Since the Boston Red Sox traded pitcher Franklin Morales to the Colorado Rockies for utility infielder Jonathan Herrera, things have been pretty quiet. The Red Sox have been steadfast in their patient approach to the offseason, staying away from blockbuster targets (Matt Kemp, etc.), as well as holding the line on waiting out their remaining free agent, Stephen Drew.
But the last week has been an important week for the Red Sox, make no mistake. Here’s a quick rundown:
The Yankees Sign Masahiro Tanaka
This section could also be named “Red Sox Don’t Go After Masahiro Tanaka” or “Ben Cherington Watches Brian Cashman Turn Into the Balding 50 Year Old at a Strip Club.”
I like Tanaka. I’ve watched the same highlight videos as everyone else, and yes, that splitter is nasty. But 7 years, 175 mil? Really? For a Japanese pitcher who’s thrown more innings through age 24 than any pitcher has in the MLB since Frank Tanana in the seventies?
I get it. The Yankees don’t have a strong farm system to wait on. Hiroki Kuroda is about to get his AARP magazine subscription and CC Sabathia has been shockingly ineffective. They were looking at their AL East opponents and realized that they were on the outs, and figured, screw the luxury tax, let’s go all in. And they have gone all in. Half a billion on Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and now Tanaka.
As a Red Sox fan, I’m fine with the Yankees getting Tanaka. Partially because I want to see Tanaka in action, and in the AL East we’ll see a whole lot of him. But also, because he won’t have to play for Boston. While on the Dice-K/Darvish spectrum he’s probably closer to Yu, the Red Sox didn’t need to have to take that chance, especially with how expertly they’ve toed the luxury tax line, and how promising their pitching prospects look.
The Tanaka signing is a definite win for the Yankees in the short term. But the Sox made the right move in doing nothing. But don’t feel like they didn’t get into any free agent action because…..
The Red Sox Sign Grady Sizemore
Boom! Pow! Bam! Shazam!
Benny C. does it again. The Red Sox needed a backup centerfielder to protect JBJ, and they made the perfect low-risk/high-reward move in picking up Sizemore. The 31-year-old, who will be signed for $750,000, with up to $5 million in incentives, hasn’t played since the end of the 2011 season. He’s dealt with a series of injuries since 2009 that derailed his career.
Now, even if the Red Sox only get the Grady Sizemore we’ve seen since ’09, they’ll have a back-up centerfielder with a .234/.314./.413 line. Frankly, that’s not shabby. But, if by any chance Sizemore has made recovery in his time away from baseball, and as he won’t have any pressure on him to deliver, there’s still the possibility that he can be the .281/.372/.496 hitter from 2005-2008, who hit 107 home runs and stole 115 bases.
My guess? He’ll end up somewhere in the middle, which is perfect. This is what they call a win-win. The Red Sox get their back up centerfielder, taking a lot of pressure off of JBJ without having to move Victorino from right. Sizemore gets a second chance on a World Series contender, in a low pressure situation, and in a clubhouse where he’ll be welcomed with open arms. Even if his injuries prevent him from progressing past spring training, the Red Sox barely gave up anything for him.
Jon Lester Is The Best
Lester: “I want to win. If it means taking a Pedroia deal where you stay for less money to be happy and win every year, let’s do it” #RedSox
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) January 23, 2014
If you’re like me, you followed the Clayton Kershaw proceedings with both sick fascination but also immense dread. With Kershaw, and lesser pitchers like Ervin Santana and the like, looking at the maxiest-of-max deals, Jon Lester’s upcoming free agent status was looming over this season like your drunk uncle wanting to go water-skiing on a family vacation: you just want to ignore it and enjoy everything, but you know things are going to go bad.
Well, today Jon Lester spoke up on the matter, proclaiming that he wanted to “be here ‘til they rip this jersey off my back” and was absolutely open to taking a hometown discount in a contract extension. Now, obviously “discount” doesn’t exactly mean he’ll be taking a minimum salary, but it does mean that A) the Sox will get a first crack at retaining Lester and that B) he’s open to finding a middle ground that’s lower than his market value (which would be pretty high, if not Kershaw high).
This once again proves how valuable the Boston clubhouse chemistry truly is and that Jon Lester, who pitched Game 7 in the 2007 World Series, two years after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and who dominated this past postseason, is one helluva class act. Here’s hoping that he and the Sox brass can come to terms quickly and painlessly.
Speaking of the clubhouse…
Musical theater pun!
So the beards had already started to leave us, David Ortiz and Shane Victorino shaving theirs for charity. But Jonny Gomes? Wooly Willy himself?
At a town hall meeting at Northeastern University, Gomes declared that the beards would be going, saying that this next season the team will start off (relatively) clean-shaven. Per Nick O’Malley at MassLive, Gomes said, “The baseball season is not like a cookie cutter,” he said. “You can’t win last year, I mean, it’s a clean slate, you know.”
As frightening as it will be to see a clean-shaven Jonny Gomes, the whole tabula rasa thing is the right way to go. While my money is on the beards being back by October, the team shouldn’t live in their glorious past.
Of course, not everyone was pleased.
Whoaaa Saaaaay what?! RT @GordonEdes: Gomes: The beards are coming off
— Mike Napoli (@MikeNapoli25) January 22, 2014
As always you can reach me @isportsPeters on Twitter, or send me questions/opinions/various stuff at firstname.lastname@example.org. With the NFL Draft and Spring Training rapidly approaching, and Tankapalooza fully under way, be sure to check back for more at iSportsWeb!