Cafardo Mailbag: My Eyes are Bleeding

Oh, what a glorious day!  It’s time for another Cafardo mailbag, and this one is pretty epic.  We have a confirmed troll, a likely troll, more Youk trade questions, a Shaughnessy appearance, and much, much more.  Let’s not waste any time, though.  Let’s dive right in.  I hope you took some antacids because you’ll probably need it.

What do you think about a three-way trade? Red Sox get John Lannan. Washington gets Jason Bourgeois. Astros get a decent second-level prospect It has been reported that the Nationals already tried to get Bourgeois for Lannan.

I’m not really sure I see workable trade here.  With the starting pitching market being so thin right now, Lannan should be a reasonably hot commodity until better options become available.  Despite his obvious flaws (low strikeout rate, high contact rate, average walk rate), he should be able to net more than Jason Bourgeois.  No disrespect to Bourgeois, 30, but he’s average fielding fourth outfielder with no power or on-base abilities.  Those types of players are a dime a dozen.  Yes, he can steal bases, but what good is that skill if he can’t get to first base in the first place?  If I were the Nationals, I’d pass immediately.

Is Mike Aviles the favorite for the shortstop job or is it still too early to tell?

As I mentioned on Wednesday, Aviles seems to have the inside track on the starting job.  He’s easily the best hitter of his competitors, and projects to be middle of the road defensively.  Still, people seem to be so enamored with Jose Iglesias‘s defensive skills that they seem willing to overlook the fact that he can’t hit…at all.  Believe me, I get it.  He’s going to save a bunch of runs on the defensive side of the ball.  But will he save enough runs to justify giving him regular plate appearances?  I don’t think he will.  For someone that produced a .260 wOBA in AAA last season, it’s pretty obvious he needs at least one more season in the minors.  The job should go to Aviles.

I believe that Tony Conigliaro’s number should be retired. What do you think ?

Nick Cafardo also believes Tony C’s number should be retired because he thinks Conigliaro would have been a Hall of Famer.  He could be right, but he could also be wrong.  I think most of us believed Nomar was on his way to Cooperstown after the 2003 season.  We knew neither his career would be completely derailed by injuries, nor he’d bounce from team to team.  It happens.  Cafardo can play the “What if” game, but I prefer to play the reality version.  Conigliaro isn’t a Hall of Famer, therefore his number shouldn’t be retired.  If the Red Sox decide to change the rules on retiring numbers, we can revisit this discussion.  It won’t change my mind, but we can revisit it.

Would anyone even consider this for a solution to the Bard/Aceves in the rotation debate? They pitch every fifth game as a tandem with one throwing 5 innings and the other 4, switching off who starts and who finishes the game. At 30 starts total that is 135 innings for each, which is conveniently right around their projected limit. This would maximize the innings out of both of them and should keep them fresh down the stretch and (hopefully) into the playoffs. Is there any precedent for this? I can’t recall another team converting two relievers to starters in the same season.

I don’t see how this would be helpful to the team at all.  I’d rather Bard get used to starting rather than shuffling him between the rotation and the bullpen.  He needs to get used to mentally preparing to start a game.  As for Aceves, I strongly believe he’ll start the season in the bullpen.

I think the Red Sox should be looking for the third baseman of the future. Kevin Youkilis is getting up there and hasn’t proven he can stay healthy for a full season. Will Middlebrooks is impatient at the plate and doesn’t fit the typical Red Sox model of a player who doesn’t give away at bats. Do you think the Sox would consider trading for Rangers minor leaguer Mike Olt? He plays plus defense and has power and patience and is blocked by Adrian Beltre at third base. Maybe the Sox could trade Crawford for Olt and Jurickson Profar to build the left side infield of the future. 

This question was submitted by Fire Brand reader and master fisherman Jody White (@vtbasser).  It’s a master trolling job.  Carl Crawford for Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar?  Very well done, Jody.  Very well done.

Could you explain the terms of the minor league contracts Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla, and Ross Ohlendorf are on? Are there differences between the three contracts? How long can the Sox keep those guys in the minors? Also, what are the terms of Scott Atchison‘s contract? Presumably he could start at Pawtucket and be brought up. But if he is on the major league roster at any time, can he be sent down? Or, once he’s up do they risk losing him if they try send him out? I’m surprised I don’t see much more written about this because it impacts how long-term roster management may be seen by the Sox, especially if all these guys do well, which right now is petty much happening … in which case the Sox might want to find a way to keep all of them. 

