The Cafardo Mail Bag: Super Serious Edition

At this point, there’s no need for an introduction.  We all know the drill, so let’s jump right in.

I have two questions.

1. When a player has major surgery and misses an entire year and is still under contract, I know that they are still getting paid, but do teams have insurance to reimburse them for this and do they still count against the cap?

2. Do you think that MLB will ever get rid of the Sept. 1 expansion of the Major League roster. It is, in my opinion, a really bad and unfair rule in that teams play for five months with a 25-man roster and then in the thick of pennant races, it expands to a 40-man roster.

As Nick pointed out, teams take out insurance policies on some (but not all) of their big contracts.  The problem is that insurance tends to be pretty expensive.  Just like health or life insurance,  premiums increase as risk compounds.  As a player gets ages, he frequently not only becomes more susceptible to injury, but also sees an increase in his annual salary.  Therefore, as a player ages, the insurance premium on said player’s contract is likely to increase.  The terms of these insurance policies are confidential, and typically only will cover specific seasons of a long-term deal.  Regardless of whether or not an injured player’s contract is covered by insurance, his average annual salary will continue to count against the luxury tax.

As for your second question, I agree that September roster expansions can certainly be anti-competitive.  That said, allowing teams to add a few extra players to the roster in September is beneficial over the long-term as it gives prospects valuable playing time in potentially stressful situations.  Perhaps a better option would be to mandate that all teams expand their rosters to no more 28 or 30 players by no later than September 7th.  This option would standardize roster expansions, and keep some teams from expanding to 37 and others expanding to 28.

Bear with me here, if you will. Last season, after all of the prime acquisitions made, the Red Sox won just one more game than they did in their injury-plagued 2010 (though September 2011 also had its fair share of injuries). I know that September of last year is not what this team is deep down, and I know they are a championship-caliber club, but clearly some things need to change. The fact that they won one more game than in 2010 means that something is wrong with this group.

The one thing that will truly change this team’s look is when our prospects start claiming spots on the roster. Ryan Lavarnway should start at catcher this year, and I believe that either mid-season or in 2013, Jose Iglesias and Will Middlebrooks should take over. Making a trade now is not going to help the Sox. Kevin Youkilis will be dealt, but not now when his stock is at a penny. Give it time, and these young guys will curb our sour thoughts about this Red Sox club. Sign some free agents now, but don’t do anything too drastic, yet. Stay the course, this team is far better than it showed in September. 

I don’t think anything is wrong with this group per se.  As you mentioned yourself, the team had it’s fair share of injuries; although it was far more widespread than just September.  Still, a few cosmetic changes do need to be made to the team; first and foremost to right field, the back-end of the rotation, and high-leverage relief.  I think Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be given every chance to hold down the job full time.  Lavarnway will certainly be in the mix at catcher, but I can see him both starting 40 games there and receiving a handful of starts at 1B and DH as necessary.  Though Middlebrooks and Iglesias have immense potential, both proved last season they still have a lot to work on in AAA.  Expect them to play a full season in Pawtucket with both players receiving late season call-ups.  Overall, I agree.  Staying the course is the right move.

Red Sox should give Matt Murton a shot at right field. Low-risk and can perform at least as well as Reddick/Kalish. Then, is Heath Bell better than Ryan Madson? Seems like Scott Boras wants too much for Madson. Bell for two years and more money than San Diego is offering should do it.

Lastly, Theo and six prospects for Matt Garza? Hear me out. (Keep Middlebrooks, Lavarnway, and Xavier Bogaerts.) Make an agreement with the Cubs to send them our two compensation picks for Papelbon? Theo could even help us draft them, (two pitchers probably) and they be sent as two players to be named later. So: Reddick, Anthony Ranaudo, Lars Anderson, the two picks, and they keep whatever players they owned the Sox.

I really like Matt Murton, but I don’t think he’s going to get a chance to start in the majors with a contending team.  He’s one of those classic undervalued players who does a lot of things well, but nothing spectacular.  Unfortunately, too many teams see him as a platoon player, rather than a starter.

As for your Garza trade proposal, it’s an interesting idea, but I don’t see the Red Sox landing him without giving up at least one of the three prospects you mentioned.  First of all, starting pitching is at a premium, and Garza is coming off a career season where he produced a 2.95 FIP and 5.0 fWAR.  Several teams are likely to be interested him on the account he’s 27 years old and still has two seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining.  The Yankees, also in serious need of starting pitching, are thought to be willing to part with either Jesus Montero or Dellin Betances in order to obtain him.  In this scenario, it’s unlikely the Cubs will be willing to take quantity of prospects from the Red Sox over quality with the Yankees (or some other team).

Furthermore, the Red Sox can’t trade their draft picks until one year after the prospect has been signed to a contract.  For example, when the Indians acquired Ubaldo Jimenez, Drew Pomeranz was considered to be the cornerstone of the package being sent to Colorado.  Since Pomeranz was drafted in the 2010, and hadn’t signed until August 15th; the Indians had to call the fourth player in the deal a “player to be named later.”  On August 15th, he was officially dealt to the Rockies.

