|Mark Teixeira – ccho|
As Thanksgiving approaches, and behind it baseball’s winter meetings, the rumors surrounding Mark Teixeira are flying fast and furious.
There have been no indications that anyone has presented “Tex” with an offer, but before all is said and done, the Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles figure to have gotten their piece in, in addition to a couple other surprise teams.
If Tony Massarotti and Randy Youngman are to be believed, it is only a matter of time before Tex is trying on a Boston Red Sox hat. In the Coco Crisp/Ramon Ramirez trade analysis, many commenters weighed in on the Teixeira issue. As has been made clear in the comments, I am not a proponent of signing Mark Teixeira, as talented as he is.
Here are my reasons why.
FIRST IS NOT THE ISSUE
The Red Sox have a few question marks heading into the 2009 season. First base is not one of them. MVP candidate Kevin Youkilis is ensconced in that position with third base belonging to Mike Lowell.
|Mike Lowell – Samara Pearlstein|
While signing Teixeira and trading Mike Lowell are possibilities, it would mean investing money in a position that we do not have foreseeable issues at for the next two years and perhaps beyond, if Lars Anderson develops into the hitter we all know he can be.
In today’s day and age, flexibility and a propensity for young players are valued. What better position are the Sox in, then, with Lowell and David Ortiz free agents after the 2010 season and Lars Anderson chomping at the bit to hit the majors? By then, Will Middlebrooks may even be ready to ascend.
The club also has young, cost-controllable Jed Lowrie for the next five years and Lowrie can play short, third and second. Right now, he has to be penciled in as the starting shortstop, but even if he doesn’t start the season at short, he will be a valuable utility infielder who can step in at third base in two years if needed.
Why throw eight to 10 years at Tex for over $20 million a year when a competitive team can be fielded in 2009 with Youkilis, Ortiz and Lowell? Adding Tex would undoubtedly boost the offense, but would it come at a sacrifice on defense? Right now, two Gold Glovers man the corners. I’m not so sure Youk would be categorized as a Gold Glove contender at third.
FIX THE OTHER PROBLEMS
With that in mind, there are better ways to upgrade the 2009 team without investing money in Teixeira.
|Rafael Furcal – dizzy-eyed|
The money could be used to invest in a veteran pitcher such as Derek Lowe, who the team seems to be interested in (another move I do not advocate) or to significantly bolster the shortstop position. This could become that much more of a pressing issue should the club decide to ship out some of its better young pitchers for a catcher such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Even though Rafael Furcal seems to have as his top two suitors the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, who’s to say the Red Sox can’t swoop in and sign Furcal? He is a far better player than the options the Sox have trotted out there these last few years.
You could even use the money supposedly burning a hole in the Sox’s pocket to eat Lugo’s contract — a sizeable chunk of it — and get a very good prospect in return.
Upgrade the team at other positions if money needs to be spent, not at positions that don’t need it.
One of the goals of the Red Sox is to get younger. While signing Teixeira would technically constitute getting younger as Mike Lowell would then be moved, Youkilis is entering his age 30 season and Tex will be there after 2009. Doesn’t seem like a radical move to get younger to me.
‘A GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE’
People have expressed concern that David Ortiz may be finished — much like Lowell was thought to be finished after 2005. Sorry, I’m not prepared to write off a hitter who has finished in the top five of MVP voting five straight years after one injury-marred season.
|David Ortiz – Samara Pearlstein|
If the club were to sign Teixeira and have Ortiz return to form, Lars Anderson is effectively blocked at first and DH, necessitating a trade. If Ortiz returns to form, there is no way he doesn’t resign with the Red Sox, so we would be losing a young slugger and… getting older.
Sure, Teixeira could be traded in the next few years should Lars press the issue and Ortiz return to form, but Scott Boras is highly likely to demand (and get) a no-trade clause. The Red Sox have shown a clear aversion to giving out no trade clauses. While they have constructed club policies in order to give Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jason Varitek that protection, they have been able to avoid writing one into a contract.
The premise for signing Teixeira, many people seem to believe, is predicated on the fact that they think David Ortiz is done and will walk as a free agent after 2010. Again, I’m not convinced, but let’s cede the point just for the sake of argument. Let’s say we already know definitively that Ortiz will walk after 2010. Would we still want to sign Teixeira?
Maybe. Maybe not. The Sox would temporarily get younger, but perhaps at the expense of defense and certainly at the expense of losing a starting-caliber player (Lowell) with no guarantees we get a similar caliber player back.
Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to hold off on the Ortiz issue until after 2009 or 2010? If Ortiz needs to walk after 2010, why can’t we sign the slugger on the market then, as opposed to now?
The best slugger on the market after 2010?
Mark Teixeira is a great player, and should the Red Sox feel it in their best interest to sign him, I am sure I will enjoy his production over the next decade. I just don’t think we should sign him.