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Posts Tagged ‘Bengie Molina’

We claimed outfielder Jordan Parraz off waivers from Kansas City.  That officially fills out our forty-man roster.  He’s going straight to Triple-A, where he’ll stay unless an injury hits.

And that’s as simple as this week’s news is going to get, so hold onto your hats.  We offered arbitration to Beltre, Felipe Lopez, and V-Mart.  They have until Tuesday to decline.

Beltre is going to decline.  That’s basically a fact.  He has a five-year offer from the A’s on the table, and Theo will not come close to that in terms of years, and that’s not even talking about the cash.  So we’re going to get two draft picks for him.  I was ready for this.  I knew Beltre wouldn’t return.  He was only here for one year, and he had too good a season.  Between those two facts, he was bound to test the market.  And his good season inflated his value.  I say “inflated” and not “increased” because, as I’ve said before, I think a big part of why his season was so good was Fenway Park.  He’s a terrific athlete at the plate and in the field, but if you take away Fenway Park, I doubt you’ll get the same production numbers from him.  And I think Theo also knew he wouldn’t return.  So this is an unfortunate but not surprising turn of events.

Lopez is a Type B free agent, so we’re going to get a sandwich-round draft pick if he signs with someone else.  If he accepts, he’d get a better salary than he would ever be able to get on the open market.  But if we cut him during Spring Training, he’s got nothing.  So he’s going to decline.  A wise move given his poor season last year.

V-Mart will not be returning to Boston.  He’s going to sign a four-year deal worth fifty million dollars with the Tigers.  So he got what he wanted: years with cash.  So the question becomes whether he would have been worth a better offer from us.  We offered him four years for forty-two million dollars.  There’s no question that that should have been enough, so the question then becomes whether we should have matched the Tigers.  A part of me does sort of wish that Theo just offered the extra eight million.  V-Mart is a hitting catcher who also plays first base, and he’s starter material in all three.  There is probably no other active player right now for whom that is true.  We already have a first baseman, but we need a hitter, and we need a catcher, and rare is the opportunity to consolidate the two into one player.  He’s improved his throwing, he’s gotten to know our staff really well, and we just spent all of last season grooming him to take on the starter’s role and be our catcher of the future.  This is not Mark Teixeira; we can revisit the Mark Teixeira episode when we start talking about Adrian Gonzalez.  We’ve kept our fair share of catchers in the starter’s role well beyond the point where they ceased to merit it.  And the reason why I brought up Mark Teixeira is that he’s an example of us in the past offering loads of cash and loads of years to a player who may or may not have been worth it.  (Again, that’s a separate issue, and I’m sure it’ll come up when we get to Adrian Gonzalez.) So given those two facts, it just seems like, if there were ever a time or a player that merited an extra eight million dollars, it would be right now and V-Mart.  There are only maybe three other catchers in the Majors who can hit like he can, and none of them are on the radar.  So we’re going to have to go with a catcher who’s solid behind the plate and compensate for the loss of production with another position.  That would explain our interest in Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, and recently Justin Upton from the D-Backs.

However, from a sabermetrics standpoint, Theo’s decision makes sense.  We all know that Theo has that line, different for every player given our situation at the time, that he absolutely under any circumstances will not cross.  And I guess that was the line for V-Mart.  It’s easy to say that Theo should’ve just kicked in an extra eight million, but it’s possible that that would’ve set off some sort of bidding war, although very small in scale because this is the Tigers we’re talking about, and the Tigers would’ve gone above that, and we wouldn’t have matched that new offer anyway.  The Tigers’ situation is completely different than ours.  They finished the season at .500 exactly, and they’re looking for shining stars around which to construct a team that can compete.  But we need V-Mart more than they do because V-Mart won’t get them to the World Series.  He might get us to the World Series.  But he’s thirty-two years old, so he’s approaching that age, which we all know comes sooner for catchers than it does for other position players.  He’ll probably only be able to catch consistently for the first half of that contract.  And let’s not forget that there are draft picks involved, something that in the past has led to the likes of Lester, Buchholz, Pedroia, Lowrie, and Ellsbury.  So, as you can see, there are all sorts of variables involved that Theo obviously didn’t think merited that kind of money for those years, perhaps because the last one or two of them would see an obvious decrease in performance.

