The Cafardo Mailbag: The Inmates Running the Asylum Edition

All hail the triumphant return of the Cafardo mailbag!

'Jacoby Ellsbury' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: you think the Tigers would be interested in trading Victor Martinez back to the Sox now that they have Prince Fielder to play first base? Would Victor Martinez be a good solution for Boston’s first baseman?

Doubtful.  The better question is, why would the Red Sox want to trade for Martinez?  While he had a successful season-and-a-half in Boston, they passed on him because they didn’t think he was worth a four year deal at $12.5M per season.  Why?  Because he turned into exactly what they thought he’d be:  a soon-to-be 34 year old former catcher turned designated hitter.  Even with his offensive skill set, he still probably won’t hit enough to justify his salary.  Especially now that we’re in this new age of relative austerity, I don’t see Cherington changing course on a player of diminishing skills coming off of a major knee injury.

Additionally, why would the Tigers trade him?  Even hurt, Martinez serves as a considerable upgrade over outgoing OF/DH Delmon Young who produced a disappointing .267/.296/.411 line.  Given the struggles the Tigers had in the 5-9 spots in the lineup last season, Martinez’s return to the lineup is more than welcomed.  To trade him, Dombrowski would have to receive a quality major league hitter in return, and that’s something the Red Sox can’t afford to provide.  As it currently stands, the Tigers are looking to add to their riches, not subtract.

I think it is safe to say that the Red Sox are rebuilding. Why won’t they consider bringing up pitchers Matt Barnes or Allen Webster to start the season? They can’t do any worse than last year’s rotation.

Rebuilding?  Let’s not use that word.  How about retooling?  It seems to fit better.  The Red Sox may not contend this season, but they’re certainly working to make the team competitive in 2013.

As for why the Red Sox aren’t considering promoting Barnes and/or Webster to the big show…  Well, for starters, it’s reckless.  Barnes, though he showed flashes of dominance in high-A ball, still has a lot to work on; especially with his secondary pitches.  Webster pitched pretty well in AA ball, but he has control issues as evidenced by his 4.2 BB/9 ratio.  He clearly needs some additional development in AAA before we can even consider him for the major league rotation.  Both pitchers have a lot of promise, but we need to let them develop fully before we throw them into the fire.  There’s no rational need to rush either pitcher.

I have great respect for you as a writer, but also someone who seems to always get it right with the Sox. My question is: name the three top choices the Sox would acquire if available.

That is very sweet of you to say.  My contempt for the general population of Red Sox Nation matches your respect for me.  I kid.  I kid.   To answer your question… Mike Napoli, Dan Haren, and Hiroki Kuroda.  Of course, their interest only exists if the price is right.

The Blue Jays must have been reading your paper’s article about being bold. Seems like they have jumped out way ahead of the Sox.

Bold is a good word to describe the Blue Jays’ move.  Opportunistic is another, but then again, how can you blame them?  The Jays had an opportunity to recreate their club in a single move, and they took it.  Even better yet?  The move was less costly than the Dodgers makeover this past August.  That counts for something.

Still, it’s not all rosy.  There are definitely some concerns.  Josh Johnson is a high-end, yet oft-injured, pitcher who’s cracked 200 innings just once in his career.  If he’s healthy, he’s an ace quality pitcher.  If not, he’ll be incredibly frustrating.  Plus, it’ll be interesting to see if his strikeout rate bounces back in the American League.  Mark Buehrle, though one of the most consistent starters in the game, is a 34 year old pitcher who lives and dies on allowing contact.  At some point, the black magic he’s spinning will stop working…or at the very least become less effective.  Ideally, he’s best used as a 3 or 4 starter than a 2.  Reyes is interesting because he’s a 30 year old shortstop who has above average hitting skills, but below average fielding skills.  In all likelihood, he’ll need to be moved off of the keystone position in a season or two, which will hinder his overall value.

Looking at the trade objectively, it looks great in the short-term.  The Blue Jays did what they had to do to be considered serious contende1rs in a division of titans.  They added key pieces, and addressed their material weaknesses.  In the long-term, they added a few players on the wrong side of 30 (and in some cases, oft-injured) who have seriously backloaded contracts.  The possibility this trade could blow up in their face is pretty real, even if it’s not imminent.

Opinion If the Sox were already talking to the Marlins about players and the fire sale in Miami is still on, could right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and pitcher Ricky Nolasco be considerations for the Sox?

