Organizational Meeting: Red Sox
Well folks, today you get off lucky, I'm not writing. For the Red Sox organizational meeting I have two bloggers answering questions. One is Ben Jacobs, who writes the fantastic Universal Baseball Blog Inc. He's a sportswriter for a Rochester newspaper, and his weekly fantasy football column always helps. The other is Jeff Kuhn, writer for The House that Dewey Built, a very Bostonian Blog. Both are worth checking out, of course, only after you read what they have to say here...
1. Theo Epstein has done some different things during his short tenure, but nothing comes close to the Manny Ramirez saga. Epstein has admitted the Ramirez contract was terrible, and that the Red Sox have little interest in retaining him. Is Manny tradeable? If they can't trade him, will this move backfire and play a negative role in making Manny part of the team?
Ben Jacobs- Manny is definitely tradeable. If Mo Vaughn and Mike Hampton got traded, then Manny can certainly get traded too. The real question is whether or not Manny is tradeable in a way that makes sense for the Red Sox. And I have a hard time seeing that. Basically, there are only two ways I could see the Red Sox trading Manny.
The first is if some team is willing to take Manny while not giving the Red Sox much in return if the Red Sox will eat a couple million dollars per year on Manny contract. I could see Epstein doing that to save most of the money Manny is owed, but I don't know why any team would want to do that. If they weren't willing to claim him and pay the entire contract, they probably aren't willing to trade for him and pay 90-percent of his contract.
The second way is if the Red Sox trade him for another team's bad contract. However, the only way I think Epstein would do that is if the other team's bad contract is much shorter, like two or three years instead of Manny's five years. I'm not sure what teams would be interested in doing that and I'm really not sure if the Red Sox have any interest in doing that. I think Epstein already said they're not going to take on another bad contract.
Also, the Red Sox are not going to pay a large portion of Manny's contract just to get rid of him. He is, after all, still a premier hitter. In fact, in my opinion, he's the third-best player in the majors when you only consider offensive contributions. The Rockies paid for Hampton not to pitch for them anymore because Hampton was terrible in Colorado. The Red Sox are not going to pay for Manny to be an All-Star somewhere else.
If Manny is still with Boston in 2004, and I think that's the most likely scenario, I don't foresee any problems. If anything, it may help the situation. Manny is a bit of a head case and he's very immature. He doesn't really want to be in Boston, but he signed a big contract so he's not really in a position to say he won't play there. He's put up excellent numbers in each of his first three years with the team despite frequent reports of unhappiness. He and his agent reportedly even initiated the process of Manny being placed on waivers when they said Manny wanted to play in New York. Obviously, the Red Sox can't trade Manny to the Yankees, so the Red Sox gave the Yankees the one possible option to acquire Manny. That the Yankees didn't go for it is not something Manny can hold against the Red Sox. Furthermore, if he complains during this season that he wants to play elsewhere, the Red Sox can tell him to be quiet because nobody else wants him at his salary. If he really wants to go, he can make the monetary concessions, not them. There's even a chance, just a small one though, that Ramirez will be motivated by 29 teams saying that he is not worth what he's being paid. So, I think Manny will be fine in Boston even after this.
Jeff Kuhn- I think Manny is tradable simply because he might be the best right handed hitter in baseball. Everyone who followed the saga knows that there is 5 years/$100 million left on the deal, and Manny makes $20 million this year. That isn't entirely accurate. $20 million of his deal is deferred with very little interest, which makes Manny's deal more palatable then ARod's or Giambi's. I honestly think he wasn't claimed because GM's think Theo is desperate to dump him, and they think they can talk him into paying some of the contract and taking a bad contract. I can see Jim Duquette saying give me Manny and $5 million a year and I guess I can part with Tom Glavine. I just hope if that happens, then Theo has the good sense to hang up. Manny isn't a vocal leader, and he seems to only care about hitting a baseball. I don't see this hurting the clubhouse any. If he sticks around, he'll be the meat in a Ortiz/Millar hugwich soon enough.
2. Rumors were flying that if someone claimed Ramirez, the Rangers would send Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox for a package containing Nomar Garciaparra. In New England, "Nomah" is everyone's favorite player. Could Epstein possibly trade Garciaparra or let him walk; is Nomar supposed to be a career Red Sox?