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Cook and Padilla are signed to minor league contracts that would max out at $1.5M if they were called up to the majors.  Cook’s deal also includes an opt out clause that would allow him to terminate his contract if he isn’t on the major league roster by May 1st.  Ohlendorf is signed to a minor league deal, but I couldn’t find a corresponding pre-negotiated major league salary.  Chances are, he’ll play for the league minimum if he’s promoted.  As for Atchison, he’s out of minor league options.  If the club doesn’t include him on the Opening Day roster, he’d have to clear waivers before they could assign him to Pawtucket.

So is Jerry Royster trying to get everyone thrown out at home this spring? I know Dale Sveum isn’t available; where’s Wendell Kim these days?


What is your take on Adrian Gonzalez? Dan Shaughnessy wrote, “Gonzalez is one sour dude. Almost Nomar-esque. Nobody likes a know-it-all.” I didn’t think he was like that. Chemistry problem down the line?

I think CHB is full of crap.  Nobody likes a know-it-all?  Wow.  The lack of self-awareness by Shaughnessy is truly breathtaking.  It’s almost as funny as when he calls Curt Schilling a blowhard.

Why do the Red Sox always go out and get players they need, but get them when they are too old or on the way out of baseball, and give them way too much money?

The only person that comes to mind is Jason Varitek, although I suppose you could make a case for J.D. Drew and/or John Lackey.  Even still, all three players have/had periods of productivity after signing their contracts.  For the most part, the Red Sox do a pretty good job with not overpaying players.

If Iglesias is such a slick infielder why don’t the Red Sox assign a hitting coach to him on a daily basis to give him the ability to hit major league pitching? 

Iglesias is the shortstop of the future.  I’m pretty sure they have someone working with him every chance they get in hopes of making him a passable hitter in the majors.

Youkilis looks to be a defensive liability. With Middlebrooks ready, Kolbin Vitek down the road, and Nick Punto here, why wouldn’t the Sox be looking for some young arms for Youk. Would July be the time even if they are in the playoff hunt?

Middlebrooks is ready?  In what universe?  We’re talking about the same Middlebrooks that has below average plate discipline and only 60 PAs in AAA, right?  Look, he’s very good defensively at third, and has legitimate power.  That said, he needs at least a full season in AAA to work on improving his ability to take walks and avoid strikeouts.  He has the potential to be a solid major league starter, but he’s definitely not a finished product.  He could just as easily be a star as he could be a bust at this point.  My suggestion to you is to quit drinking the Middlebrooks Kool-Aid.

I personally don’t see a great need to switch up the Sox lineup, given the production the first five slots showed last season. However, as a high school coach, such thought experiments are always fun. I’m wondering what you think of batting Youkilis second and Pedroia cleanup. This would break up the lead footed A-Gon-Youk-Papi threesome and get the “Greek God of Walks” in front of their run-producers.

I actually really like this idea, and I’d have no problems with regularly seeing this lineup.

On March 7, Peter Abraham wrote: “[Brett] Lawrie hit a drive to the wall in right that Sweeney made a terrific catch on.Sweeney is a vastly underrated defensive player. He could be a good fit at Fenway Park in right field.” Why is Sweeney underrated? He is underrated offensively and defensively. I think you media people have something to do with this. Am I right? After Sweeney was 4 for 5 with a HR and 5 RBIs, he sat on the bench. Is this objective baseball, Nick?
– Vicente, Cali, Colombia

This is Vicente’s third Cafardo mailbag question over the past few months, and each one of them has been about Ryan Sweeney.  You might remember him comparing Sweeney to Fred Lynn in back-to-back mailbags in January.  Clearly, Vicente has something of a man crush for our new right fielder.  Ryan, if you’re reading this, you might want to watch your back.

Does Clayton Mortensen have any chance on being the fourth or fifth starter?

Is Jonathan Papelbon smarter than the power drill you have sitting in your garage?  No, of course not.  The answer is the same to your question.  No, he doesn’t have a chance of being the fourth or fifth starter.  Or sixth or seventh for that matter.

Will the Sox make a push for Roy Oswalt sometime during spring training?

Roy Oswalt is following in the footsteps of Roger Clemens (and yes, Pedro Martinez) by sitting out the first couple months in hopes of scoring a better contract.  It’s awfully douchy.  The Sox could make a March push for the former Astros ace, but I don’t think it’ll do much.  May seems like a better timeframe for the Oswalt sweepstakes to heat up.

I don’t understand what influence Bill James has with the club. John Lackey, Crawford, and some other major signings did not have “James-like” stats. Lackey’s WHIP was not great, Crawford’s OBP was not good and James used to preach that signing speed was questionable when “speed” players got older. Do you know if James wanted Lackey or Crawford? What’s your opinion of James’s influence?

Wow.  I don’t even know where to start.  Clearly, the person writing in to Cafardo is either clueless about advanced statistic or he’s trolling.  I’m leaning towards trolling, but I’ll play along and answer the question seriously.

