Armchair GM: Rick’s Take


My GM wish list, of course, is all dependent upon needs and whta happens by next Tuesday. We all have our baseball favs who we have followed for a few years and some of mine have surfaced. I’d be looking at what is mid to low to no price options to plug a few holes, add some protective depth or to have hanging around the sun flower seeds in case a sumptuous deal is consummated.

Under the famed “You never have enough pitching” category is Grant Balfour. Balfour closed for the A’s the last two seasons and has been a major league staple for about a ten or so years, much of which was in the set-up slot. Balfour has experience on the “Big Stage” with several playoff teams, including AL East opponent the Tampa Bay Rays. For his last six seasons Balfour has taken the ball on an average of 64 games with a rather steady line with a 2.76 ERA in 383 innings. Oct 10, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning in game five of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game at Coliseum. The Detroit Tigers defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Balfour is an insurance policy. If for some reason Koji Uehara has issues, Balfour could opt into the closer role. Balfour would also provide some depth into the bullpen and that is always a necessity. Hopefully, it would not be a repeat of our last adventure with an A’s closer. The question is the price tag. In the neighborhood of 2/18M. With the development of Brandon Workman and the potential of Rubby De La Rosa, Balfour would be further down on my GM wish list, but still a tempting tidbit to add to a bullpen that dramatically improved over 2012.

Boone Logan is another of that prime commodity that is the rib eye version of pitching – a left handed relief pitcher.

Logan has been a staple for the last three seasons for that team that resides south of Boston and is certainly on a first name BFF list with David Ortiz. Logan has now adopted that tag know as “specialist,” which means he is suppose to instill fear in each and every left handed batter. With Andrew Miller returning from the DL just maybe Logan is worth a quick peek? I’m sure NY would hold onto this commodity, but nothing wrong with giving Cashman a few trips to the antacid bottle.

While on the Yankee slant how about a look see at Joba Chamberlain. No Sox fan needs a breakdown on Chamberlain as he is a personal favorite here in The Nation. Chamberlain never lived up to his promise or is it typical Yankee hype? Health and personal issues kept him off the Hall of Fame train. I can’t see much of a market for Chamberlain and he might be worth my trend, which is examining the flotsam and Jetsam looking for something that may stand out. I’d take a run at Joba. Sep 27, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain (62) pitches against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

As far as going to the south side how about old friend Rich Hill? Hill was a gas can with the Cleveland Indians, but he had a nice season in Boston a few years back. I’d take him as one of those invitee’s that usually end up in Pawtucket until the need surfaces.

The rotation is fairly set. Although Clay Buchholz appears to be on a casting call for The Walking Dead, Just maybe he may actually have his “injuries” cured with a nice four month break. With Allen Webster, Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes on the fast track the promote from within mantra is the way to go.

What happened to Kurt Suzuki in 2013? His slash was .232/.290/.337. Was it a blip? Nope. Appears to be a trend since it mirrors 2011 and 2012. Early in his career Suzuki was a mainstay for the A’s catching 528 games between 2008-11. In that span Suzuki displayed some reasonable power with 42 home runs and was not prone to excessive strike out totals. With Ryan Lavarnway and David Ross in the fold Suzuki is an option in case Jarrod Saltalamacchia exits. 2013 showed the need for catching depth almost as much as pitching depth. With the potential of Salty waving bye bye the Sox may just be in a position to have catching by committee.

Is Jackie Bradley ready to play a 150 games? Defensively he can play with the best of them but you also must hit. That is the big question for CF with the strong possibility Jacoby Ellsbury wanders elsewhere. So far the Sox will mix and match with the usual suspects – Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes – taking over LF jointly or Nava occasionally going to RF. Ryan Kalish, a perpetual attendee of the DL list, will once again surface in spring training, and may get a shot. And speaking of shots (yeah…a cheap shot) , just maybe Bryce Brentz will get a long look in spring training. Shane Victorino, he of Gold Glove, is mentioned as a possible Ellsbury replacement in CF. So a quandary does exist. What are the options?

There is the more pricy versions such as Curtis Granderson. His strikeout total would fit right in with the Sox 2013 lineup. In the past Granderson almost reached the magical 200K plateau and with that prodigious K total comes a batting average that has shown a downward spiral the last few years. A healthy Granderson hits home runs. Lots of home runs. But he also 33 years old, has a draft pick attached and will be looking for beaucoup bucks. I’d pass.

Carlos Beltran is the next in line for a potential big name OF replacement. Beltran is also qualified and will come with a heavy contract requirement. He can hit, field and still motor a bit but somehow an outlay of three years or more just does not cut it for me.

Shin-Soo Choo is a younger option than Beltran. He fits the Sox model of being an on base machine. Choo has some good power (21 going long in 2013) and will walk and has a Victorino propensity for getting plunked. The downside is he is a determent against left handers and his glove work is a bit shaky at times. Choo was also qualified and will be looking for a longer term deal. Another player that is attractive but somewhat out of the established business model. Sep 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) bats during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

There are some toss it against the wall and see what sticks possibilities for the outfield.

Rajai Davis is one of the few players who could out steal Ellsbury. Davis had 45 steals in only 108 games and his speed is his big selling point. The downside is Davis is a career .268 bat with just about nil in the power department. His defense is in the acceptable range. Looking at Davis is looking at Quintin Berry with a bit more pop. I’d take a look at Davis as a potential 4th or 5th outfielder.

Another option for CF is once budding star Chris Young. How potential has sunk. With the A’s this past season Young went further down the baseball toilet to the point where his average has sunk to the famed Mendoza Line. Young is still young (pun intended) and did have a remarkable resume while with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Is he worth a look?

Jeff Francoeur is the model of inconsistency. His productive season of 2011 with the Kansas City Royals got him a huge payday and a world of scorn when he sank. Last season it was the baseball gulag for Frenchie as he was released and then picked up by the going nowhere San Francisco Giants, for whom he pounded out a slash line of .194/.206/.226. Another one that may be worth a look. Probably a very, very short look.

Can the Sox finally get Michael Young? How much is left in this vets tank? Man can still hit as he displayed in LA/Philly with .276, but zilch power. IMO Young is now a backup player and probably worth a go if the price is right. His range is now limited and I doubt you will see much of him at short but he is a vet with some good plate instincts. A vet that may or may not help with the development of Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts.

My big move as GM would be to examine the potential for acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins. Another player of interest would be Billy Butler of Kansas City. Both represent the right hand power threat that the Sox long cherish. With a productive farm system I would explore the possible trade implications.

Otherwise my moves would be to add some bullpen depth, examine what catching is available , look for an outfield option with the assumption Ellsbury leaves, see what mix and match is available for the infield in case Stephen Drew moves on and insure that payroll remains manageable.

I’m all for holding on to draft picks so I’d have to be blow away by a FA, and there are few of those this time around. I’d also look internally as much as possible since the farm system did a nice contribution for 2013.