BJ- New England loves Nomar with a passion and would definitely be very upset if he does not finish his career with the Red Sox. However, Epstein doesn't really seem to care what New England thinks, which is a good thing for the Red Sox. Most fans are pretty irrational most of the time, and you definitely don't want to make your decisions based solely on what they think is best.
That doesn't mean I think the Red Sox should definitely get rid of Nomar, however. If he's willing to sign a reasonable contract extension (maybe four years at around $12 million per year), I would certainly like to keep him in Boston. He's probably never going to be the hitter he was before hurting his wrist, but he's still one of the best shortstops in baseball. However, if the Red Sox get the sense that Nomar doesn't really want to sign an extension and he would rather go play in California in 2005, I wouldn't be afraid to make a bold move.
I would consider trading Nomar for prospects and trying to sign Miguel Tejada. Tejada didn't deserve to win the MVP award in 2002, but he is an excellent player. He's probably better than Nomar defensively, and he's not that much worse offensively. The problem with that plan is that if you don't get Tejada, your next option is to sign Rich Aurilia, who would be a significant downgrade from Nomar.
Also, along the same lines as trading Nomar and signing Tejada, I would seriously consider trading Johnny Damon for prospects and trying to sign Mike Cameron. Cameron is probably a little bit better than Damon defensively and he could at least match Damon's numbers offensively if he was playing half of his games in Fenway rather than SafeCo. Unfortunately, this plan has the same problem as the Nomar plan. If you miss out on Cameron, your next option is Kenny Lofton, who would be a significant downgrade from Damon.
JKThe days of "career" players are all but over, with a nod to Biggio, Larkin, Bagwell, and Frank Thomas. I think there would have been some serious backlash if Nomar was traded for a guy that is perceived as having destroyed baseball's financial structure. I think eventually, Nomar will be allowed to walk, and if the Angels, Padres, Astros or Dodgers don't bite, the Sox will resign him. The Astros will be the wild card because of the Mia factor.
3. What does a good GM do with Pedro? He is probably the best "first 100 pitches" pitcher I've ever seen pitch, but he really can't go beyond that these days. He is eating 17.5 million next season, and will be bickering the whole time about a contract extension. Really, what do you do with Pedro?
BJ- The Pedro Martinez decision is the most cut-and-dry decision the team has, in my opinion. You keep him on the team to pitch for 2004, you offer him arbitration at the end of the season and you collect draft picks when another team signs him.
Basically, you can't trade Pedro because he has a big contract with just one year left on it and you'll never get equal value for that deal. So, you have to keep him for next season and hope that he can stay healthy enough to make his 29 or 30 starts and give you around 180-190 innings with a very good ERA. If he does that, then the $17.5 million is being spent reasonably well.
However, under no circumstances do you offer Pedro a contract extension, unless it's a short and relatively cheap one that he will turn down anyway. Pedro is a very proud man and he's going to want a long contract worth a lot of money. He'll clamor about respect and how a team should be willing to give him a long contract because he's a great pitcher and they don't want him pitching against them. There are certain truths about Pedro, however.
First, he's very prone to injury. He hasn't made more than 30 starts in a season since 1998. Second, the Red Sox have babied Pedro a lot in recent years. That may be part of the reason he hasn't started more than 30 games, but it was also supposed to be the reason he'd be a healthy and dominant pitcher in the post-season. The problem is, that didn't happen.
After being coddled all season long, Pedro had a 4.76 ERA in four playoff starts. Even if you had taken him out after seven innings in game seven against the Yankees (as many people thought Grady Little should have), his post-season ERA would have been 3.86. That's just not good enough for somebody who gets paid as much as he does and gets babied as much as he does and gets free reign to say and do anything as much as he does.
If you can't count on Pedro to give you 30 starts (and you certainly can't count on him for more than 30 starts) and you can't count on Pedro to be absolutely amazing in the playoffs, then why would you give him a ton of money and a long contract? He's one of the greatest pitchers of all time, but he'll be 33 after the 2004 season and he'll be a big, big risk.
JK- I think you make him an offer in the neighborhood of 4 years/$60-65 million. If he takes it, pray that his arm stays on his body. If he doesn't, well you pray Steinbrenner doesn't open his purse. The thought of Pedro in a Yankee uniform sends a chill down my spine.
