Why Are Beat Writers Being Dumb About the Red Sox?
If we learned anything from these last two Red Sox seasons, it’s that throwing money at aging superstars, just because you’ve got it, is a bad idea. We learned it with Adrian Gonzalez, who, at age 30, showed a serious decline in power before getting shipped off to Los Angeles—along with the tab for the $127 million he’s owed over the next six seasons. We learned it with Carl Crawford too. He’s the Dodgers’ problem now, but it was the Red Sox who gave the former-speedster-turned-chronically-injured 31-year-old the contract that will pay him roughly $20 million per year through 2017. And then there’s John Lackey, who, lest you forget after he lost last season to Tommy John surgery, not only still exists, but is on the Red Sox roster, even if it seems like he should play for the Dodgers too.
So this is pretty easy: Don’t sign guys to contracts that will pay them outrageous amounts of money into their mid- and late thirties. Especially if they don’t seem temperamentally fit to play in Boston. That means no to the likes of Josh Hamilton, the 31-year-old free agent slugger with more demons than a haunted house. I’ve been impressed listening to sports talk radio these last few months how much everyone seems to get this. That is, almost everyone.
From Globe baseball reporter Nick Cafardo’s Sunday column this week:
Carl Crawford, John Lackey, and perhaps even Adrian Gonzalez didn’t work out in one way or another (performance or chemistry) after receiving huge deals from the Red Sox. You can certainly see why the team might now be gun-shy about handing out such contracts.
And the recent signings seem to be the “good value” kind.
That’s all well and good, but the Red Sox do need a splash. If it’s only one splash, that’s OK, but right now, the Red Sox aren’t stirring up their Nation….this is where Josh Hamilton comes into play.
We know that Ben Cherington has explored it. We know that teams around baseball are waiting for the market to settle on him because no one wants to give him a seven- or eight-year deal. In the end, there may be a team or two willing to go that far, but if he would take five years — even with an outlandish yearly base — then you do it.
Oh, come on, Nick! Seriously? The Red Sox need to make a splash just for the sake of making a splash? To appease fans who actually understand that the team needs a slow, smart rebuild, not the first solution money can buy? Even if they give Hamilton a “short” five-year deal, they’ll still end up paying him over $20 million per year at age 36, which is dumb. Almost as dumb as doing something just to make a splash.
I thought the idiocy was confined to Cafardo and the Globe—after all, this is the guy who spent most of last season defending Bobby Valentine—but alas, both newspapers in town seem to have caught THE RED SOX NEED TO MAKE A MOVE fever. Herald beat man Michael Silverman had a column yesterday headlined, “Flush with cash, Sox need to bust a move.” (Bonus points for the headline’s very current music reference.) Silverman practically begs the Sox to just do something for the sake of doing it:
The car’s been in park, the airbag is deflated, we’ve all been idling here, still stunned over the skid marks left from the last two seasons, but really, it’s time to put the jalopy in drive and get this show on the road again. Conduct a transaction or two that just might set the imagination soaring, get the juices flowing, the sap rising in an offseason that so far feels as if we’ve been thrown some stray scraps left on the cutting board instead of being served a nice, thick and juicy slice of turkey breast.
In fairness, Silverman acknowledges the Gonzalez and Crawford debacles, and says the Red Sox shouldn’t go throwing around bad money (mercifully, he does not mention Hamilton). But the problem is, short of first baseman/catcher/DH Mike Napoli, he doesn’t actually suggest anyone the Red Sox should bust a move on. That’s because he knows what Red Sox GM Ben Cherington knows: the free agent pickings this year are slim. Nobody who was or is available is worth the big money. Red Sox fans get that. The only people who don’t, it seems, are the writers desperate to fill up their column space.