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Tag:Theo Epstein
Posted on: December 11, 2008 3:58 pm
 

GM for a Day: Smoltz + Red Sox = Perfect Couple

Throw a Sox hat on this guy      

For the first time since his successful shoulder surgery in June, righty John Smoltz climbed to the top of a pitching mound earlier this week. Not only did he snap off his full repertoire of pitches, but he turned some heads as well.

One of those heads sat on the shoulders of Theo Epstein.

Smoltz, who is a free agent and on record as saying Boston is one of a very few places he would be willing to sign, is favored to land back in Atlanta where he has spent all 20 years of his career. The Tigers, who are of special significance since Smoltz is a Michigan native, are also interested in the future hall of famer.

Despite his allegiance to Atlanta or reveries of a heart-warming homecoming in Detroit, Boston is the best place for Smoltz.

In my estimation, by stating that he only wants to return to the Braves if they have a realistic chance of winning a World Championship is another way of saying, "Sorry Atlanta, but you are rebuilding and I'm gonna work the market and play for a winner". And who better to fit that bill than the Red Sox who came within one game of returning to their 3rd world series in 5 years?

One selling point is that the Sox have a specific void which needs to be filled: the fourth spot in their rotation. At 41 years of age (42 in May) Smoltz would be asked to be the ace in both Atlanta and Detroit. Putting that kind of presure on a surgically repaired arm can't be healthy...but Boston offers a low-risk option. Even if Smoltz doesn't return to Cy Young form, which is likely the case, he would be considered a success in Beantown if he went 14-8 with a 4.00 ERA...with those numbers he would be considered a flop elsewhere.

The Red Sox also have to think of the future of their rotation. Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden are supposedly still a little ways away from starting the season in the big leagues, but are both penciled in to be in the 2010 rotation. So where can Boston find a decent arm willing to sign only a one year deal? Tah-dah! John Smoltz, because of his recent arm problems, is only looking for a single year deal.

But Smoltz is a former Cy Young winner, isn't it going to cost an arm and a leg to sign this guy? Not so. Where as other 2nd tier hurlers like Oliver Perez (5 years $75 mil), Andy Pettitte (extended contract, $15 mil per year), and Ben Sheets (upwards of $14 mil) are all looking for around $15 million per season, Smoltz is testing the waters at $10 million! That has "steal" written all over it.

Just close your eyes for a minute and picture a playoff rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, and Smoltz....beautiful, isn't it? And unlike all the Peavy go-getters out there, this is actually realistic!

This deal makes perfect sense for both next year and the future...not to mention that fans will go nuts with such a big name signing. Don't expect Smoltz to be a 20 game winner, but he would, hands down, be the best number 4 starter in the league.

Posted on: November 20, 2008 3:21 pm
 

GM for a Day: AJ Burnett...proceed with caution

Although at the beginning of the offseason Red Sox GM Theo Epstein expressed his opinion in say the Sox didn't need to make a lot of moves to improve a team that nearly went to its third World Series in five years, but it seems like Boston has been involved in negotiations with a majority of the big names on the market, most recently: AJ Burnett.

CBS is reporting the rumors are untrue because if they were valid the fireballer would have jumped at the five year deal worth upwards of $85 million; however, I feel as though Burnett might realize the Yankees are more desperate for starting pitching and since they have seemingly bottomless pockets they could possibly produce a bigger offer than the Red Sox, especially if Sabathia signs elsewhere (which is looking more and more likely now the Giants have jumped in on the action and Sabathia himself has said that he would rather pitch in the NL so he can hit, and preferably in his home state of California).

Although I feel like giving Burnett $17 per season is outrageous, I can't help but smirk when I think about a rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, and Burnett. That said, if I were Epstein I would not sign the soon to be 32 year old right hander. This guy is a clear cut contract year pitcher. Last season he set career highs in wins (18), starts (35), Innings (221.3), and Strikeouts (231). Prior to that, all of his career highs were set in he 2005 (12 wins, 32 starts, 209 innings, 198 Ks), which, coincidentally happens to have been the only other contract year of his career.

Another reason to stay away from the former Blue Jay and Marlin is that in his nine full seasons as a professional, Burnett has endured 10 different trips to the disabled list. Worse yet, there have only been 3 years that the nine year veteran has not found himself spending extended time injured. In translation, if you play the averages game, and the Red Sox sign Mr.Burnett to a five year deal, you're looking at getting a healthy 85 million dollar pitcher for two full seasons.

As tempting as it is to go after a big name free agent, as GM I would prefer to see Clay Buchholz be given the 5th spot in the rotation starting in April. I know you're rolling your eyes last year because the kid struggled mightily, posting a 2-9 record with a 6.75 ERA, but he is still only one year removed from his impressive debut with the Sox where his numbers were a more than impressive 3-1 record, 1.59 ERA, with 22 Ks in 22 innings. Don't forget that young pitchers don't always throw well right out of the gate. If you remember back to Lester's first year in the bigs his ERA was nearly 5.00. We'd all be kicking ourselves if we gave up on him after that debacle, now wouldn't we?

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com