4. Should Grady Little have been fired? Who should manage the 2004 Red Sox and why?
BJ- Yes, Grady Little should have been fired, but not because of what happened in game seven of the ALCS. Grady just didn't fit in with what the Red Sox front office is trying to do. From what I understand, he almost completely ignored anything that had to do with statistics. It's not just that he wasn't the progressive coach they wanted, it's also that he bordered on insubordination with his complete and utter disdain for anything statistical or new.
As for who the new manager should be, I think it should come from the group of Glenn Hoffman, Bud Black and Terry Francona. I don't really know enough about each person specifically, but they all seem to fit the profile that the Red Sox are looking for and I trust Epstein et al to pick the best of the three.
The reason I think one of them should be hired instead of a retread "experienced" manager like Mike Hargrove or Davey Johnson is that the Red Sox are trying to be forward-thinking in the way they run things and they need an open-minded, forward-thinking manager on the bench. They don't need somebody sitting on the bench who will say, "I've always done things this way and I ain't changing for some 29-year-old whiz kid."
Boston has people in place who are capable of making something very special happen in the near future. Now, they need to hire somebody who can help them -- who can work with them -- to make that happen. Grady was frequently working against them, or just ignoring them all together.
JK- Grady Little should have been fired before this season. He did a better job in 2003 then he did in 2002, but his bullpen managing was terrible. Two stories will always piss me off about that whole thing. One was Grady not wanting to bring Williamson in game 7 because Scotty had a canker sore. Grady thought he was too stressed. Another was in Baltimore when Lowe had given up some pretty sharply hit line drives. Pitching coach Dave Wallace picked up the phone to call for someone (Mike Timlin I think), and Grady put his hand on the phone and said "We'll see how he does". Lowe gave up 5 runs in that inning, and the Sox lost 11-2.
A guy I've heard some good thing about is Joe Maddon, the Angels bench coach. He public said that he wants the job, and feels that statistical analysis is important in this day. I think the field manager is pretty unimportant as long as they execute the organization's plan, something Glenn Hoffman, Bud Black, and Maddon have said they would do. It was also something that Grady Little refused to do. If I was to rank them, I would say Maddon, Hoffman, Black, then Francona.
5. Todd Walker was the hero of this postseason, bailing out the team on numerous occasions. But, he really is a very platoonable player, susceptible to good left-handed pitching. Do you re-sign Walker, or save the money for pitching? Would you go with Bill Mueller at second and Youkilis at third? Who plays second?
BJ- Walker is a pretty good hitter for a second baseman, but he's also an average fielder at best. Also, as you said, he's really only a good hitter against righties, so it's probably not a good idea to give him the $3.5-4 million he'll probably want. Especially since there is a cheaper -- and probably better -- version of him that will probably be available this off-season.
It sounds like the Angels are going to non-tender Adam Kennedy, who is a better defensive player than Walker and who hits righties about as well as Walker does. Kennedy made $2.27 million in 2003 and I'd guess that he'd be willing to sign for about that for 2004.
Whether you re-sign Walker or sign Kennedy, you need to go out and find that person a platoon partner. Lou Merloni's a fan favorite, but he's never been all that good against lefties and this year he stunk against them while pounding righties. The best solution would be Placido Polanco, who has had an OPS of at least .880 against lefties three of the last four years (it was .790 in 2001). However, I don't know exactly what his situation is with Philadelphia, so he may not be available. Mark Grudzielanek would be another option, although he's been more inconsistent against lefties and he would have to take on heck of a pay cut over what he made in 2003.
You mentioned Kevin Youkilis, and he presents another intriguing possible option. The Red Sox could use the switch-hitting Bill Mueller at third and the left-handed hitting Adam Kennedy at second against righties and use the right-handed hitting Youkilis at third and Mueller at second against lefties. This would allow Boston to ease Youkilis into the majors, which would be a good thing because he's probably not ready to be there full-time yet. The nice thing about Youkilis is that even if he's not hitting, he probably won't be a complete drain on the offense because he takes a lot of walks.
There is one other thing I'd like to mention about Youkilis. He got a lot of press this season because he was mentioned in Moneyball and he had a .487 OBP at Portland and he got on base something like 70 games in a row at one point. If all that has caused his value to climb to the point where teams are itching to trade for him, then I'd trade him. I think he'll be a fine major leaguer, but it's not a sure thing and this could very well be the high-water mark for his value. If you can get real talent in return for him right now, I think it would be a good idea.