Lastly, no one outside of the Red Sox organization knows the Red Sox farm system better than Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod.  I can’t imagine they’re terribly interested in acquiring a future fourth outfielder (Reddick) and a quad-A first baseman (Anderson) for Garza.

If John Farrell signed his contract with the Blue Jays understanding that there was an open-door policy to go to another team if he wanted to, and then in midstream, the club changes that policy, couldn’t he file a grievance if he wanted to leave ?

Interesting question, but clubs have the right to change their policy at will.  Unless there was a provision in his contract that specifically stated he would be allowed to leave for another team should an attractive managerial opportunity open, he’s bound to the team.

Was wondering what your thoughts were in regards to Theo being with the Cubs and his friendship with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Do you think this gives the Yankees an edge over the Sox in regard to the impact deals Cashman and Theo can now make to help facilitate each team’s improvements?

It’s certainly possible, but this sounds more like the beginnings of a conspiracy theory than anything else.  Theo also has an excellent relationship with Ben Cherington, so I don’t see why either Theo or Jed Hoyer would favor one GM over the other.

Following the selection of a manager, which we all assume will be forthcoming shortly, it seems that the next order of business for the team is pitching, pitching, and more pitching. In terms of a starter, are you expecting the Sox to make a deal for a starting pitcher? If so, who is your realistic list of teams and pitchers with whom the Sox match up to make a deal for a solid rotation addition?

Clearly, this question was asked before Bobby V was named the manager, but the rest of the question is still valid.  With two gaping holes in the rotation, the Red Sox need pitching and they need it soon.  Personally, I think the Red Sox best options are going after low-risk/high-reward guys like Erik Bedard, Roy Oswalt, Hiroki Kuroda, Paul Maholm, or Jeff Francis.  Each of those guys has their flaws, but they should prove to be worthy of their contracts.  Edwin Jackson is another pitcher I like an awful lot.  He’s 28, has ace quality stuff, and has been a consistent 3.5 fWAR pitcher for the last three seasons.

On the trade side of the coin, Matt Garza is an option, but so is Gio Gonzalez.  After watching Garza kill the Red Sox time and again for the Rays, we know what he’s capable of doing.  Gonzalez has a ton of potential, but he walks a lot of batters.  Considering he’s only 26 and has four seasons of arbitration remaining, his trade value is likely to exceed the risk involved in acquiring him.  That said, he has a ton of potential.  If he can improve his command without losing velocity or seeing a drop in his strikeout totals, the reward would be significant.  Still, I worry he’s closer to Oliver Perez than Randy Johnson.  He’s worth looking at, but I wouldn’t sell the farm for him.

John Danks of the White Sox is another intriguing option.  He’s the kind of young, solid middle of the rotation every contending team needs.

I know you don’t agree, but I still think Ben will need the gorilla suit at some point. 

You’re right, I don’t agree.  Ben’s pretty experienced dealing with the ownership group.  He’s doing just fine.  We, as fans and writers, need to be patient, and not jump to conclusions.  Rumors and conspiracy theories are a lot of fun, but they’re rarely accurate.  All they do is create controversy where no really exists.

Good call on Michael Cuddyer for right field in last week’s mailbag. I totally forgot about him. Thoughts on guys returning to the Sox next year: Erik Bedard? Tim Wakefield? Mike Aviles? And the hardest to swallow — could the Sox say goodbye to Jason Varitek?

I’ve already stated why Cuddyer is not “the perfect fit” in Boston (as Cafardo said earlier this week), so I’m not going to explain it again.  To answer your question: No, No, and Yes.  As for Jason Varitek, I think they make him a good faith contract offer before letting him leave for greener pastures.  It’s time, and everyone knows it.

I just read your comment about Bobby Valentine being good with Japanese players any chance the Red Sox might look at acquiring Kei Igawa, the $46-million minor leaguer, from the Yankees? Nothing would bring a bigger smile to my face than to burn the Yankees by turning Igawa into a major leaguer and possible Yankee killer. But would the asking price be too high?

Stop.  Please, just stop.  Remember how much Red Sox fans hated Daisuke Matsuzaka?  Igawa was worse.  Much, much worse.  He was such a disaster in New York that he threw only four innings in the major leagues after 2007–and all four innings were thrown in 2008.  Pass.  A million times, pass.

Hi Nick, I have a blockbuster trade idea to ask you about. What if the Red Sox gave up Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, Anthony Ranaudo, and Kevin Youkilis (with cash) to go get Clayton Kershaw? Do you think that trade could work? The Sox could then just go after David Ortiz and Aramis Ramirez to fill third base and DH. while having Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz as the top four guys in the rotation.

