Mr. Henry, What’s Going On Here?

November 24, 2014 · Posted in Hot Stove 

On August 25, 2012 everything changed for the Boston Red Sox when they jettisoned roughly a quarter billion dollars in payroll in the forms of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. According to Sox principal owner, John Henry, “We learned a lesson in ever-growing, long-term contracts with free agents.” Oh what a difference two years and a last place finish can make! According to multiple media reports, the Red Sox are putting the finishing touches on a 5 year, $90 million contract with Hanley Ramirez and a 5 year, $100 million deal with Pablo Sandoval. So much for lessons learned.

In the second half of 2014, Red Sox starting pitchers finished 2nd to last in ERA in the American League (4.84) and last in WAR (3.5). As of this writing, that is the staff that will open the 2015 campaign. Thus, it seems completely reasonable that signing an aging malcontent SS/3B and an overweight singles hitter completely solves this glaring problem. Not only does it fly in the face of the “new model” of overpaying for short term deals, it is difficult to see how these additions make the 2015 Boston Red Sox appreciably better than the disappointing 2014 squad.

What remains unclear is how these new signings will fit into an opening day lineup. It seems safe to assume that Sandoval and Xander Bogaerts will man the left side of the infield. Does this mean that Hanley Ramirez will find a spot somewhere in the outfield? The current 40 man roster already lists Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Allen Craig. Both Mookie Betts and Brock Holt, although lists as infielders, also logged significant innings in the outfield last season. The idea that any combination of the above without including both Betts and Bogaerts would lead to the acquisition of anything better than a number 3 starting pitcher in a trade seems fanciful. Dealing either of their two best prospects would be a colossal mistake.

If Ben Cherington and his minions value Pablo Sandoval at $20 million per year, how much is Jon Lester worth? $40 million per year? In the post steroid era, the rest of baseball believes that pitching and defense win. To date the 2015 Red Sox have neither. It’s going to be a long winter in Beantown and an even longer summer.

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