JK- Walker did the Red Sox a huge favor from a business stand point. He played well enough to be a type A free agent, and he did his best bashing in October, so it is fresh in other GM's minds. It's a no-brainer to offer Walker arbitration. If he accepts, good, we have a steady player at second, if he doesn't then we get two draft picks. If Walker doesn't resign, then my kind of pet project is Mark Bellhorn. Not only does he fit the organizational profile (high OB%, high slug) he plays a decent second base, he's a switch hitter, he's gonna be cheap because he was jerked around by Dusty Baker and buried by Clint Hurdle. Youkilis needs some seasoning at AAA before coming up to the big club. Mueller at second and Youk at third should be last resort.
6. The Red Sox second-tier players (Varitek, Ortiz, Mueller, Nixon) are all free agents after 2004 (along with Nomar and Pedro). All the second-tier guys are leaders (Varitek, Mueller), or Boston favorites (Ortiz, Nixon). Who gets re-signed, and why?
BJ- This is, to me, the toughest question facing the Red Sox. Of the four guys you mentioned, Mueller's the easiest because he doesn't really have the option of becoming a free agent after the 2004 season. The Red Sox have a $2.1 million option on him for 2005 (with a $0.3 million buyout) and I think they'll exercise it unless he's completely terrible in 2004.
The other three are all much tougher decisions, and you didn't mention Derek Lowe, who will also be a free agent after 2004 and also presents a difficult decision. It's really hard to say what the Red Sox should do with all of these players, so I'll try and go player by player and say as much as I can about the situation.
Jason Varitek will make $6.7 million in 2004. He will turn 33 very early in the 2005 season and the Red Sox have a catcher in the minor leagues named Kelly Shoppach who should be ready for the majors in 2005. So, I'd try to re-sign Varitek next off-season, but if he asks for a deal longer than three seasons and for more than about $6 million per season, I'd say thanks but no thanks. Varitek gets a ton of credit for being a wonderful handler of the pitching staff and a bulldog who goes all out and motivates the team and really helps out on defense, but that's all stuff that's pretty hard to quantify. The numbers seem to indicate that he's a bit overrated on defense. His bat is certainly worth keeping if he hits like he did in 2003 or like he was before the injury in 2001, but it's not a good thing if he hits like he did in 2002 or 2000. Plus, catchers tend to start falling apart pretty quickly right around age 33. Varitek's important to the Red Sox, but not so important that they need to break the bank for him.
Trot Nixon is another guy that everybody loves to have around. He'll turn 30 on the same day Varitek turns 32 next spring and he has not ever shown any ability whatsoever to hit left-handed pitching. He made $4 million this season and will likely be due a significant raise in arbitration. I like Trot and I'd love to see him signed to an extension because he can absolutely demolish right-handed pitching, but he's not worth more than $6 or 7 million per year, if that much, in my opinion. I think the Red Sox should try to sign him to a four-year deal worth about $25 million. That way they get his age 30-33 seasons and they avoid arbitration this year.
Regardless of whether they keep Nixon past 2004, they're going to need to find him a real platoon partner for 2004. Gabe Kapler's a fine bit player, but when all you're looking for is somebody who can play right field and hit lefties, you can do better. Reggie Sanders and Brian Jordan would both be fine options if you could convince them to take a small salary and a part-time role, but I doubt that's a possibility. Eduardo Perez had a 1.126 OPS against lefties this year and a .997 OPS against lefties last year and he would probably be a fine option to platoon with Nixon. In fact, a Nixon/Perez platoon might provide almost as much offense as Manny Ramirez does.
David Ortiz was an absolute bargain this season because he made $1.25 million dollars. He's already said that he'd like a contract extension before next season. I'd probably be willing to give him a four-year deal for around $20 million. He'll turn 28 in a couple weeks, which means the entire contract would pretty much be during his prime, and there's no reason to think he can't perform like he did this year if he stays healthy. He hasn't been very good against lefties the past two years, but he showed some ability to hit them before that so he might not need a strict platoon.