This might be the single greatest overpay in the history of trade offers.  Kershaw is a really special player, but I’m not giving up an All Star centerfielder, a fireballing closer, a slugging third baseman, and a top pitching prospect for a single player.  Youk, Ells, and Bard were worth 15 WAR alone last year, while Kershaw was worth 6.8.  Do the math.  Plus, while Ortiz and Ramirez are nice players, they’re players on the wrong side of their prime.  You’re giving up a lot for one guy.  It doesn’t make any sense.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Nick Cafardo Mail Bag

After being slapped with a restraining order for stealing Nick Cafardo's mail, I was forced into retirement for a brief period of time. As fun as it was to lounge around the community pool and play shuffleboard with noted internet columnist, Murray Chass, I quickly felt a yearning to write again. Now in my second tenure with Fire Brand, I have set lofty goals of achieving world domination, ending the plight of the hipsters, and becoming BFFs with Mike Trout. I am fluent in two languages (Sarcasm and English, in that order); have an intimate relationship with M&Ms; firmly believe that Lucille is the best character on Arrested Development; and spend my spare time trolling select members of the Boston media. You can follow me on Twitter @Chip_Buck.

9 Responses to “The Cafardo Mail Bag: Super Serious Edition” Subscribe

  1. GreggB December 2, 2011 at 8:58 AM #

    Chip, what's the point of answering Nick's mailbag? This is getting old. You do much better stuff than this!

  2. Ben December 2, 2011 at 10:45 AM #

    I apologize in advance for the really long rambling comment, but I've got nothing to do for the next 45 minutes, so I might as well.

    Look at it this way: If the red sox sign Ortiz and Aramis, they can have a dynamic duo of Ortiz and Ramirez in the middle of the order – something that worked out well last time.

    In all seriousness, the proposed Kershaw trade is a major overpay (even though Kershaw is a great player, and still quite young). Also, the Sox don't need an ace, they need a couple starters to fill out the back of the rotation – Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz are a very good 1-2-3 combo. According to baseball-reference, Ellsbury was worth just .4 WAR less than Kershaw last year, so a fair trade would be Ellsbury+some prospect for Kershaw. But LA has Matt Kemp in center and Andre Ethier in right (assuming they don't trade him). What are they going to do with Ellsbury?

    Personally I like Hiroki Kuroda best of the FAs, even though he's 36. The Sox also do have some internal options – they could start Alfredo Aceves in the back of the rotation, and will probably see if Felix Doubront is ready to start. The way I see it, they'll sign or trade for a fourth starter, and then, depending on what they see from Doubront in spring training, will let him start, go with Aceves as the in-house option, or go scrounging for someone else.

    This wasn't mentioned in the post, but the Bard as a starter rumors do not seem like a good idea (if the Sox plan on making Bard a starter, which they probably don't). He's thrown 70+ innings two years in a row, which seems to be (in my opinion, at least) the biggest reason for his September breakdown. As the closer, he'll have a smaller workload, while in 2010-11 he was the eighth inning guy in a save situation, and was often the 9th inning guy in a non-save situation. If he can't handle 70 innings a year, he'll never be able to handle 175+ innings.

  3. stoveleague December 2, 2011 at 1:50 PM #

    Just to balance the scales; Chip, I enjoy reading your answers to Nick's questions.

  4. marcos December 2, 2011 at 4:09 PM #

    i'd like to think Nick has more knowledge and inside info when it comes to the Red Sox than Chip. So Chip who died and made you Nick Cafardo????

  5. marcos December 2, 2011 at 4:38 PM #

    hey man you really come off as arrogant and condescending but that's just my opinion. Another thing, if you want people asking you baseball questions create your own mail bag

    • ChipBuck December 3, 2011 at 6:49 AM #

      Marcos – All I'm doing is sharing my opinions on the questions. Everyone has a different take on things, and I try to provide an alternative. That's all.

      I'm not doing it to be mean to Nick. In fact, I really like Nick as a reporter; even if I disagree with him. I didn't make fun him in any way. If you must know, I was considering creating my own mail bag. That said, if you choose to send in a question, I'll treat with the same respect you give everyone else. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll appreciate the answers.

      • marcos December 3, 2011 at 12:10 PM #

        man i'm just messing with you. how could a person have that much vile toward another without even knowing them? Most of the time i'm just joking. if were you i wouldn't pay attention to what i say. although you know deep down you know i have a point. i'm just a mean spirited SOB

  6. CrashDavis December 2, 2011 at 6:39 PM #

    personally i love the idea of these posts. keep it up

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    [...] The Cafardo Mail Bag: Super Serious Edition The Cafardo Mail Bag: Super Serious Edition The one thing that will truly change this team's look is when our prospects start claiming spots on the roster. Ryan Lavarnway should start at catcher this year, and I believe that either mid-season or in 2013, Jose Iglesias and Will Middlebrooks … Read more on Fire Brand of the American League [...]