Monday, October 22, 2012

Edwin Jackson, baseball vagabond

Edwin Jackson has had one of the more interesting baseball careers.  Given how many different teams he's played for in his 12 parts of seasons in the majors, he might choose a different adjective, though.

In the early to middle 2000s, Jackson was one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, topping out as Baseball America's #4 prospect in 2004, and was in the top 100 2003-2005.  He debuted as a 19 year old for the Dodgers in 2003, but never managed to crack their rotation in his other two seasons there, never accumulating 30 innings.  Thanks to an impressive amount of roster mismanagement, burning options in those years, the Dodgers needed to either put Jackson on their major league roster or lose him to waivers.  Instead, the Dodgers traded him for two mediocre relievers, Danys Baez and Lance Carter, and Jackson found himself headed to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who were still a baseball laughing stock.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

When one door closes...

another opens.

With the glut of outfielders the Diamonbacks had, Chris Young had been identified as a potential target for the Sox.  In theory, he could provide what they had hoped Mike Cameron would provide - good defense, a lot of walks, and a low, bbut tolerable average.  With the trade to the Oakland A's, Young is clearly off the market. However, it also means that the A's admittedly no longer have room on the roster for lefty masher Jonny Gomes.

Despite only accumulating 333 plate appearances, striking out in 30% of his plate appearances, and being a below average defensive player, Gomes managed to be a 2 win player last year, according to Fangraphs.  How did he do it?  Well, he absolutely crushes left handed pitchers, putting up a .974 OPS last year and a .904 OPS from 2009-2011.  Against righties, well, it is best if he doesn't face them; a .700 OPS is pretty rough for a corner outfielder, and Gomes has a reputation as a butcher in the outfield.  

So how could the Red Sox use him?  With a rather large vacancy (at least salary wise) in left field, the Red Sox could sign Gomes to play left field against lefties and keep Ross in right.  Against righties, the Sox could stick with Ryan Sweeney in right and play Cody Ross in left.  Alternatively, they could dip into the free agent market and grab a big name, but declining player in Ichiro Suzuki.  A left handed hitter, Ichiro could provide elite defense in right, plus a cannon for an arm, both massive assets in the spacious right field of Fenway. His power is almost completely gone, with his slight power resurgence being completely a product of the Yankee Stadium short porch, but with a high batting average, good speed, and the ability to play center if Ellsbury gets injured, Ichiro could be a great fit for the Sox, too.  

Put Gomes in left and Ross in right against right handers, and Ichiro in right and Ross in left against lefties, and you've got a nice platoon that hides the major weaknesses of Gomes and Ichiro, while emphasizing their strengths.  Whether Ichiro is willing to leave New York is another question entirely, but if he is, he could be a significant contributor.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kicking the tires on: First base options

The Red Sox have a massive, and rather unexpected, hole at first base following the Adrian Gonzalez trade.  In one of the worst free agent years in recent memory, the Red Sox won't have much luck nabbing a big bat to instantly fill Gonzalez's shoes, but there are some interesting options.

The traditional first baseman market is a bit of a disaster.  Lance Berkman, who was expected to be the best option coming in to the offseason, had a season derailed by chronic knee injuries and may even retire.  Former top prospect Adam Laroche broke out at age 32 and now will have his option picked up by the Nationals.  I think we're all already seen enough of James Loney, although if nothing else comes together, he could be a one year fill in.  Carlos Lee had his second terrible season in three years, and has a reputation for being a clubhouse disaster.  And Carlos Pena had his strikeout rate move north of 30% and his average drop below .200 again, all while hitting a six year low in home runs.  Slim pickings indeed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One man’s attempt to fix the Red Sox

The Red Sox have an awful lot of work to do this offseason. They’re already on the right path thanks to the Bobby Valentine firing; no it wasn’t all his fault, but a good portion of it sure was. Here are some ideas that I think would put the Red Sox back on the path to being a successful franchise.

Step 1. Purge the Malcontents. No, we don’t need to exile them to Siberia, but maybe a baseball Siberia like Houston would be nice. Vincente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves were in the news far too often for all the wrong reasons. The Red Sox bullpen is actually quite deep, with potentially excellent relievers like Junichi Tazawa, Clayton Mortenson, Rich Hill, and Andrew Miller all splitting time between Pawtucket and Boston. Padilla is a free agent at the end of the year, so they just need to let him walk. Alfredo Aceves is entering his second arbitration year, so he is under team control for two years, so they should be able to trade him for a low level lottery ticket, like the Manny Delcarmen/Chris Balcom-Miller trade with the Rockies a couple years ago, OR…