Derek Lowe is 30 years old and will make $5 million in 2004. He had a great season in 2002 and an average season in 2003. I think his 2004 season will be somewhere in between and I'd probably be willing to give him three more years (after 2004) for around $21 million.
Another question facing the Red Sox is what to do with Kevin Millar. He's 32 years old and not very well conditioned and he looks like a prime candidate to decline next year (or at least not improve). Millar posted some of the best counting stats of his career this year, but he also posted some of the worst rate stats of his career. If the Red Sox keep him around for 2004, he probably shouldn't play 148 games again. I'd limit him to around 120 games at most and give Jeremy Giambi (who should be willing to sign for less than the $2 million he got last year) at least 80 games between first base, designated hitter and left field. Giambi was probably injured for a lot of this season and should be a better hitter next season. Ortiz probably shouldn't play against lefties that often (Giambi doesn't have as severe a split) and Manny will also need some days off.
Another option would be to trade Millar for whatever you can get and make Giambi and Ortiz your primary first baseman and DH. You could then sign somebody who hits lefties well (like Eric Karros or Julio Franco) to give those two the occasional day off. The reason I'd consider trading Millar for very little is that he has a $3.5 million option for 2005 that is guaranteed if he gets 800 plate appearance between 2003 and 2004. Since he got 618 PAs in 2003, it's a virtual lock that his option would become guaranteed if he returns in 2004. I don't mind having Millar around for 2004, but I don't really want him around in 2005.
Yet another option would be to trade away both Millar and Ortiz and trade for Derrek Lee and make Giambi the DH. You might even be able to swing a deal with Florida for Lee that includes Ortiz.
JK- Nice little mess Dan Duquette left the Sox, eh? Mueller will be 34, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him walk. I think Nixon and Ortiz get locked up for a few years this offseason, since they will go to arbitration anyway. Varitek is an interesting case because he will be 34, and a catcher. Carlton Fisk and Benito Santiago are the only two catchers I know of that have played more then one season at a high level after the age of 34. Not only that, the Sox's best prospect is catcher Kelly Shoppach. I think 'Tek gets a extension offer this offseason for a few seasons, and then an offer to coach in the system. More likely is that Varitek is somewhere else in 2005. Also, Williamson, Kim, and Lowe will be free agents after 2004 too. It's a big mess.
7. I thought that by the end of the season, Theo had built himself a pretty good bullpen. Does Mike Timlin need to be re-signed after a dominating postseason? Is Scott Williamson ready to close big games? Will Alan Embree bounce back? And, most importantly, what role does Byung-Hyun Kim play next season?
BJ- I feel pretty good about Boston's bullpen for 2004. I think Mike Timlin should be brought back if he's willing to sign for around $2.5 million and I think Williamson is perfectly capable of handling the closer's role. He has performed well as the closer in Cincinnati and, from what I understand, he had a lot of issues at the end of the season that contributed to his poor performance.
What I'd really like is to see the Red Sox start using the closer's role the way Oakland does. I'd give Williamson the role this season and let him rack up 35-40 saves. I believe he'll be eligible for free agency after 2004 and all those saves would probably make him a Class A (or Type I or whatever it is) free agent, which means the Red Sox would get nice draft picks when another team signs him in the 2004 off-season. Then, the Red Sox can just go get somebody else to be their closer (maybe even somebody they already have like Brandon Lyon or Casey Fossum).
As for Embree, I think he'll be fine next year. It's silly to think he'll ever have as good a season as he had in 2002, but I don't see any reason why he can't give the Red Sox 60 innings with an ERA in the mid-3.00's.
Byung-Hyun Kim should, in my opinion, be a starter next season. I think Kim is a great reliever, even in 2003 when people were treating him like the worst closer in the history of baseball, but there are three compelling reasons to move him into the starting rotation.
First, weird things seem to happen when he's in the bullpen. I don't know why and I don't know that it would continue to happen, but there always seem to be incidents when Kim is in the bullpen. Plus, the worst incidents seem to happen against the New York Yankees, who just so happen to be Boston's biggest rivals. There's no reason to test this situation when there's a perfectly viable alternative.
Second, he has more value as a starter. Kim posted a 3.38 ERA in 72 innings as a starter this season, which is pretty good. He did only average six innings per start and his strikeout rates were significantly lower as a starter than as a reliever, but I think he's capable of being a very nice starting pitcher. If he could give the Red Sox 190 innings (30 starts at six and one-third innings per start) with an ERA around 3.25 to 3.50, he would be one of the best fourth starters in the majors, if not the best.
