For weeks now, I have been adamantly against the Sox going after Mark Teixiera. I realize that we are now, technically, "the Yankees" because we throw around a ton of money for players and we are literally doing anything humanly possible to gain revenue (Monster seats, membership into Red Sox Nation, blasphemous jersey changes...I'm not too hot about them, but I'm not in a bitter rage like most people are), but if the Sox were to sign Tex, that would put them over the top in being the Yankees. This is a big crossroads for the Henry/Lucchino/Werner ownership. If they were to approve this deal, then that's it. No more can we sit back and laugh while the Yankees go out and spend ludacrous money that likely will end up causing more problems than anything (I'm pretty sure Bernie Williams is on the books until like 2012), because it would be the height of hypocracy. Sure, the Sox have dished out some heavy contracts for free agents recently (Renteria, Lugo, Drew), but they have not been on the free-rolling spending spree the Yankees always seem to pull off. So the Sox have been Yankee-like in some of the ways they've conducted business, but have been much more savvy in terms of signing players. Again, we spent a bunch of money on flops, but there is no way anyone can sit me down right now and tell me the Sox are even on the same level in terms of spending on players that the Yankees have or will do for that matter.
The reason for my little semi-rant there is that John Henry has come out and said the Sox are "not going to be a factor" for Teixiera. Now, I was really stoked about this, because, again, I think we officially become the Yankees if we sign this guy, but then I thought of the possibility that Henry is simply using this tactic of speaking out to the national media to call Scott Boras' bluff. They did the same thing with Johnny Damon, only they actually wanted to keep him, and he walked away. Seriously, a first baseman is the last thing this team needs, I don't care how good this guy is. If the Sox have concerns about Mike Lowell, there are other ways to go. What about Adam Dunn (I know he's an outfielder now, but once upon a time, he played first...much like Youk played third once upon a time and would be moving there if the Sox got Tex)? Here's a guy who may not fit the mold in terms of sabermetrics and all that, but he does swing a pretty heavy bat. In an era where the amount of home runs has declined, Dunn has stayed steady, hitting 40 or more in each of the last five years, and hitting exactly 40 four years in a row. The one negative you could possibly have on Dunn playing in Boston is the deep fence out in right field at Fenway...but I don't even think that will be a factor. This isn't a guy who hits 350 foot homers. When he gets into one, it goes. Ultimately, I think the Yankees will get him, and here's why: The Yankees entered the bidding stages for Teixiera hoping that they would be able to drive the price up on Boston, which they did. Then, they would pull out, hope Tex lands somewhere in the NL or in Anaheim, and then go after Dunn. Conversely, if the new Yankee Stadium has any bit near the porch in right that the old one did, Dunn could get close to 50, especially considering he would probably have A-Rod hitting behind him. That, and the Yankees getting Manny are my two fears right now. From the first two moves they've made, it doesn't appear like they are coming to their senses yet, and I hope it remains that way. I'm not saying that it's a top priority to get Dunn, but if they are so concerned about Mike Lowell and perhaps trying to get themselves ready for life without him in the lineup, Dunn makes way more sense. You can get him, right now, for four years, $44 million. That's four years and $140 million less than Tex will be getting...I mean doesn't that make more sense? I know Dunn is not the same all-around player that Teixiera is, but we're talking about $140 million that they are saving. In terms of long-term planning, they are going to need that money. They are discussing a deal with Youkilis, Papelbon is going to continue to go year to year, and that price is only going to go up, plus you have Ellsbury, Lester, and Lowrie down the road. Also, let's not forget that Beckett has a club option for 2010, and that Jason Bay will be a free agent, meaning they're going to either re-sign him, or look elsewhere (Matt Holliday). We have already seen what locking a guy into a $20 million contract will do. This regime has made it a practice to not repeat the same mistakes twice.
