Is Cherington Being Too Patient with Free Agents?
There are holes in the Red Sox that need to be repaired and Ben Cherington doesn’t appear to be to concerned about it. While he’s made a few moves this offseason, he has yet to address the starting pitch needs as well as continue to bolster the bullpen. It is his first year on the job as full time GM and we often wonder if he’s really the one in charge. Regardless, there are plenty of options out there for him to pursue and one has to wonder if the patient approach is the right way to go about it.
Let’s take the bullpen fiasco for starters. Back in November we heard that the Red Sox were talking to what seemed to be every possible closer on the market. Slowly Heath Bell, Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton got scooped up and now we hear Cherington is still in talks with Ryan Madson, Francisco Cordero along with discussing trade possibilities for Andrew Bailey and Joakim Soria. There are still some great options out there, but for how long.
The same holds true for starting pitching help. The price tag for Gio Gonzalez is continuing to increase and it may be too rich for the Sox. Shouldn’t this decision have been made a while ago rather than continue to kick the tires? Go out and sign one of your top two choices. Take the Roy Oswalt example. He’s willing to take a one-year deal and now has a pile of interest from other teams. Sccop in there Ben and be aggressive. Hiroki Kuroda is now also willing to take a one-year deal and while I was against signing him at first, a one-year commitment would be satisfactory.
What about a guy like Paul Maholm? He’s rumored to being courted by Theo and the Cubs but from what we know now, Cherington has yet to look at him as an option. He would fit nicely into that buy low, get a high return type of player that Ben has said he’ll live by this winter.
Alex Speier of WEEI reports that Cherington has said he’s willing to wait for “the market to come to us.” Speier also goes to mention that the club “isnt’ close on anything” either a free agent or a trade. Not exactly re-assuring words to hear from a first year manager to a fan base that is patiently waiting for something big to happen so we can continue to have renewed faith.
Speier does make an impelling argument that patience has paid off in the past. He makes note in the same article that Adrian Beltre was signed by the Red Sox in January as was Bill Mueller in 2003. Then there’s the fact that David Ortiz was signed in January back in 2003 and it’s safe to say he turned out to be worth the wait.
But all those players are offensive gurus. The Red Sox still have one of the best offensive lineups in the game and it’s not the bats that needs the help. Rather it’s the pitching, namely the starting rotation.
Speier does reveal that two contracts that were signed in January in year’s past turned out to be down right scary. Joel Pineiro signed a one-year deal with Boston and he was never retained for any further services. The legendary John Smoltz was also inked in the New Year and he never made it through a full season in Boston.
So history doesn’t prove it’s worth betting the farm on.
When you consider the lack of top notch pitching in this year’s free agent class, throw in how other AL teams have beefed up both offensively and defensively (namely the Texas Rangers and LA Angels), pitching is now becoming more important than ever before. There are many AL teams that are attempting to improve their rotations and bullpens through free agency and with a scarce talent pool, those who wait my get left with scraps.
It’s also worth noting that the New York Yankees haven’t done much so far. While they could be waiting for King Felix to become available or surrender to Billy Beane’s demands and acquire Gio Gonzalez for three or four prospects, they will likely rear their ugly heads at one point, impacting the marketplace.
While Cherington waits for the market to come to him, he could get passed by. He already has an angry mob starting to settle in on Yawkey Way and if he doesn’t improve this club, they will get fiercely upset. Let’s hope his preaching of patience will pay off, otherwise it could be a long year for the new GM. Have I said ‘welcome to the job Ben’ yet?
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