Could they be in talks for those players?  Sure.  Nolasco seems like a much better bet to have been involved in serious trade talks than Stanton.  First of all, Nolasco is due to make $11.5M next year, and he’s considered to have been a major disappointment for the Marlins.  His peripherals (as evidenced by his FIP) indicated he’s a much better pitcher than his ERA has shown.  That said, he’s only been able to prove this fact once in 2008, the only season he posted an ERA below 4.48.

Could he become a better pitcher with another club?  Possibly, but I doubt he’d suddenly turn into that pitcher while pitching half of his games at Fenway Park and in the big, bad AL East.  Then again, some pitchers have great years against all odds and statistical measures.  Still, considering his falling strikeout rate and homer happy tendencies, a trade to the Red Sox is likely not advantageous to either party.

What about Stanton?  The Marlins have no real reason to trade him at this point.  He’s not eligible for arbitration until the 2014 season, and the Marlins can (and likely will) set his salary at the league minimum for 2013.  Still, it’s something the Red Sox should explore.  The cost will be considerable, but he’s one of the few players that would be worth emptying the farm system for.  We’re talking at least Xander Bogearts, Matt Barnes, Garin Cecchini, and probably a couple of lesser prospects.  For a 22 year old power hitter with solid defensive talents, he’s worth it–if they can pry him away.

What’s your assessment of Ben Cherington’s abilities to build the “next great Red Sox team?” Based upon his trades so far, how can Red Sox have faith in him (nothing in return for Youk? Melancon and Bailey gave nothing, the fire sale was the sign of desperation).

Nick took this one at a time, and I think that’s a great way to do it.

Youk – What did you expect to get back for an aging, oft-injured corner infielder with declining skills and only an option year left on his contract? As a three month rental, that return was about as good as you could have expected.

Melancon – Sure, he struggled at times, but that’s what happens with most non-elite relievers.  What the Red Sox gave up was a surplus pitcher who probably won’t be anything more than a league average relief pitcher in Kyle Weiland, and an oft-injured, inconsistent shortstop in Jed Lowrie.  While I don’t doubt Lowrie’s skill, I feel like Red Sox Nation grossly overvalues him.  He’s a nice player, but he’s not special.  Furthermore, all indications show that Melancon is better than he showed this season.

Bailey – Well, it’s hard to perform when you have a torn UCL in your pitching wrist.  Still, it stung to see Josh Reddick play so well in Oakland.  That said though, no one (and I mean no one) saw that coming.  His defense was superb, and his power exploded while playing half of his games in a pitcher’s paradise.  The big question is this:  Can he do it again?  The simple answer is yes, but I’m not sure it’s terribly likely.  Reddick is impatient, and has a ton of holes in his swing.  The league started to figure him out in the second half, and he’ll need to make some serious adjustments if he’s going to repeat his 2012 campaign.

The Fire Sale – What did you expect the Red Sox to do?  Anytime a new GM can clear $270M in long-term salaries off of the books and start over, you have to do it.  They received two solid pitching prospects and a potential 1B/OF/DH in return.  Sure, it sucked to give up Adrian Gonzalez, but it was the only way he could pawn off Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford.  The club was hamstrung by payroll inflexibility.  Now, Cherington has the opportunity to paint his own canvas.

Why should I care? Why should I pay attention in 2013? Why should I spend the money for the NESN package? Why should I buy a ticket at Fenway? Why should any sucker if this team won’t even reinvest money shed in the Dodgers deal on the short term to make this team a contender? When will this ownership group sell so I can start caring again?

Why should you care?  It’s simple.  YOU’RE A FAN!  Or at least you claim to be a fan.  Look, I don’t like making distinctions between “types” of fans, but real fans stick with the team even during the dark time.  If you really care about the Red Sox, you’ll suffer along with them.  Give them a chance to retool.  Spending a ton of money doesn’t solve anything.  It certainly hasn’t over the last few years.

Maybe it’s time for another Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett trade. Is there any chance that the Rays would do a blockbuster deal with the Sox? The Rays have a need for position players who can hit and who are far from free agency. Marketing lefty ace David Price would give them the greatest return in a deal and he’s exactly what the Sox need to bolster the rotation and to be relevant again.Xander Bogaerts would have to be the prize of the Red Sox bait, and since he won’t be ready to help the Rays until late in the season at the very earliest, the Sox would probably have to part with Jacoby Ellsbury, who is expected to play out of his mind in his “walk” year, as well. Ryan Lavarnway would at last provide the Rays with a catcher who can hit, and the Rays could choose between Jerry Sands or Bryce Brentz. They’re scouring annually for bullpen help and the Sox could throw Alfredo Aceves or Mark Melanson into the deal. If the Sox don’t think they’re getting enough in return, they could ask for one of the Rays many minor league pitching prospects. I think there’s a matchup there. All that it takes to pull it off is some imagination and audacity. Your thoughts?