Talking about 2010 has made me do a little research. I know, we haven't even gotten into the year 2009, let alone play 162 games. But, I think it's interesting to note that if the Sox position themselves right this year, they could be able to bank in on the Yankees being tied up in tons of money for a long, long time. Here are some things that could conceivably happen:
- Again, Matt Holliday will be a free agent in 2010. Oakland was able to get such a good deal for him because, basically, he's a rental player for the '09 season. The Sox have been sky high on Holliday for seemingly forever, and you know how they get when they see a player and want to land him...they usually follow through with it. It will be interesting to see how Jason Bay does this year too. You know, if he puts up the kind of numbers he is capable of (.300/30/100/.380 OBP/.525 SLG), then I don't know if you would want to let him go. He also hit .341 in his first postseason. I mean that's pretty solid. I think right now, I'm higher on Bay than Holliday strictly because Bay is here, and by '10, he would have had a year and a half in Boston. You cannot undervalue the on-the-job experience that Bay is getting right now at Fenway. He's going to be familiar with the wall, he'll know the dimensions of the park and what kind of strategies to try and execute in different scenarios. Also, he's fitting in already, and prying away at the substance of a winning team and changing the chemistry is not always a good thing.
- Victor Martinez has a club option for 2010 at $7 million. While it seems highly likely that the Indians will execute this option, it does bring up the fact that the Tribe, most likely, won't be competing again this year, which is when you have to ask yourself if Martinez would be available around the deadline. He will be 30 at the start of the season, he's a switch hitter who hits for average...it seems like a pretty good fit. The only concern would have to be his surgically-repaired shoulder. He had the procedure done during the '08 season, and seemed to be fairly true to form upon his return. There is so much concern about the backstop this year, and rightfully so. The Sox are essentially the only team in the running for Varitek, so it's going to be one of those things where he can either sign with the team he's played for the bulk of his career, or continue to hold out and wait for a team to inexplicably throw out the fact that he'll be 37 to start the year and his offensive numbers have been declining for five years. I think 'Tek is kind of surprised how little interest he is getting considering he's the captain of the Sox, he's won two titles, and caught four no-hitters. Ultimately, I think he is going to have to swallow his pride and sign a one-year deal to stay in Boston. Still, with Martinez being dangled out there, it could be interesting to see if the Sox could possibly scratch the Varitek signing all together, and go after Martinez in May when perhaps Cleveland will be struggling. I mean that's a conceivable thing to happen. The Tribe traded Sabathia well before the deadline, and with most of the contenders locked into catching (Philly is the only team I can think of right now who is not), the Sox may be able to get him on the cheap.
- The Sox may also want to keep some cash for two potential free agents: Erik Bedard and Justin Duchscherer. Bedard has definitely had a tough go of it in Seattle, and he is coming off of season-ending shoulder surgery, but he's only logged 739 innings over the course of five seasons (147.8 per season), and his throwing schedule is right on schedule, so he should be all set for the start of the year. Of course, who knows what can happen then. Duchscherer is another intriguing guy because of his breakout performance last year where he was right around the league leaders in ERA all season long (finished with a 2.54). He is at the point in his career where he cannot demand ace-like money. True, the pitching market will not have the big names in it next year, but still, this is a guy who still hasn't reached his prime yet, and has already shown extended signs of brilliance. He's like Josh Beckett was when he was at Florida minus the postseason success. Even if these guys get moved during the season, which is more than likely to happen given the two teams involved (Seattle and Oakland), they will likely be rental players and will hit the market after the season anyway. I mention this because it doesn't appear as though the Sox are going after any pitching this year, and Tim Wakefield, while still being the man, is getting old despite what his tan would make you believe. Wake may be hanging it up soon, and if the Justin Masterson move from the bullpen to the rotation doesn't work, you will have two spots open. Presumably, one will be taken by Clay Buchholz because the Sox are vehemently shooting down everyone's request to have him involved in any kind of deal, which leaves one other opening if they think Masterson would be better suited for the bullpen (which I do...for now). If you can lock up Duchscherer for a five year deal somewhere in the $35-40 million range, there would be an incredibly good, young nucleus of starting pitching, and the Sox would not be getting reamed in terms of dollars. I can't see Beckett going anywhere. His option will get picked up for 2010, and then I see them working out some kind of extension in the mean time. So, a Beckett, Dice-K, Lester, Duchscherer, Buchholz rotation doesn't sound all that bad. They will, however, have to find someone who can catch these guys...and soon.