Re: A Realistic look at 2012: Part I
posted at 1/14/2012 11:09 AM EST
I agree jid. If we had picked up Bailey, Melancon, Sweeney, extended a soon-to-be FA AGon this winter, and signed Buch as a free agent this winter, would people still rip Ben?
Theo "pre-spent" much of this winter's money on AGon and Buch in April.
Ben's hands are essentially tied. The CC contract crippled us, and the Lackey deal and injury hasn't helped either. Then there's Dice-K and the continued injuries of others: Youk ('10 & '11), Pedey ('10), Ells ('10), Beckett ('10), Jenks ('10 & '11), Wheeler ('11), VMart, VTek, Scutty, Drew, Cameron, Wake, etc...
A few key injuries to the Yanks, Rangers and Angels and they'd look like us. Big healthy years from Buch & Youk and we'll be right there with these other teams as well.
We had the best offense last year and should get stronger with some help on the health front:
1) We could easily see a 90-120 point rise in LF OPS (Crawford just returns to career norm). .723 to .840
2) We could easily see a 60-100 point rise in RF OPS. (.652 to .740 with a platoon of Sweeney and Aviles/DMac.)
3) We could see a gain in OPS from our catchers (.737 to .775 with a L-R platoon of Salty and Shopp instead of the "personal caddy" nonsense)
4) We could easily see a 50-90 point rise in 3B OPS. (.812 to .890 with a healthy Youk.)
5) I think we will see increased power from AGon.
6) We may get offensive help from Lavarnway before the year is over.
(I realize we may also see declines in some areas, especially if we have an injury or two. No surprise if Ells or Papi decline a bit.)
Defense: I don't see any improvement, unless Youk and Scutaro stay 100% healthy and have a little more range than they had in 2011. We could change that drastically by bringing up Iggy or possibly moving Youk to DH a few games, but I'm not expecting that. I'm also not one to believe that CC is going to magically "learn LF" and do much better than his 2011.
Pitching is the big question. On the surface, it seems like losing Lackey, Weiland and Wake is an "addition by subtraction" situation, but the loss of Paps is huge. I'm not convinced that Bailey can and will stay healthy and Melancon can pitch well under the heat lamp of Boston. I'm not convinced moving Bard and/or Aceves to the rotation is the right move either, but as our staff looks now, at least one seems like the only way to go.
I do not think Ben is done, and maybe this recent Yanky flurry of activity will cause a little change in our philosopy. A reactionary management style usually does not work. I still think it is possible to stay under the tax limit and improve our team enough to be on a even playing field with other top teams. I've mentioned several times some specific ideas of my own that I feel would help, and I do think something similar to my ideas may be tried soon or at the deadline. It's going to take some tough decisions, but here is my plan again:
1) Send Jenks to the Cubs and call the Theo comp issue solved. Shedding $6M from payoll is better than any prospect we'd get anyway, and would go a long way in giving us the flexibility to sign or trade for pitching help.
2) Trade Scutaro to Atlanta or detroit or any other contending team in need of a decent SS. Get a prospect in return. We save up to $6M.
3) Trade some prospects (maybe Middlebrooks, Anderson, Exposito, and Bowden) for Gavin Floyd.
4) Sign Cody Ross (~$7M/2 years).
5) Sign 1-2 more low cost-high upside pitchers as insurance against injury.
This could be our 25 man roster on opening day...
In season help: