Monday, November 30, 2009

Playing Marco Polo in the Dwindling Shortstop Pool

Well, I'm glad the Sox settled the shortstop question quickly and easily, providing some sort of continuity at a position that's had steady of stream of different warm bodies for far too long. Wait, just kidding.

Now that Gonzalez is definitely out of the picture for 2010, removing another possibility from a market both weak in options and rapidly tightening as the month has progressed, we've got a run at Marco Scutaro to look forward to. As Fire Brand of the American League points out in a slightly convoluted metaphor, Scutaro might have finally hit whatever summit he's going to have in his baseball career - his splits for 2009 were .282/.379/.409, far above his career totals of .265/.337/.384 - but that'll make him far too popular for those teams in need. In other words, expect Boston to overpay, quite possibly with a contract that'll keep Scutaro around for a year or two too long, because they don't have the leverage.

I'd be really happy if this deal works out to Boston's advantage, but I suspect we're in for something closer to the Renteria deal, with a bit higher of an upside: Scutaro hits well enough for a year, but tails off in 2011 (when he turns 35) and turns into dead-weight trade bait that the Sox dump for minor leaguers who never make a big contribution. Jed Lowrie, meanwhile, remains haunted by the after-effects of his broken wrist and never blossoms into the player we've stopped expecting him to become.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Little Hot Stove Housekeeping

The Sox did some housekeeping today: they declined Gonzalez's ($6 million) and Varitek ($5 million)'s options, picked up Martinez's $7.7 million option, and changed Wakefield's perpetual club option into a two-year, $4 million deal. The business with catchers isn't surprising, but I'm a little baffled by the Gonzo choice. Presumably Boston is hedging its bets, slipping in the possibility of picking up a draft pick if Gonzalez declines to prolong his tenure and ends up somewhere else, but are things really that sure at shortstop next year that they can afford to make this bet? It's not like the shortstop free agent market is aces this off season and Jed Lowrie...well, we all know he's nothing like a sure thing, either. I guess we'll see what the Sox have planned.

As for Wakefield: does the new deal mean that Wake has a retirement date in mind? The perpetual option was fun because, quite frankly, it allowed us (or me, anyway) to live out a fantasy where Wakefield entered some sort of relativistic universe where age meant nothing and he could keep pitching forever, but clearly the injuries of this past season dealt that particular hope a crushing blow. If Wake's feeling his age enough to sign a time-limited deal - or the Sox are worried enough about his health to send him down that road - the true end can't be that far behind.