As Red Sox fans prepared for “Bridge Year One”, there was always the comforting thought that–even if we had to endure the “runs prevented” propaganda from the NOG–we were at least actively pursuing the best offensive fit for this team. That would be first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres–a free agent after the 2010 season.
There was so much speculation over the winter about proposed deals for the All-Star, that it was considered to be only a matter of time until good buddies Theo Epstein and current Padre GM Jed Hoyer pulled it off.
Now comes word (in an article by Dan Hayes of the North County Times) that, according to an unnamed “club official”, no teams approached the Padres about Gonzalez this winter. And then this ominous piece of information came from the same source, “The Padres expected the Red Sox to pursue Gonzalez, but they made no attempt.”. What? And this in the same article in which Gonzalez is virtually screaming to get out of San Diego (“This next contract is going to be the one where I look for what I deserve.”).
Does this mean that the “bridge” we all dread is more akin to the Zakim than the Longfellow? All this posturing about defense and pitching (let’s call it the “Raiders Of The Lost Offense” strategy) is acceptable only if we get a thumper like Gonzalez when we reach the other side of the river. Let’s hope Hayes’ source is wrong and Theo is serious about snaring the player they need most.
Should all the transactions on the table actually come to fruition (along with a few others that are rumored), your Boston Red Sox will undergo a radical transformation from the team you cheered in 2009. At this point, I’m not sure if it will be a positivetransformation, but you can’t deny the change.
The additions of Marco Scutaro at shortstop,Mike Cameron in left field and the likely move of Kevin Youkilis to third (please, Theo, go get Adrian Gonzalez to play first) will dramatically upgrade the left side of the team’s defense. Last year, despite the wizardry of Alex Gonzalez, Bay and Lowell made this element of the Red Sox game highly suspect. In fact, overall team defense was among the worst in all of baseball.
The addition of John Lackey to the rotation gives us a Roto-like sequence of Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Dice-K, and Buchholz or Wakefield. The Lackey addition allows for the luxury of shipping Clay (and some prospects) to San Diego for Gonzalez. Adding Gonzalez at first base would cement the infield as one of the best in baseball and provide the added thump (40 home runs last year) that this Bay-less offense will need.
So, instead of the “good offense, good pitching, bad defense” of 2009, we may see the “great defense, great pitching, very good offense” upgrade we have all been yearning for.
So, Theo, have you called Jed Hoyer yet today?
With the imminent departure of World Series hero Mike Lowell to Texas, the Red Sox have a gaping hole to fill at third base. Recent speculation has them lusting after Seattle’s Adrian Beltre–who they prize for both his stellar defense and powerful bat. The theory goes that away from spacious Safeco Field, Beltre would clear and/or pound the Green Monster with reckless abandon. And, to be sure, his home/road splits buttress that view.
But, there has always been some suspicion about his spike in power numbers in 2004 (23 to 48 home runs). To be fair, he has addressed the issue head on, stating, “I’ve never used steroids. I might have been slumping these last two years, but the one thing I can say is I’ve always been clean when playing this sport. I have never cheated. I have never used amphetamines.” We have to take him at his word.
Nevertheless, there is another Adrian who should be targeted by the Red Sox–Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres. The power-hitting first baseman is only 27, clouted 40 home runs last year in cavernous PETCO Park, and sported an on-base percentage of .407. Oh, and he is a Gold Glove-caliber defender. And, there has never been a hint of juicing on Gonzalez’s part.
While getting Gonzalez would necessitate moving Kevin Youkilis to third, his history of slick play at the hot corner makes this a no-brainer.
So, Yo! Theo–get the right Adrian!
Last year, the Evil Empire made three key acquisitions that led to you-know-what. C.C. Sabathia, A. J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira were the critical “X” factors that improved New York enough to make a serious run at a title.
In 2010, the Red Sox will need to make a similar splash in the off-season to have a chance to claim their third championship of the “aughts” and become the predominant team of the decade. It appears from early signs that Theo Epstein is willing to spend up to the luxury tax limit ($170 million) to beat back the Pinstripe Posers in the Bronx.
The 2010 Boston Troika may be just as impressive as the Empire’s. Let’s start withAdrian Gonzalez–the power-hitting young first-baseman from San Diego. Add in Jason Bay and/orMatt Holliday in left. Since King Felix seems ensconced in Seattle, how about Roy Halladay–the perennial Cy Young contender from Toronto? (As a side note, let’s hope it’s Bay in left field–I can only imagine Boston fans trying to correctly pronounce and spell both Halladay and Holliday–yikes!).
This bold approach would mean that either Mike Lowell or Big Papi would need to be shipped out–either one a tough pill to swallow for fans. It would also mean moving Youk to third for good. But if we’ve learned anything, it’s that Theo is not afraid to make controversial moves. It would also mean that we’d have to live with either Jed Lowrie or a re-signed Alex Gonzalez at short–not the end of the world in the powerful line-up these moves would produce.
So, look for big changes in your Olde Towne Team–and soon.