I would move Mike to DH with Papi. THAT would take low $$/high ceiling Buchholz, Lowrie, MDC, Anderson ++, and be worth it. Figgins/Crawford +AGon = 200HR, extraordinary OBP & 200SB.

  11. Craigga October 14, 2009 at 3:51 PM #

    4 Sport Boston is leading the way in the support to retain Jason Bay. Bay's bat, glove, and his level head make him a premier athlete and he is able to keep his name off the lips (and fingertips) of the negative Boston media which is a huge plus.

    'Tek I would pay him his $5M just to be the bench coach as Millsy hits the high road. Keep him happy and let him continue to be mental force on our side without taking up a roster spot. I am ok with one of the young guys catching a day a week. Most teams have a hard time getting one good catcher, having a good backup catcher is near impossible anyway.

    • ChiTomA October 14, 2009 at 5:51 PM #

      Bay's glove is one thing that really detracts from an otherwise great JBay package. I'd be wholly in favor of this if Bay's glove were even remotely average. His UZR this year was -13.9 and his range has gotten steadily worse each of the last four years. If we sign him to a 4 year deal, what's his defense going to look like in 2 or 3 years? It won't be pretty.

      I really like Jason Bay, but its a tough decision about whether or not to resign him versus going after some of the options out there…namely Holliday who is much better with the glove than JBay.

  12. Kurt October 14, 2009 at 5:50 PM #

    Possible DH solution: Resign Baldelli and platoon Ortiz and Baldelli(when Baldelli is healthy enough obviously). Baldelli hit lefties very well this year and Ortiz hit righties much better than lefties. I know Baldelli is a free agent, but he hit well in limited time and is most definitely a better option than Brian Anderson.

    • ericinboston October 15, 2009 at 10:21 PM #

      how is this a solution? this is one of the weaknesses that needs to be corrected for this team to compete for a division title next year. all you're doing is bringing back the exact same pieces you had last year.

      that's not a solution… that's doing nothing and hoping ortiz has a 'bounce back' year and baldelli stays healthy enough to contribute.

      championship clubs don't compete every year based on hope. they compete on sound decision making and this is not it.

  13. Pat, Kingston October 15, 2009 at 1:30 AM #

    I love Figgins as a player, but not as a 4-5 year contract. Lowell is at the end of a contract right now that is a burden. Chone gets hurt a lot, and I see his last year or two of a 5 year contract with a lot of time on the bench. Speed ages quicker than power, and that's where a lot of his value lies.

    If we can trade Lowell to someone who needs 1 year of 3B, and might want the veteran presence, we do it for cheap. We'd have to foot a lot of the bill. Still, I would love to do this. Having both Ortiz and Lowell on the roster next year is a depressing thought.

    I'd love to move Youk to third, and Kotchman or V-Mart to first for full time duties. If it's Casey at first, V-mart behind the dish. If it's Victor at first, then we get a replacement catcher (with a good arm., please).

    As for Hernandez? Buchholz is the better value right now. Lester, Buchholz, and Daisuke is a good core moving into 2011. I think it would be stupid to trade Clay for Felix, considering the king is about to get a huge ransom. No thanks.

  14. bob October 15, 2009 at 6:58 AM #

    I like your thought process here, especially the figgins idea. I think it's absolutely essential that the Red Sox re-sign Bay and I think another power bat is necessary, but I just don't see where one can be had so it looks like we're going to have to cross our fingers and hope Lars Anderson pans out. I think trading for Hernandez would be a great idea as it gives us the best righty/lefty combo possible for the next 5 years at least. Buchholz, Bowden, Reddick, Kalish, and a lower level pitcher like Fife or Pimentel gets it done and in my mind is worth it for a guy whos a top-rotation stud and the Sox could control through his prime.

  15. Ken October 15, 2009 at 8:39 AM #

    How about instead of signing Figgins, the Sox go for a cheaper, younger and more comparable player to Bay. I'm hoping the Sox try to sign M. Byrd. He can play all three OF spots and has posted an .800+ OPS over each of the last three seasons. He will be much cheaper in terms of years and dollars in comparison to most of the other replacements floated around.

    Now when it comes to trading for King Felix, I think your Seattle would laugh you out of town with that offer, Evan. Really, Lowell and Kotchman hold little value, especially when you consider Lowells health, age and salary. Besides, I think holding onto Clay not only gives the Sox a rising star in the rotation, but also allows them financial flexibility to resign Beckett/Martinez and make a play for Mauer.

    My Sox 2010 roster:

    Lineup

    CF Ellsbury
    2B Pedroia
    C/1B Martinez
    1B/3B Youkilis
    DH Ortiz
    LF Byrd
    RF Drew
    3B Lowell
    SS Gonzalez(option not picked up, but a deal worked out)

    Starters

    Beckett
    Lester
    Buchholz
    Matsuzaka
    Wakefield
    * B. Sheets or B. Myers signed to performance based contracts

    Relief

    Papelbon
    Bard
    Okajima
    Ramirez
    Delcarmen
    Saito

    • ericinboston October 15, 2009 at 9:28 AM #

      ken – brett meyers?!?! are you f'ing serious??? the same brett myers that dragged his fiance through the streets of boston by her hair??

      yes! i def want that dude on our team!

  16. Tom October 15, 2009 at 11:28 AM #

    Do you think other teams exist, so they can benefit the Sox? What an idiot…

    If you want Felix, the package better start with Lester because he will be the best pitcher in the league and he's only 23 and Seattle is not trading him for a bunch of garbage you mentioned.

  17. John Cate October 15, 2009 at 2:59 PM #

    There's no way the Mariners would make that deal for Felix. Even if the Red Sox picked up Lowell's salary, no deal.

    Anyway, if the Red Sox want to make a blockbuster trade for anyone, it should be with the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez, not for any pitcher. Make that deal, keep Buchholz and find a shortstop.

  18. Jamal October 15, 2009 at 7:56 PM #

    Are you retarded? Why would the Mariners take on Mike Lowell's crypt keeper ass, along with some bums for their franchise player? They may not be able to afford him after his contract is up, but is that any reason to take on a bunch of shit, with 1 decent pitcher? And DHing Branyon…you are retarded, why did I even bother asking?

  19. spanky October 15, 2009 at 5:54 PM #

    Keep dreaming about getting Felix. The Mariner's have the money to keep him, especially with all the salary coming off the books. If only we could do something about that Carlos Silva contract though geeze…

  20. Gerry October 21, 2009 at 12:38 AM #

    With Kenji's salary added to the lot, Z has $50+ fouind money to play with. Part of that will go to Felix as the anchor of the new M's. It might be the Mariners that pick up Chone for LF, giving them the D and OBP they are building towards. With a few tweaks, Felix, and spending that money, this team could compete in the ALW next year, and that's amazing. They will build this team around the King & Ichiro.