Ben Cherington has a lot to do. We at Ted's Army thought we'd take a shot at giving him some options for a game plan. We'll take turns explaining our steps to righting the proverbial ship. Next up: Aaron Gettings .
From an early age, my dream job has always been to be the General Manager of the Boston Celtics. When I started college, I majored in Sports Management and was well on my way. The plan was simple: get an internship with the C's, and once I was through the doors, dazzle them with my ability to pull off horribly lop-sided trades in NBA Live. Then, parlay that into increasingly higher positions with the club until I reached the mecca.
Fast forward a decade or so: I graduated college with a degree in English, they never let me through the doors to the Garden without a ticket, and NBA Live isn't even a thing anymore. But that never squelched my GM fire (and yes, that sentence was as awkward for me to write as it is for you to read. You're welcome). But, like most of you, my GM duties have been confined to the world of video games.
I bring this up for a reason. I have a pretty straightforward philosophy when it comes to how I run my virtual franchises, and one that I most certainly would employ were I ever to take the helm of a real club: hoard money, never sign contracts more than 3 years, and never splurge on a free agent unless they fill a gaping need. Admittedly, it's easier to stick to that in a video game than it would be when dealing with men with real lives and agents; but I think that's a sound approach to take to this Red Sox offseason.
So, without further biographical nonsense, here's what I would do, were I to lead the Sox front office this offseason:
Here's how I intend to do that:
Jacoby Ellsbury - Let's cut right to the chase: Ellsbury is gone. Well, probably gone. I would approach Boras and tell him that I'm willing to give Ellsbury a fair-market, long-term contract if he's willing to commit to the Red Sox right now. If he declines, Ellsbury will be wearing a new uniform come spring. Since there's no real scenario where Boras takes that deal, I start shopping Ellsbury around.
I fully understand that I've lost all leverage, but I'm OK with that. While I'm not going to get fair market value for Ellsbury, I'm still going to get considerable value. I target a starting pitcher. Someone who's realistically a 3, with the upside of a 2. I pull the trigger on the first deal that I like.
David Ortiz - Not surprising to anyone, I tell Ortiz to make me an offer on what it'll take to keep him in Boston. I agree to whatever terms he proposes.
Cody Ross - I re-sign Cody to a two year deal if the money isn't absurd. I'd try to get him for somewhere in the $5 million per year range.
Everyone Else - on the trading block. And I mean everybody. That doesn't mean I intent to trade anybody else, and most likely wouldn't move a Lester or Pedroia or Buchholz, but I'm open to any conversation. Players won't like it, but I'm not terribly concerned with hurt feelings. One player I would actively try to move is Saltalamacchia. Part of my 2013 approach is seeing what we have with the young'ns, and Salty is simply in the way.
Who to Target
I'm not doing much with free agency. I'm not entertaining conversations with Hamilton or Greinke, or anyone else that's going to demand tons of money and/or years. In fact, my free agent haul will be pretty lackluster. In scrolling through the list of potential free agents this offseason, there's two guys that I'm going to target:
Mike Napoli - Just so we're clear, he's going to be playing a lot of first base for me, with some catcher sprinkled in. One thing the Sox proved down the stretch is that we desparetly need some power in the middle of the lineup. Napoli fills that hole. Plus, he'd be a good fit in Boston.
Francisco Liriano - Most of you will either laugh at, or angrily scream at, this signing. But I'm making it. I've been a fan of Liriano's for a long time, and I know all about his issues and lack of control. But my gut tells me that he's going to be an effective pitcher again. I'm sure he can be had for a one-year deal, and he's worth the risk to pencil in at the end of the rotation. Worst-case, he's terrible and we cut him loose. Best-case, we get him somewhere near his 2010 form and we have ourselves another young, good lefty in the rotation. The risk is worth taking.
Beyond that, I'll look for a bullpen arm or two. A backup outfielder. Probably keep Ciriaco around as the uber utility man. Mostly so I can shout "CIRIACO!!" from the owner's box. Get to cross that off the bucket list. Like I said, nothing flashy.
Where Does That Leave Us?
That leaves us playing a whole lot of young guys, but by design. Scott may have used this same phrase in his post, but we need to know what we have. And the only way to do that, is to let them play. This lineup may be painful in stretches, but it's a necessity to move forward.
Here's my everyday lineup and pitching rotation:
CF - Kalish
2B - Pedroia
DH - Ortiz
1B - Napoli
RF - Ross
3B - Middlebrooks
LF - Kalish
C - Lavarnway
SS - Iglesias
1 - Lester
2 - Buchholz
3 - Lackey
4 - Player obtained for Ellsbury or Doubront
5 - Liriano
I actually think this team will be competitive, and may even be enjoyable to watch. We get the season to see what Kalish, Iglesias, Lavarnway, Liriano, and Doubront can bring while the on-the-cusp prospects get even closer.
We're also not really spending any money. This leaves us open to write the big check if the right player comes along, or to swap some prospects for the right established player, a la the Gonzalez trade. The key is to remain flexible for the next few seasons, even at the expense of the immediate win-loss record.