The Red Sox are where they are. Six and a half games out of first place, with the division seemingly wrapped up, at least according to the stat-heads. And I myself are included in those “stat-heads.”
No, I haven’t given up completely. Not on the division–even though it’s a long-shot now. But I do know where the Red Sox stand. And that is atop the Wild Card standings. Sure, they aren’t playing well. And sure, good teams are beating them. But it could be much, much worse, you know, like actually being out of the playoffs currently.
One can point to one move, or non-move, that is the reason the Red Sox are so far out of the division. And that is the Yankees acquisition, via free agency, of Mark Teixeira. Had the Red Sox signed him, rather than the Yankees, it could very well have made up the difference. Maybe the two teams are tied right now, rather than 6+ games apart. Tex is currently raking at a clip of .284/.382/.557. And he’s stellar with the glove as always. His ‘WAR’ is 3.6 (3.6 wins over a replacement player).
Basically, adding Tex would have given the Red Sox the best corner infielders in the game.
But we didn’t add Tex. Instead, we decided upon saving tons of money–especially some probable dead money at the back end of Tex’s contract. And the organization felt it was best to put their stock in the players on the farm, rather than expensive veterans. Lars Anderson being the main reason why Tex wasn’t signed, as far as “players on the farm” goes.
So the Yankees ended up with Teixeira and it looks really good in the short term. But what about in 2011? How will it look then? What if Anderson is a 3-4 ‘WAR’ player at 1/23rd the price? The short term can be deceiving, my friends.
Of course, there is the other side of the spectrum. What if Anderson never pans out? What if he ends up a 1 ‘WAR’ player, defensively challenged, and lacking power. Then the Tex inking will be emphasized even more than it is now.
But I like to approach talented players (Anderson) with optimism.
Since Tex was a “non-move” then it is only fair to address the Red Sox actual moves. And none of the Big Leaguers they brought in have done much. But I agree with the signings, even with the failures, or sub-par performances they have brought with them.
John Smoltz was recently designated for assignment. The experiment failed. But the main part of this was that Smoltz was signed to a one-year deal. The money lost kind of stinks. But the one year deal is most important. If the experiment fails–as it did–then simply move on. Throw another arm into the rotation. Smoltz was signed as depth, became a piece, then became expendable–based on poor performance. He is gone. Move on. But he won’t suck up a roster spot, and he won’t suck up potentially available funds down the road.
Taking a chance on the future Hall of Famer was worth a shot. it simply did not go as planned. And by “planned” I mean the glass half full viewing of what a plan could be.
Brad Penny has at least contributed positively at times. He hasn’t been good, or really even average as a whole. But at least he has been capable of appearing in the Major Leagues. The National League is better suited for him as he is incredibly fastball happy, and his command can lack at times. But as a fifth starter, well, I guess that 4.57 FIP could be much worse.
Another signing that I completely believed in at the time, and still do. Penny was a solid chance to take.
Rocco Baldelli was brought in as a fourth outfielder to play all three outfield positions when needed. His “fragility” made it unclear how often he could and would play. But having him with many built in days off would only help his situation. Baldelli hasn’t been a failure. He’s played decent enough off the bench, and although currently on the DL, he is valuable by being able to man center field, as well as the corner outfield slots. .261/.322/.441 is far from spectacular. But in only 121 plate appearances, any numbers are sort of suspect.
Again, for one year, Baldelli was well worth the chance taken. And at $500,000, it makes it even more worthwhile.
Short-term. Many fans think in the short term. But what the Red Sox have given themselves this season, is a chance to win now (a very real chance since they are currently leading the Wild Card race), and a chance to win in the future. Imagine if Lars Anderson does become that 3-4 ‘WAR’ player, and where that $22 million saved on Teixeira can be invested. It can be used to address multiple needs, rather than one short term “luxury” (don’t forget already having had Mike Lowell).
It can be used to bring in our future left fielder. It could be used to acquire a starter, a few relievers and maybe even an adequate position player.
6 and a half games is no fun. Trust me, I know. I have experienced the pain in this four game set as well as you have. But it isn’t about 2009. It is about 2009 through the future.
And last time I checked, this season has still been pretty good…