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?

Posted on: November 18, 2008 4:30 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2008 8:10 pm

GM for a day: Red Sox possible transactions

While there aren't a whole lot of questions facing this off-season, and as Tony Massarittu said in a recent article, "[The Red Sox] are not truly desperate for anything. Even if the Sox make no moves, they will return with a club that came within one victory of another trip to the World Series." There are however few rumors circulating that would have perked my interest as a GM and one is as follows:

Sending Julio Lugo to the Tigers for either Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson. These talks fell through due to monitary restraints on the Tigers part, but it brings up the point that the Sox have two players on their current roster who don't have a place in the starting lineup, but could possibly be shipped out for young tallent; Lugo and Coco Crisp.

Okay, so the Sox would be happy just getting rid of Lugo and his $9.25 million a year contract for a bag of balls. There isn't a team out there that will give the Sox any real talent in return for a 33 year old Lugo who managed a MAJOR LEAGUE WORST .139 batting average with risp last season, but with the emergence of Lowrie, who is not only a far superior fielder, but hitter also, the Sox need to do all they can to ship lugo out of town...they can find another pinch runner for cheaper...

Crisp isn't going to be the cornerstone of any deals this off-season either, but unlike Lugo he doesn't have some attraction as a deal sweetener for some teams. Coco, who finished last season with a .284 BA, 7 HR, 55 R, and 20SB in just 381 atbats is still only 29 years old and is scheduled to make just $5 million next year. Crisp would be the starting centerfielder on any number of teams in the league and the Sox just need to find a team that has some semblance of catching depth in order to make a deal.

The most well known trade talks right now that may include Coco Crisp are with the Texas Rangers who, with the departure of Milton Bradley, leaving a whole is CF, as well as significant catching depth (Jerrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Jerald Laird), seem to be the perfect fit for a trade with the Sox. The latest rumors have Clay Buccholz and Crisp being sent to Texas for Saltalamacchia, a catcher who despite his mediocre 2008 (.253 BA, 3 HR, 26 RBI in 200AB) has amazing upside.

The Rangers seem set on keeping Teagarden, the youngest and most highly praised of the three Texas squatters, but since the Sox seem equally set on keeping their young pitching tallent, don't be surprised to see Crisp traded straight up for Laird later in the winter. Another possible transaction that might be in the works is sending a package comprised of two of three young pitching prospects from the Sox (Bowden, Masterson, Hagadone) and Crisp for Saltalamacchia.

Other possibilities for players you could package Crisp for that I dream about (longshots): Ryan Doumit (PIT) , Ramon Hernandez (BAL), Kelly Shoppach (CLE).

Posted on: November 12, 2008 8:10 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2008 8:15 pm

AL MVP Predictions:Vote No to Francisco Rodriguez

If the Los Angeles Angels' closer Francisco Rodriguez wins the AL MVP I might cry.

The only solid statistic he has is 62 saves. All that stat is saying is that the Angels played more close games than any other team in the league. There isn't a legitimate baseball fan out there that would argue against the fact that if any of the top 10 closers in the game today were in Los Angeles this year that they wouldn't have saved the same amount of games.

It would be a travesty if Rodriguez won because he had his worst statistical season of his career. His ERA was a solid 2.24, but his WHIP was the highest of his career at 1.29. Compare that to Jonathan Papelbon (0.95), Mariano Rivera (0.67), or Joe Nathan (0.90). You might say, "WHIP is a worthless category", but the fact is that runners weren't just getting on base against him, they were scorching him for a .314 batting average. That is horrendous!! That .314 OBA is .034 points higher than his career average.

And don't throw me the arguement of, "Well he was actually the Most Valuable person to his team", because although he blew 7 saves (7 more than Brad Lidge who has eerily similar numbers but isn't even considered in the NL MVP balloting) if he had blown 20 his team still would have won their division!

The real winner here is going to be Josh Hamilton (.304 AVG, 32 HR, 130 RBI, 35 2B, 98 R, .538 SLG). While second place might seem like losing to most people, for the Texas Rangers, perennial AL West cellar dwellers, it is a huge step in the right direction, and they couldn't have done it without Hamilton. He has the best stats in the American League which makes him the player of the year, and that is really what this award has become.

The other candidates for the award all play on the same teams and will inevitably split votes and come up short. So congratulations in advance to Josh Hamilton, this year's AL MVP.

The final standing should look something like this:

Josh Hamilton OF, TEX

Dustin Pedroia 2B, BOS

Francisco Rodriguez RP, LAA

Justin Morneau 1B, MIN

Carlos Quentin OF, CHI

Alex Rodriguez 3B, NYY

Kevin Youkilis 1B, BOS

Joe Mauer C, MIN

Honorable Mention: Grady Sizemore OF, CLE, Evan Longoria 3B, TB, Miguel Cabrera 3B, DET, Vladimir Guerrero OF, ANA.

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