Perhaps, but if they do one of these types of deals, it’ll be for a guy like Giancarlo Stanton.  Additionally, as good as David Price is, I can’t imagine the Rays being willing to trade him within the division.  The price for obtaining him would be significantly higher for an AL East trading partner than anyone else.  In fact, it’d be so high, it’s hard to imagine it being worth the cost.  Throwing Jacoby Ellsbury into the mix likely won’t help matters as he’d be a one year rental.  With Scott Boras as his agent, the Rays probably wouldn’t be able to pony up the dough to keep him on the roster.

What do you think about the likelihood – and the wisdom – of the Sox acquiring Ike Davis to plug the hole at first base?

The rumor entering the offseason was that he was trade bait.  Now, not so much.  Apparently, the Mets want to rebuild their roster with power hitters.  Davis fits that bill, so it seems unlikely they’d move him without either a sizeable package or a poison pill–like Johan Santana.

Do you feel that the Evil Empire is today where the Red Sox were in 2011, i.e. with aging players, bloated long term salaries, and developing holes in the pitching staff? What is their strategy for the offseason and do you think they can continue to remain atop of the AL East in the next couple years?

They aren’t far off, but I don’t think they’re in the danger zone yet.  Brian Cashman is a very smart GM, and he’s excellent at maximizing his wealth of resources.  If anyone can turn the Yankees fortunes around, it’s him.  That said, they are in need of some restructuring.  I doubt there’s a team out there willing to take the Alex Rodriguez contract off of their hands like the Angels were with Vernon Wells a couple of years ago.  On top of that, they have a ton of salary committed in the short term, and those deals will become a bigger problem if the Yankees are really as committed to getting under the $189M luxury tax for 2014 as they claim to be.

To put it simply, the Yankees are very much built for the short term.  Without some changes, they very well could turn into the 2011 Sox.  Still, I think that’s more of a 2014 problem than a 2013 problem.

Do you think Mauro Gomez deserves a chance to be the number one first baseman?

Nope.  He’s a post prospect who has shown little reason to assume he’s capable of being a starting first baseman in the majors.  He could be a useful bat off of the bench, though.

Do you think the Red Sox will sign Mike Napoli?

Yes.  I think he’d be a solid player for the Red Sox.  I do have concerns about how his skills will regress as he ages, but he’s a good fit for the next 2-3 years years.

With the Sox coming off a 93-loss season, should ANY of their prospects be considered untouchable?

No prospect should ever be untouchable.  That said, they shouldn’t be looking to deal prospects unless it’s the right deal for the right player.

Pedro Ciriaco demonstrated last summer that he can be a regular in the infield…He can hit/run/field…Why is it that no one seems to consider him for shorstop and why is it that Iglasias (good field/no hit) is everyone’s choice?

Most seem to think Ciriacio is best suited to be a utility player, and I agree.  He hit well last year, but I see that being his ceiling rather than his performance baseline.  Iglesias is the favorite to start because of his potential, especially on defense.  He was highly touted, has an elite skill set, and was signed to an expensive guaranteed contract.  All of these things give him the edge.  While it may be unfair, there’s a certain level of bias that exists with players who are considered prospects and players who aren’t.  Ciriacio didn’t start producing until well after his prospect status had dimmed.  It’s natural for people to think this may be a fluke.


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.

2 Responses to “The Cafardo Mailbag: The Inmates Running the Asylum Edition” Subscribe

  1. Steve November 16, 2012 at 4:28 PM #


  2. Gerry November 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM #

    Good one. What I don't get is that because of their age and late blooms neither Ciriaco nor Gomez get any respect at all for the talent they have shown. Ciriaco's offense came back to earth after some remarkable peeformances, but we don't know yet if he can adjust to pitchers who adjusted to him. Given his positional utiltity and ability to run the bases well and steal a bunch, he would be terrific off the bench in regular pinch running roles, and could be a solid backup at several positions. Yet, many see him as a non-tender candidate. He seems, despite his age, to have overall more to offer than players like deJesus or Valencia off the bench. And poor Gomez. Late arrival but what a debut, and his offense never came back to earth, at least not yet. But even if he rakes again in AAA and callups the scouting mindset will, as you say, never give him a real shot. Too bad. He might make an above average DH/1B type for many teams. Pardon the rant. This often incorrect baseball insider pre-judging dominates the game, and is incorrect just enoigh to be a pet peeve of mine.