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Offseason Roundup

     With Pitchers and Catchers (the three greatest words in the English language) in a little over a month, I think it is a perfect time to start reviewing the Red Sox' offseason. We didn't get the precious Adrian Gonzalez. We didn't reel in Hanley Ramirez, bring back Jason Bay, or even manage to dump Mikey Lowell, but I still consider this offseason a resounding success.

     While I do appreciate the Tug Huletts and Robert Manuels of the game, I won't be focusing on every move the Red Sox made this offseason, so with that said, here we go:

     The first fish reeled in (get it, he was a Marlin?) was Jeremy Hermida. Hermida is chock-full of potential, and really still is, a the ripe old age of 25. He will serve as a left-handed bat (good career numbers against righties), and the fourth outfielder. I have no problem with this move. It gives the Sox a little more offense and a little more reliability than the man he replaced, Rocco Baldelli.

     The next move of note was the signing of RP Fernando Cabrera. The RIghty has been a journeyman middle reliever for a few years now - an archetypical AAAA pitcher, if you will - and will have the chance to replace one of the relievers Boston lost over the offseason.

     The Red Sox then went out and got shortstop Marco Scutaro. Scutaro, who has been a bench player for most of his career, has a penchant for getting on base, as well as a reputation as a very smart baseball player, and a good defender. This will be, I think, a suitable replacement for Boston's string of failed shortstops. It's only a small downgrade from the wonderful Alex Gonzalez on D, while an upgrade of about 50 points of OBP will be very valuable out of the 9-hole.

     Scutaro isn't as flashy as some of the players who have tried their hand in Fenway (Renteria, Lugo), he is more of just a good, solid player, and I think this will help him to successfully hold down the fort while we wait for Jose Iglaesias, SS of the future.

     The Red Sox then signed Lefty Fabio Castro. He also may have a chance to compete for the job as the lefty specialist job this spring. He doesn't have much of a big-league track record, and hasn't pitched in The Show since 2007, but we need a lefty, so...

     The Red Sox then traded a Player To be Named (those sweet, sweet words) for Boof Bonser. Boof has had his ups and downs at the big-league level, but like Hermida, Bonser could be a pet project for the Sox and pitching coach John Farrell. Now, with 6 established starters, Bonser will be relieving this year, and I had pegged him for a long relief man, but it looks like that will be Timmy Wakefield's role, so Bonser could get bumped up to middle relief, a position he has been abhorrent at for his entire career, with a relief WHIP approaching 1.7. That said, scouts claim tha Bonser has closer stuff. While I think that is a joke, I think that Bonser could be a valuable 7th starter, or eat 70-100 innings, whatever. I think that Farrell could improve him, or maybe not, but I think he has value on the Sox, at least for now.

     The came the wonderful 16th of December, when Boston inked SP John Lackey and CF Mike Cameron.

     Lackey will be teh #3 starter. This bull I keep hearing comparing Lackey to Lester and Beckett is just that: bull. Both are better, and I'm not being a homer, teh numbers support me heartily. Since 2008, Lester has been a top-10 pitcher in baseball. Beckett, a top-20 pitcher. Lackey? Top-25, maybe. Beckett is still Boston's ace, for whatever reason, like leading the staff / the 2007 postseason, but my extended point is that Lackey will be a very good, very expensive #3 starter. He'll pitch to 200 innings, post a 3.50-4.00 ERA, and probably benefit a little from Fenway Park. Either way you split it, Boston now has the best top-3 in baseball, and likely the best rotation in the world as well.

     Cameron I find an interesting signing. He is obviously the defender Jason Bay wasn't. In fact, he is so good, he will be moving to center field, shifting Jacoby Ellsbury to left. When combined with JD Drew, the Sox now likely have the best defensive outfield in baseball, which, you saw what it did for Seattle last year. I can't wait to see these boys in action.

     On offense, Cameron isn't a total bust. He'll hit around .250 or so, and hit 20-25 homers, which is more than great for the #8 hitter. He may be even better in the Fens. My only beef with Cameron is his age. He'll be thirty-freaking-seven by Opening Day, and this worries me. He has historically been a great defender, but last year was really only good, which was a step down from 2008 again. I fear that this could likely be a trend that will leave him only an average-above-average centerfielder (which is still an upgrade over Jacoby, mind you), but I doubt he'll be a Franklin Gutierrez out there.

     The Red Sox then tried to shift Mikey Lowell to Texas in return for catching semi-prospect Max Ramirez. Lowell's time as a benefit as a starter are more or less up. I believe the bat is still there - I would lay good money Lowell could hit .280 with 20 homers if he wanted to, but he isn't a very patient hitter (.343 career OBP, with 2008-09 both below that), and his defense has suffered incredibly. Now, for the mega-classy Lowell, my first hope is that he could rehab effectively, turn into a gold-glove third baseman again, and be an Al-Star. But that's not going to happen. He has been hurt several times over the past few seasons and is now a liability at third.

     So, to rectify the situation, the Red Sox tried to dump him for a catching future. Due to his injuries, the Lowell deal fell through, and he then got surgery. But this didn't stop the Red Sox from...


     Signing Adrian Beltre. Beltre is a step down from Lowell offensively (you can expect .275, 20 homers, low OBP), but is a massive upgrade in the field. Beltre, with the exception of last year, has been perhaps THE best third baseman in baseball. He will still be solid, though maybe not elite. Scouting reports still love him, but the numbers weren't kind last year. His 6.7 rtot/150 is pretty good (it means that had Beltre played 150 games, he would have saved 6.7 runs over the course of the season) is solid, but not overly impressive. Personally, I think he will be a small upgrade over Lowell. Worth $20 MM (Beltre's 9 plus 9-12 they will be paying Lowell)? When you're the Red Sox, it sure is.

    The last move of the offseason to date is the trade of Casey Kotchman to teh Mariners for super utility guy Bill Hall. Hall, a former star and right-handed bat, will get playing time at third and occasionally the outfield (spelling Drew in right, against lefties sometimes, if I had my guess). He is cheaper than Kotchman, and is more suited to a bench role, with his flexibility, so it's really a win-win for both sides.

    Well, there you have it. WHat the Red Sox have done this Winter and how I feel about it. I would have added pictures but it's just so late. Thanks for stopping in,

    -Matt

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