Third, Kim wants to be a starter. If the Red Sox give him a shot at starting for an entire season, he may be more inclined to stay with the team when he becomes a free agent (which I think is also after the 2004 season. The 2004 off-season is going to be a very busy one).
JK- Mike Timlin is one of my favorite Sox from 2003. The fan in me would love to see him back. However, I'm not sure how smart it would be to sign a 38 year old middle reliever who might ask for big money. His case is actually much like Walker's, in that he is also a Type A. I would love to get Timlin back for similar money.
As for Williamson and Embree, they will be fine. Williamson is a guy that I would give the ball to in any situation. The same with Embree. I have nothing but confidence in those two for the back of the bullpen. Kim needs to be given a role, and kept there, no matter what. When he came to the Sox, he started and pitched well. Grady got nervous though and started him in the bullpen between starts and I think it messed with his arm some. Then you make him the closer and pitch him in five straight games? I would like Kim to be in the rotation next year. He has the ability to be the 2nd starter on a lot of teams.
8. Pedro and Tim Wakefield are givens next season. The team will also bring back Derek Lowe, another given. Should Jeff Suppan get brought back? Should prospects Bronson Arroyo (IL Pitcher of the Year) or Jorge De La Rosa get shots? Does Casey Fossum deserve another look? What players should Epstein bring in to fill the rotation?
BJ- As you said, Pedro, Wakefield and Lowe are givens. That leaves two spots available. My hope is that those two spots will be filled by Kim and Bronson Arroyo. I talked about Kim in the previous question, so I'll just talk about Arroyo here.
For some reason, he only pitched 17.1 innings for the Red Sox this season, but he only gave up 10 hits and he struck out 14 batters. Also, as you said, he was the IL Pitcher of the Year after posting a 3.43 ERA with 155 strikeouts and 23 walks in 149.2 innings for Pawtucket. Arroyo will be 27 when the 2004 season starts and his strikeout and walk rates have improved each of the last two seasons. In 2001, Arroyo had 88 strikeouts and 49 walks in 154.2 innings between Pittsburgh and AAA. In 2002, he had 138 strikeouts and 43 walks in 170 innings between Pittsburgh and AAA. In 2003, he had 169 strikeouts and 27 walks in 167 innings between Boston and AAA.
It's time to see what Arroyo can do as a full-time starter. His numbers are impressive and the few times I've seen him pitch his stuff has looked good. At worst, I think he'd be a serviceable fifth starter just like John Burkett was. At best, I think he could put up numbers worthy of being a second or third starter on most teams.
I do think Casey Fossum deserves another chance and he'll probably get a long, hard look in spring training. It seems unlikely to me that the Red Sox will just hand out the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation this winter. There will probably be a competition of sorts in spring training and I'm sure Fossum will be involved in that competition. I think Fossum has good enough stuff to be a starter, but I'm not sure if he has the durability to be a starter. He has a very slight build (he's listed at 6-1, 165 pounds, but he may not be even that heavy) and he's been somewhat injury-prone during his career. I think he might be more valuable as a reliever and, as I mentioned earlier, he could eventually be an option for the Red Sox at closer.
Jorge De La Rosa put up some very impressive numbers in AA, but it seems to me that he could use a full season in Pawtucket before he gets a job in Boston. He's only 22 years old, so I don't see any reason to rush him to the big leagues before he's definitely ready.
JK- I'd take a flyer on Arroyo in the rotation coming out of camp, with Fossum, who has one more option year, in Pawtucket to get stronger. Unfortunately, I think Fossum might be better suited for relief. I think DLR starts the year in Pawtucket too, and I fully expect the Red Sox to take the Earl Weaver approach to breaking him in. One year in long relief, and build him up until he is winning 20 in the bigs. One interesting pitcher to look at for the rotation is Jose Jimenez. He was terrible in Colorado this year, but he is an extreme groundball pitcher. The less balls hit in the outfield in Fenway the better. One forgotten fact about Jimenez is that he threw a no hitter as a rookie for the Cardinals. I think realistically, Colon/Millwood/Pettitte is a pipedream. Ponson has a torn labrum, and there is no way I would sign him to more then a one year deal.
