So you have to give Ben Cherington some credit. He isn’t standing around with his hands in his pockets in Nashville watching the parade go by. He and Boston management clearly have a plan and they’re executing against it. I’m just not certain I’m entirely on board nor fully understand the logic.
Today the Sox bagged Shane Victorino, a player who like Mike Napoli had a miserable 2012 when compared to his career numbers. Victorino, 32, will likely be signed to a three-year $39 million contract with the Red Sox pending a physical. Sound familiar? If you’re playing connect the dots you don’t need a compass to get from point A to point B over the past two days. Boston is once again going after players who have had subpar years and overpaying for them in hopes of a return to normalcy and consistency once in a Red Sox uniform.
Even the talking heads on MLB Network at the Winter Meetings are perplexed by the bookend deal in which two players have been paid more money after down seasons when baseball reason and a long historical precedent dictates that players having strong seasons going into free agency are rewarded.
The dead eye realist in me says, “So we’re gonna roll the dice again with players that appear to be on their downside and expect a different result?” The sunny optimist in me says, “I like Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. A couple of years ago I would have loved these deals. They’re in their their early thirties so what’s the problem?”
Certainly with the signings Boston has effectively reduced their exposure by staying away from long-term deals and paying enough to put a team together that looks more like Boston’s grinders of the past. Victorino, Napoli and David Ross in particular are known for wearing pitchers down by going deep into counts and being selective.
Time will reveal if the short-term payouts present a problem. I’m sitting firmly on the fence. Read Conor Duffy’s piece on the Victorino signing here to get the full rundown.
Boston has likely closed the book on their 2013 outfield pursuits. Barring any craziness between now and Opening Day the starting outfield will be comprised of Jacoby Ellsbury in centerfield, Victorino in right and Jonny Gomes in left. The oft injured Ryan Kalish again gets the cold shoulder. With Kalish and Daniel Nava in platoon roles, it’s highly unlikely that either Cody Ross or Ryan Sweeney will be seen in a Boston uniform again. Josh Hamilton? Fuggedaboutit.
Looking even further out, Victorino – who plays both right and centerfield – provides additional insurance if he rebounds when Ellsbury is almost certainly either traded or walks after his contract expires in 2013. Victorino’s presence in the last two years of his contract will afford the team more breathing room as they develop outfield prospects Jackie Bradley Jr.and Bryce Brentz.
Baby, can’t stay, you got to roll me
And call me the tumblin’, roll me and call me the tumblin’ dice
- Tumbling Dice, The Rolling Stones