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The Mass Media

Red Sox Plans for the 2009-2010 Off-Season Part Two

Outfield- Of the three spots in the outfield, two of them are locked in for 2010. Jacoby Ellsbury is slowly becoming an All-Star caliber centerfielder while JD Drew had a solid season with 24 homers and a .279 batting average. Problem is, he is way overpaid, but that’s a topic for a different article. Anyways, main problem here is that Jason Bay is a free agent. The 31 year old had a career year with 36 homers and 119 RBI’s. He is not going to come cheap but this needs to be done. The Sox waited too long to lock him up and because of it, Theo and co. are going to have to pay for it. Bay loves playing here and hopefully he will resign with the Sox. Issue here is that Bay is from the Northwest and there was a report last week that the Seattle Mariners are in hot pursuit of him. We all know the Sox would prefer not to give Bay a 5 year deal, which the Marines will definitely do. If that is the case, Bay is as good as gone. Look for that to happen, which means look for Matt Holliday to come aboard. He’s younger than Bay, and is an overall better hitter. With Youk, V-Mart, Holliday, and a healthy David Ortiz, all I can say is yikes. Let’s be serious, do you think Theo and Co. really are OK with giving up a first round draft pick for Marco Scutaro?

Also, the acquisition of Jeremy Hermida most likely means that Rocco Baldeli’s time here is over. Hermida is a left handed power bat that can fill in if Drew needs a breather. However, look for the Sox to still add a right-handed outfielder to solidify their bench.

Acquire: Matt Holiday 6 yrs/$95MM

Acquire: either Rocco Baldeli 1yr/$1MM or Gary Sheffield 1yr/$1MM or Coco Crisp 2yr/$8MM

Starting Pitching- This is a strong spot entering 2010 regardless of what happens. Josh Beckett is coming off of a strong season winning 17 games. Jon Lester had his second straight strong season and is slowly becoming one of, if not the best, left handed pitcher in the American League. Next year could be the year Lester wins 20 games and becomes that serious Cy Young candidate he has the potential to be. If Dice-K is healthy, he too can win 15-18 games. At worst, if the top three are healthy, that’s a minimum of 45 wins with a max out of 55-60. Did I mention after the top three is the ageless wonder Tim Wakefield? Wake was in the midst of his best season before his back started to flare up. He was a first time All-Star and shows no reason of declining. The fifth starter is where things can become entertaining. John Lackey will be way too expensive to be a backend of the rotation starter. Even if the Sox sign Aroldis Chapman, he will be a year or two away. Based on my predictions, Clay Buccholz will be traded so that spot is wide open. Expect Theo and co. to do what they did last year with a John Smoltz/Brad Penny experiment, only this time, hopefully more successful. In this case, sign Ben Sheets. He’s only 31 and he still has a few good years in him. If he stays healthy, and that’s a big if, he could win 15-18 games.

Acquire: Ben Sheets 1yr/$7MM with incentives to bring salary up to $10MM; don’t be surprised if there is a club option for 2011

Acquire: Justin Duchscherer 1yr/$4MM with incentives to bring value up to $8MM (If of course, the Sox cannot sign Sheets)

Acquire: Aroldis Chapman 4yrs/$25MM (major league contract) will start out at Double A- Portland

Relief Pitching- This should be just a quick tune up. With fire-baller Daniel Bard emerging as a force out of the ‘pen, the 8th inning is now all set. It is the 7th and 6th innings that are open to whoever wants them. Returning to the ‘pen in 2010 is Ramon Ramirez, Manny Delcarmen, stud closer Jonathan Papelbon, and Mr. Reliable, Hideki Okajima. With the recent news that BOTH Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito are not returning and both heading to Atlanta, the Sox suddenly need two arms. Wagner was offered arbitration so the Sox do get a first round draft pick from Atlanta. The Sox should look into returning the favor and sign Atlanta’s own free agent Mike Gonzalez. He is a lefty who throws hard like Wagner and is an overall stud as a relief pitcher. An interesting player would be Kelvim Escobar. He missed all of last year and could be a righty that makes the team and is not used a lot in the beginning of the season but becomes more reliable (like Saito did) later in the year.

Acquire: Kelvim Escobar 1 yr/$2MM plus incentives based on innings and games finished

Acquire: Mike Gonzalez 3 yr/$12MM

Lastly, the Sox probably want to at least consider contract extensions with Josh Beckett, Victor Martinez, and maybe, Jacoby Ellsbury. If this is the case, look for Beckett to get 5yrs/$80MM, Martinez to get 3yrs/$33MM with a potential 4th year option, and Ellsbury to get a 5yr/$28MM.

Again, this is purely speculation and based on what makes sense in my head and what would also make sense on paper. If all of this is done, the Sox will be handing out at least 180 million dollars. It is a lot of money, and this is not including the added payroll it would take to have Miguel Cabrera. Either way, the Sox can be minor players in free agency but make a big splash in the overall improving of the ball club. If the majority of these happen, look for the Sox to be serious World Series contenders.