First of all, OBP and WHIP are not “James-like” stats.  They’re the most basic of advanced statistics, and probably shouldn’t even be considered as such.  I’m surprised he didn’t pull out VORP, which is every anti-stat dinosaur’s favorite lightning rod.  Way to get out from behind your typewriter to join the ranks of 2003.  In another 20 years, you’ll have finally caught up to us in 2012.  Nice work.  Secondly, multiple studies have shown that speed ages pretty well, provided the player in question has other skills (extra base power, on-base abilities, defensive skills) in his tool belt.  The fact that James “used to preach” that signing speed was questionable is irrelevant.  His views may (or even, likely) have changed over time.  Thirdly, why does it matter if James supported the Lackey and Crawford signings?  It almost seems like he’s looking for a reason to blame Bill James and the stat crowd for the “downfall” of the Red Sox.

As for James’s influence, it’s tough to say.  We know he does statistical projections and player evaluations.  We also know that he’s held in very high esteem by John Henry and former-GM Theo Epstein.  I think there are times where management requests his opinion regarding a specific player, but I don’t believe it’s taken as the end-all be-all.

After unloading Marco Scutaro, I really thought that the Sox would make a serious run at obtaining Oswalt or Edwin Jackson. Meanwhile, Cherington made two laughable offers to each free agent, and we still do not know who the fifth starter will be. I find it hard to believe that the Red Sox needed to trade Scoot in order to give Cody Ross a $3 million contract. What do you think management was thinking when they made this deal? 

Well, I don’t know how laughable the offers were to Jackson and Oswalt.  Jackson didn’t sign until late January, and Oswalt is still a free agent.  Clearly, many teams questioned their salary demands.

As for Scutaro, I’m not sure why Red Sox fans are getting all hung up on him being traded.  He’s Marco freaking Scutaro, people!  He’s a nice player, but not that good!  Yes, he’s serviceable, but he’s a 36 year old shortstop with average range and questionable arm strength.  Are you telling me that you were excited about seeing him trot out to short this spring?  It’s not like we traded away Troy Tulowitski or even J.J. Hardy for that matter.  Let’s accept things for what they are and move on.

What do you think are Darnell McDonald‘s chances of making the team this year, especially with him being out of options and with other more appealing options such as Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney. To me, I can’t imagine that he will be able to make the team!

McDonald will make the team out of Spring Training primarily because Carl Crawford will start the season on the disabled list.  When Crawford comes back, he could end up being the odd man out.  McDonald, though a nice story, is a replacement level player who’s probably not worth a spot on the 25-man roster.

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.

5 Responses to “Cafardo Mailbag: My Eyes are Bleeding” Subscribe

  1. Walt in Maryland March 16, 2012 at 10:42 AM #

    Thanks for putting logic ahead of sentiment when it comes to retiring Tony C.'s number.

    I was a huge Conigliaro fan, and I'll never forget his Opening Day HR at Baltimore when he came back in 1969. A couple of weeks later, I was at Fenway when he faced Jack Hamilton for the first time since his beaning, and he ripped a single through the box (you could look it up).

    That being said, I'm all for setting a high bar when retiring numbers. The Red Sox should not be in the buisness of honoring players for what they "might" have accomplished, or even "likely would" have accomplished if injuries, etc. didn't get in the way.

    • JohnSilver March 17, 2012 at 2:08 AM #

      Sentiments exactly. I was a Tony C fan also and sure he would have probably for years have gone on to form a RH/LH combo with Yaz almost unmatched, but if they go and retire another number not in the HOF (like Pesky) it has to be someone who went and had a full, outstanding career, like Dwight Evans.

      Fans were talking of retiring Rice before he was elected and imagine it will come up again over the next player who has another Evans/ Tony C type career.

  2. Jeff Crystoff March 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM #

    The Olt and Profar question is only absurd because it's missing one thing: the Sox eating dollars. The non-absurd version of that question is: How much of Crawford's contract would Boston have to eat in order to trade him for Olt and Profar? I'd say probably 90%.

    Certainly this trade is absurd straight up. But would they really turn down trading two prospects for an in his prime player who could give you 5 WAR/year locked up for the next 6 years at 2 mil/year?

    • mattymatty March 16, 2012 at 8:21 PM #

      Actually, no. It's far more absurd if they eat none of Crawford's contract, but it's absurd either way. Forget Olt for a minute. The Rangers aren't trading their best prospect and probably the best shortstop prospect in baseball for a 30 year old left fielder who hit .255/.289/.405 last year. Then add in that Crawford is owed ~$120 million over the next six years. Then add Olt back in and wow. Just… just wow.

  3. Sam March 19, 2012 at 4:05 AM #

    I'm convinced that CHB is the greatest troll ever…