Have The Red Sox Done Enough?
So the trend continues. With the Sox winning another championship, the Yankees have once again dug deep into the depths of the Steinbrenner wallet to sign any and every possible big name free agent. The Bronx Bombers have spent $471 million on the likes of McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran, Roberts, Johnson, Kuroda, and Tanaka. The Yanks have already surpassed the $189 million luxury tax but don't expect them stop now.
Rumors around the league are that New York is seriously interested in free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. I think I speculated about this at the beginning of free agency. It makes sense for the Yankees. Drew would give New York a sure handed shortstop who gives them real support for the aging captain Derek Jeter. Jeter is now 39 and coming off of an injury riddled season and would be best utilized as a DH for this Yankee team. Since money isn't an issue, this move would make sense. The one thing I don't understand is why they didn't go after a guy like Balfour or Rodney to close games? They are pretty thin back there and haven't really done anything to address it.
But what about us? What about the Red Sox? Well, to me at least it seems that the free agent period has come and gone. They let Ellsbury and Salty walk, signed AJ Pierzynski, re-signed Napoli and made a move last night on Grady Sizemore. Sizemore signed a one year $750 thousand deal with incentives that could inflate the contract to as much as $6 million. I'm not feeling so hot about this teams offseason right now. Yes, I understand that they have a bigger overall master scheme but their moves so far have been pretty underwhelming.
Let me rattle off some major concerns.
Top of the list is outfield depth. I don't mind letting Ellsbury walk but Im not too confident in Jackie Bradley's ability to produce for a full professional season. The Sizemore signing is a good idea but banking on a player who hasn't played since 2011 with a serious knee injury is risky to say the least. I wanted a sure thing out in center, maybe overpay for a big name on short years and work Bradley in that way. Its going to take a full spring training to evaluate Sizemore and determine his role on this team. Victorino's style of play makes it tough to believe that he will finish a full 162 game schedule without an injury. Then you have Gomes, Nava, and Carp to patrol left and potentially fill in out in right field whenever Victorino is out of the line up. There is aren't enough dependable bodies out there.
Next on my list is the left side of the infield. As currently constructed, Will Middlebrooks will be our third baseman and Xander Boegarts will be starting a short. This scares the hell out of me. Mainly Middlebrooks because he hasn't proven to be consistent enough at the plate or in the field to secure himself a starting job anywhere in the majors. I have less concern with Xander but relying on him up the middle could end up biting them in the long run. Xader's bat isn't an issue but there are concerns about his range and hands at this stage in his early career. This being said, the Sox need to sign Stephen Drew. Bring back Drew on another one year deal and keep Xander at third for now. I'll say it again, just look at Manny Machado and JJ Hardy in Baltimore. Everyone including Hardy knows that Machado is their shortstop of the future but its best for the team for him to develop at third. It allows them to compete and develop at the same time. Bottom line is the Red Sox need a player like Drew to provide stability so they can compete while players like Xander, Middlebrooks, and Bradley develop.
One more quick concern is behind the plate. Mainly from a age stand point. Pierzynski and Ross are both 37 and have a lot of tread on those tires. This is really a lesser concern but just sort of a back in the mind thought that could turn into a real problem. Yes you can show me AJ's career games played and stats but it has to be a conversation when both of your catchers are as old as they are.
The scariest aspect to these concerns are that they all take place up the middle. Catcher, shortstop, and center field tend to be the core to a solid baseball squad. Its not a good feeling to go into a season with real questions about each one of those positions. There is still some time but it going to come down to these players on the roster right now to perform and stay healthy. Can't help but have some serious questions and concerns at this point.