Red Sox Hot Stove Report
South Paws, December 12, 2010
The Red Sox seem to be serious about snagging the best in the the off season this year, giving a combined 14 years and $296 million dollars to LF speedster Carl Crawford, and slugging 1B Adrian Gonzalez. The trade for Crawford quelled any rumors about Mike Cameron being a full-time left-fielder for the Red Sox, and instead allows the Red Sox flexibility with a right-handed veteran bat with power off the bench, in a lineup that now has more lefties than righties, 5-4.
There are writers complaining right now that there are too many lefties in the lineup, that the left handed hitters will not be able to take advantage of hitting balls off the green monster. Remember though, that for 86 years, from 1919-2004 the Red Sox experimented with getting one-dimensional players, mostly right-handed, slow-footed sluggers, and those players racked up amazing long balls at Fenway, but couldn't duplicate them when playing in a deeper left-field stadium on the road.
The Red Sox are also considering a "widening the bullpens" in right-field, which has the auxiliary benefit of shortening the fence from 380 to 371. The team has to get permission from an historical society to preserve Fenway Park to complete the project, even though they own the ballpark. This would certainly help J.D. Drew, who is a dead pull-hitter, but I'm not sure about the other 4 lefties in the lineup. David Ortiz has adapted his swing to Fenway, and hits many homeruns over the Green Monster. Adrian Gonzalez also hits the ball the other way. Crawford and Ellsbury are essentially the same player, with Crawford having a little more power, but they are both spray hitters who hit the ball where the pitchers put it. This is one reason why I had thought the Red Sox should not have signed Crawford, but with the two next best options, Jayson Werth and Adam Dunn signing with other teams, the Sox really had no choice but to sign Crawford if they wanted a decent defender in left.
All of this hullabaloo over the signings of Crawford and Gonzalez still doesn't answer an important question for the Red Sox in 2011, that of: "what is to done with the bullpen?" I don't expect the Sox to sign big name relievers for big bucks for many years, which almost always ends up hurting the team in the long run. I believe the Sox will go low-key for the rest of the off-season, shoring up the bullpen. Relievers are a fickle and inconsistent bunch on the whole, and it seems best to take it one year at a time on contracts doled out to relievers. Sox fans may not recognize many of the names in the bullpen next year, but that's fine, as long as they can pitch.
— Roman Llimar