Red Sox Hot Stove Report
December 11, 2010
With the Winter GM meetings wrapping up a few days ago, and the Red Sox having already snagged both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, there doesn't seem much left on Theo Epstein's plate that could be accomplished, except meddle with the New York Yankees chances of landing former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.
The Yankees have upped their offer to Cliff Lee for seven years and over $200 million dollars. They were originally offering only six years, but threw another year onto a possible deal after the Red Sox one-upped the Yankees and offered Lee a seven-year deal. The Red Sox are obviously toying with the Yankees, driving the price up on a deal they have no intentions of completing. Usually New York is the one doing the price-ratcheting every off-season. There still is a chance that Lee could re-up with the Texas Rangers, but I doubt it. They don't have the money nor the resources to invest that much in one pitcher, so I see no reason why Lee will not sign with the Yankees. This doesn't seem to be a "cliff-hanger," as currently being reported by the larger media outlets.
There were also rumblings at the Winter Meetings about a possible deal in the works for the Sox to unload SS Marco Scutaro. Scutaro still has one year left on his two-year $12 million dollar deal, but the Sox may be looking to give Jed Lowrie another shot at short. He showed some power (when he played) and is certainly as good with the glove as Scutaro. Lowrie has been a fragile player since being called up to the Red Sox, being hampered by everything from mono-nucleosis to a recurring wrist problem, which has probably sapped his power. He once hit 30 homeruns in a full season with the AAA affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox, and he may benefit from the right field wall being moved-out 9 feet, if the Sox go through with the "widening of the bullpens."
Reliever Scott Downs has signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 3 years at $5 million a year, which shows you the going rate for relievers right now. Downs is a good left-handed pitcher, but the years may end up hurting the Angels more than the money, as relievers are as predictable as the wind year-to-year. The Sox may look inward to find a decent reliever, as Michael Bowden, once hailed as an excellent starting pitcher, may be a piece of the bullpen puzzle this year. Also, Junichi Tazawa, who pitched an excellent game against the Yankees in 2009 but was on the losing end of an extra innings thriller, will presumably be healed in time for spring-training after undergoing Tommy John rotator cuff surgery in the 2009 off-season. Although Downs has proved himself pitching in a tough division, the AL East, it may still be a wiser move to give those innings to players who aren't eligible for free-agency for the foreseeable future.
14-Dec-2010: Cliff Lee surprisingly signed with the Phillies. He apparently prefers living in Philadelphia over New York. Also, his wife was also harassed at Yankee Stadium during the 2010 ACLS between the Rangers and Yankees. He took significantly less money by accepting the Phillies offer.
— Roman Llimar