What I found amazing about the ST. Louis Cardinals is the number of home grown players on their roster. Like any successful business they look to promote within first. This is sound bottom line fiscal strategy when you have an exceptional player development history. That has been a Cardinal trademark since the time that Branch Rickey fellow was their GM.
How good has baseball operations been for the Red Sox? Seems they have done a rather decent job during the Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington regime. Sound drafts, talent from the farm to the MLB roster and, of course, some valuable trade chips when the need arises.
In Boston star power sells – or at least that was the mantra that seemed to be tossed around by some of the hierarchy. Hence you wander off for an Adrian Gonzalez or a Carl Crawford. You overpay with both talent and money. Sometimes you do hit the occasional home run in the risk taking such as Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and even Josh Beckett leap out. On the free agent front we all saw what a Shane Victorino can do. That FA pool always is a risk both for talent level and emotional stability in an under the microscope market. Even a baseball bon vivant like David Wells spoke out about the Boston “pressure.” And sometimes you have a baseball angel like Magic Johnson to correct your mistakes.
You have the best prospect this franchise has had in decades and he happens to play SS. Let him play. Even in that small sample Xander Bogaerts has shown a level of plate discipline that is rare. Then you stick Will Middlebrooks at third for the season and see what happens. These are two players developed within your system and send a strong signal to those on the cusp of the future that you have a real future – and not trade fodder or shunted aside.
You want to reward players with contracts do it with known commodities such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli. We have already seen what a venture outside the box (Gonzo/Crawford) can do. For those four you have some options, but all four would certainly make the 2014 season a wee bit brighter on the repeat factor. However, it is always about the money. And that money factor has to influence who is expendable. Seems some baseball versions of Sophie’s Choice are present. Someone will stay and someone will go.
For Stephen Drew you already have someone ready to step in. Do it. Let X-man play. And if the Ellsbury thing gets into Crawford contract land then give Jackie Bradley the chance. Let him play. If you can get Ellsbury in that five year time frame then go for it. He’s earned it. For Salty you have a young (28) player who could give you a solid three or four years. If Carlos Ruiz can get 3/26 you have a market value set. Do it. Forget the far more pricey Brian McCann. Napoli wants to stay. let him. Forget Mike Carp and Daniel Nava at first. Finish off that initial contract and see if he really wants to stay. If not, back to the others.
The next few weeks will tell all. How serious were the Sox with any of their free agents? The rumor mill will certainly supply multiple option but for me, make some decent offers and if it works fine. If not give some of the kids a chance to play.