|TIM WAKEFIELD / TSN.CA|
It’s not a surprise. Mike Timlin, as reported, is back with Boston with a base salary of $2.89 million with additional incentives. Also, the Red Sox exercised the $4 million option on Tim Wakefield, ensuring that he will be a Red Sox for his 13th season (hopefully it’s not an unlucky year for him).
What’s next up? As we have covered (in “Twiddling Our Thumbs” and Zach in “Offseason Preview: Looking For A Direction“) … who knows? But an interesting development happened yesterday.
Aramis Ramirez has declined the final two years of his contract with the Chicago Cubs and filed for free agency. I do not think that Ramirez will go to Boston. I still believe he will be a Cub, but this just tosses another name in the ring, which may help take focus off other free agents, which is a good thing for us.
The next step to take in constructing the roster is to decide what to do on Keith Foulke. It’s pretty much a no-brainer that we will decline the $7.5 million option, but will Foulke pick up the $3.75 player option? All we’ve heard about Foulke says that he approaches baseball simply as a job and would like to make the most money possible. If so, he will pick up the option without a doubt, for he would not get that in a one-year contract on the free agent market, if not even a total of $3.75 across two years.
If Foulke is tired of Boston, tired of trying to return to the job, and tired of the media, he will leave. I’m not banking on it. What I’m banking on is the fact that Theo will be a determined man this winter to get back to what he succeeded most at – finding undervalued free agents. Theo has gone on the record as being less than pleased with the job he did this past year (and cited the Mirabelli/Meredith + Bard deal as an example) and that he had gotten away from finding undervalued free agents.
We could also trade Manny Ramirez, but that will take a backseat to the bullpen construction going on. Theo has consistently proven incapable of building a good bullpen. While I believe that a significant chunk of the effectiveness of the bullpen lies in the tactical maneuvering of the manager, the majority of the effectiveness of the bullpen relies on the construction of the bullpen. That’s Theo.
Theo should have at least three, if not four, years of bullpen construction, strategizing, and statistics to look back on and find out who succeeds in Boston, and why. Look at Mike Timlin. Look at Keith Foulke (2004). Look at Alan Embree (minus the 2005 implosion). Look at what didn’t work – Rudy Seanez, Bobby J. Jones, John Halama.
The fact that free agents are filing is not the true story of this period. The true story is in the resignings and the option declines/pick-ups. This is where the outlines of the progression of the offseason come into view. Now that the Red Sox have filled two additional spots on their 25-man roster, they can look at filling other roster spots.
As Chris C. said in an e-mail to me today, the Red Sox are channeling Bill Belichick. It looks as if we’re going to have to content ourselves with dreaming up our own scenarios and jumping on nuggets of information to fuel our hot stove. Mike Timlin, Tim Wakefield, and Aramis Ramirez will have to do for now.