9. Give a step-by-step offseason to-do list for Theo Epstein, as well as your predicted/desired 2004 Red Sox lineup.
BJ- 1. Hire a new manager as quickly as possible. Determine who the best candidate is as soon as you can and give him the job immediately. The players currently on the team and the free agents who might consider coming to the team will want to know who they will be playing for. Don't make them wait too long.
2. Decide quickly whether or not you want to trade Manny Ramirez. If you can't find a deal that really helps you by the end of November, then call it quits and pencil Manny into the 2004 lineup.
3. Talk to Nomar and his agent and see what their thoughts are on a possible contract extension. If you can come to an agreement this off-season, that would be great. If not, start talking to Miguel Tejada and see what it would take to get him in a Boston uniform. At the same time, start talking to other GMs to see what kind of interest there is in Nomar.
4. Talk to Mike Cameron and see what it would take to get him in a Boston uniform. At the same time, start talking to other GMs to see what kind of interest there is in Johnny Damon.
5. Re-sign Mike Timlin (this should actually probably be done pretty quickly because Timlin has made it clear that he wants to return to Boston).
6. Develop a plan for the rest of the potential 2004 free agents and start acting on that plan. Consider giving Nixon, Ortiz and Lowe extensions before the 2004 season. Wait until after the 2004 season to extend Varitek unless he's willing to sign for a reasonable amount this off-season and you don't think he'd be willing to sign for that amount next off-season. See if you can get anything in a trade for Millar.
7. Sign Adam Kennedy as soon as he gets non-tendered by the Angels.
8. Find platoon partners for Kennedy and Nixon.
9. Here's my desired 2004 lineup:
RF Trot Nixon - L
3B Bill Mueller - S
LF Manny Ramirez - R
DH David Ortiz - L
SS Miguel Tejada - R
CF Mike Cameron - R
C Jason Varitek - S
1B Kevin Millar - R
2B Adam Kennedy - L
3B Bill Mueller - S
SS Miguel Tejada - R
LF Manny Ramirez - R
CF Mike Cameron - R
DH David Ortiz - L
RF Eduardo Perez - R
C Jason Varitek - S
1B Kevin Millar - R
2B Placido Polanco - R
Bench: Perez, Polanco, Jeremy Giambi, Doug Mirabelli, Damian Jackson
Bullpen: Scott Williamson, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Ramiro Mendoza
JK- 1. Hire a manager
2. Get someone who can hit lefties to platoon with Nixon and spell Ramirez. Jose Cruz and Reggie Sanders would probably be the best fit if they don't mind being platooned.
3. Try to get the bullpen set up before the season. Signing a guy like Timlin, or plugging Jimenez in the bullpen would save guys like Sauerbeck from pitching into their opponent's strengths.
4. Get a decent glove for second base. Even if you resign Walker, Damian Jackson wasn't much better at 2b. Someone along the lines of a Tony Graffinino, or David Eckstein. Adam Kennedy would also be a good option if you don't resign Walker and Bellhorn makes you nervous.
5. Figure out the starting rotation. Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield are penciled in. Now decide whether Kim and Arroyo are what you want. If not, try and get Maddux at short money. Don't break the bank on Colon or Millwood. Make some "show-me" bids on Pettitte to try and push the Yankees up to crazy heights.
6. Decide what to do at catcher. If you want Shoppach up for 2004, then let Mirabelli go. If you want to extend Varitek, do it before Javy Lopez signs, because he will set the market for Varitek.
7. Try and convince Allard Baird or Ed Wade that Ramiro Mendoza is one step away from being lights out again. Then laugh as he disappears off the payroll.
Desired line up vs. RHP
CF - Damon
RF - Nixon
LF - Ramirez
SS - Garciaparra
DH - Ortiz
1B - Millar
3B - Mueller
C - Varitek
2B - Kennedy
Desired line up vs. LHP
CF - Damon
3b - Mueller
LF - Ramirez
SS - Garciaparra
1B - Millar
RF - Sanders
2b - Bellhorn
DH - Varitek
C - Shoppach
Jorge de la Rosa
I'd like to thank Ben and Jeff, and remember you'll get my answers tomorrow, so stay tuned for that.