Post Season Happenings

While we are all still enjoying the afterglow of the Red Sox World Series win this year, we need to realize that there is next year as well and it can’t be shrugged of until next year when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in February.

There are a few major changes going on with the Red Sox, pardon the behind the curve information that is in these.

The following players have their contracts expire with the Red Sox:

Curt Schilling, Matt Clement, Mike Lowell, Mike Timlin, Bobby Kielty, Doug Mirabelli, Eric Gagne, Eric Hinske, Kevin Cash

On top of these guys there also a few who have ’08 club options which means the Red Sox can choose to keep them, or just release them into the wild while a buy-out of some amount, there are only 2 this year I am aware of, Wakefield and Tavarez, both of whom have had their options picked up by the Red Sox for the 2008 Season.

I am honestly happy about both of these pick ups, Wakefield is a workhorse who may be a bit off on some days with his pitching, but in his 13 years with the Red Sox he has been an overall effective pitcher, as well as a true team member willing to do whatever he has to do for the best of the team. Whether it is taking a seat on the bench and sitting out the World Series due to shoulder and back issues, or if it is walking out to the bullpen in the 14th inning to start warming up because we are almost out of pitchers, even if he did pitch the night before. He does whatever is needed.

As far as Tavarez goes, the man is a bit of a lunatic, but I like him. He has a great attitude and rarely seems down, no matter what is going on in the game. He is also a fairly versatile pitcher who can be long relief of a starter when need be, he is no staff ace, but he is a very servicable 5 starter for the club who can come up with big innings when he needs to if he comes in in relief – remember that 19 inning game against the White Sox in 2006 where he pitched 4 innings of 1 hit baseball only to have Seanez blow it is a couple of innings later? Yeah, he is a guy you want to have around in my opinion, also he is still relatively young, he may look like he is in his late 40’s, but he is really only 34 years old. Compares to Paps and Buchholz he is an old man, but he is young when you compare him to someone like Wakefield.

As far as the free agents go.

Curt Schilling has already re-signed with the Sox with a 1 year deal, so he is in for next year.

Matt Clement is, well, he is Matt Clement. I think he will go elsewhere, or else sign a rock bottom contract(2-3Million) with the Red Sox as long relief. He has not been the same since he got beaned by a line drive back at him in Tampa in July of ’05. Then he had the surgery on his shoulder last year, and only really threw for the first time in September just prior to the end of the season. I think that was mostly posturing to try to get something to negotiate with for a new contract with the Red Sox, or another team. I don’t see him signing anywhere close to a contract like the one he had with the Sox which paid him 9.5 million this year, even though he never threw a single pitch in a game or even spring training.

Mike Lowell, World Series MVP(not bad for a forced throw in for the Beckett trade), and all around like-able guy. He has so much bargaining power right now, and he knows it. I hope that he doesn’t get too greedy and he looks at things realistically. He is 34 years old, and while he has made a huge impact on the team, both on the field, as well as in the clubhouse, he is too high a risk for the Red Sox, or any team to sign for more than 3 years at 12-13million a year. I could see a team going for a 3 year guarantee, with a 4th year club option, or even a 5th year option, but no more than 3 guaranteed. I really do hope that the Red Sox and him are able to work out a deal that everyone is happy with. I think based on his personality, he may be willing to go for a 3 year deal for 30-34 million with a 4th year option for the Sox, only because he sees how much the fans like him, and how much he is appreciated by the fans. I hope I am right.

Mike Timlin and Eric Gagne, I don’t see either of them coming back to the Sox next year. Timlin has been good and essential to the World Series wins the Sox have had in 04 and 07, however his performance has been steadily dropping off. I like to refer to him as the King of Inherited Runners scoring, anytime I see him coming into the game with men on base, I just assume they will score before the end of the inning. Gagne, well, for lack of a better way to put it, he flat out sucked while on the Red Sox. He filed for FA, and is looking to be a closer somewhere. I wish him luck, he got his ring, but he is nowhere near the type of closer he was 4 or 5 years ago and was capable of 50+ saves and winning a Cy Young. Don’t let the door hitya where the good lord split ya Eric.

Then we have Cash and Mirabelli, the sox need to sign one of these guys. Why? Because of Tim Wakefield. We know Tek can’t catch him reliably, so we need someone who can, and it is one of these guys. Mirabelli has been Wake’s catcher for many years now, and Cash is used to other knucklers from down in Pawtucket. I think Mirabelli probably is a bit tired of playing second fiddle to Varitek, so that is why he went right to free agency, and I think Cash is tired of playing in the Minors so he is going to try to find a regular spot on an MLB team for playing time. Of these two guys, I think Cash is the better option, I think he has more potential for offense than Mirabelli, even though he was something miserable like 2/25 in August and September, I think it was mostly growing pains and lack of playing time. Time will tell if he can hit, but look what time did for Dustin Pedroia at the start of this season?

This now brings us to the last two, Bobby Kielty and Eric Hinske. I like both these guys, but the Sox need to sign one of them, they are great platoon players who can fill in at any time. They have decent bats and are capable of big hits when needed – who can forget what turned into the world series winning HR by Kielty? I think it is a tough call on which one, but both are cheap and unless the sox want to see what they can bring up from the farms, then we will see one of these guys.

As far as other free agents, I don’t see the Red Sox as part of the market this year for anyone. Starting pitching is solid, bullpen is pretty much solid, and all the positions except backup catcher will be taken care of once we(hopefully) sign Mike Lowell.

Trades are possible, and Coco Crisp may be on his way out, but that will likely be for a platoon player or some real good prospects if the Red Sox decide to bring up Ellsbury full time for centerfield next year.

Now the real long term question – Who will be the next big slugger for the Red Sox? We know Manny’s time is limited, and with Manny gone, it will open up Ortiz to a lot of walks. So who is the next big name to step up and into those shoes?

Only time will tell….


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