I always say that in Theo we must trust, so we’re going to have to wait and see.  He thinks of every angle.  He places a value on a player before negotiations and sticks to it.  He doesn’t like bidding wars, and honestly neither do I.  All I know is that Salty can not handle the starter’s role.  He just can’t.  That’s confirmed by the fact that we’re already looking for replacements, who could include Bengie Molina, Mike Napoli, and Chris Iannetta.  Ultimately, we need to put a good team on the field every year.  Not just this year and next year.  So if that ability would have been hindered by offering V-Mart extra money, we can’t have that.  As long as the catcher can catch and the hitters can hit, it doesn’t technically matter whether the catcher is the one hitting or the hitter is the one catching.

Speaking of catchers, we didn’t offer arbitration to Tek because we didn’t want to pay three million dollars to a Type B backup catcher.  If he signs with someone else, we won’t get draft picks.  But he won’t sign with someone else.  He’s coming back.

We didn’t offer arbitration to Hall, who wants to go somewhere with more playing time.  Speaking of versatility, there is arguably no player more versatile than Hall.  His average keeps him from starting regularly, but he has played almost every position for us this past year: second base, third base, shortstop, left field, center field, right field, even pitcher.  That, my friends, is a dirt dog answering the call of duty.

As always with arbitration, the week leaves us with lots of questions and almost no answers.  That’s the beauty of the offseason.  It’s a time when teams get the chance to overhaul, and you never know what you’re going to get.  Stay tuned.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Lightning, 1-3, but then beat the Panthers by the same score.  The Devils shut us out, and we’re playing the Thrashers this evening.  The Thrashers are hot right now, so this would be a great time for us to bounce back.  The Pats crushed the Lions, 45-24.

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So much badness happened last night, I’m not even sure where to start.  But no matter where I start, we still lost.  Now, sometimes there are losses that have silver linings.  Maybe a slumping guy hit his way out of it, or a pitcher had a really good outing but it was just a tough night, or we played all-around good ball but couldn’t come up with some extra runs.

Last night wasn’t like that.  Last night was just a fail.

And when I say fail, I actually mean fails.  Plural.  As in two very costly errors.

Doubront tossed four and two-thirds frames.  He gave up seven hits.  He walked two.  He struck out five.  He threw ninety-four pitches.  And two of the four runs he gave up were unearned by his own hand.  Literally.  He made two throwing errors.  When I said in my report card that his inexperience still shows, this is exactly the kind of thing I meant.

Almost all of the badness occurred in the top of the fifth.  Doubront had allowed two runs in the first, one of which was one of his two unearned.  Andrus led off the game with a ground ball that Doubront fired down the first base line.  That one, I can at least understand.  The game barely just started, and he was in a rush.  And two runs is a deficit you expect the offense to handle.  In fact, it was handled almost exclusively by Drew, who, in the bottom of the second, singled in Youk after his double off the Monster and then scored on a wild pitch, which was all we could muster with the bases loaded.  So between the botched leadoff grounder and the wild-pitch run with the bases loaded, something just didn’t feel right.

Indeed, the Rangers tagged him for five runs in the fifth inning.  Two were on base, one man was out, and we had a one-run lead.  Hamilton smacked one right back to Doubront, who thought he had Young at second.  But he hesitated while Scutaro got over to the bag, but his throw was disgusting.  Seriously.  It was disgusting.  It ended up in center field, and both runners advanced to second and third.  So his quick reflexes were great, but if you can’t get your feet under you, it really doesn’t matter.  Maybe he was feeling the one-hour wait during the rain delay; I don’t know.  All I know is that we could have ended the inning right there.  Instead, it was the beginning of the end for us.  Doubront made the mistake, but all of us paid for it.

Doubront left after that, and Fernando Cabrera, freshly called up from Pawtucket, came on.  He proceeded to issue back-to-back walks, the latter of which came with the bases loaded and resulted in a run.  Then Molina’s grand slam, combined with his second-inning single, fourth-inning double, and eighth-inning triple, made him the first visitor to hit for the cycle at Fenway since Andre Thornton of the Indians on April 22, 1978.  His triple bounced off Patterson’s glove and into the triangle, of all places.  Let me tell you, it was not fun to watch.  I don’t enjoy watching us lose, I don’t enjoy the opposition batting around, and I don’t enjoy visitors setting records and completing milestones at our expense.  I just don’t.

That inning was devastating.  It destroyed the game completely.  Think about it.  Beltre just broke the tie in the bottom of the fourth with a towering blast into the back rows of the Monster seats.  It was a breaking ball, he did the kneel, and we had a lead and some momentum, just like that.  We’d score another run in the sixth, when Drew yet again did some manufacturing with a sac fly.  But that was it.  We went on to lose, 8-4.

Some updates on the injury report.  Finally, it’s good news.  Pedroia has now been cleared to start putting pressure on his foot.  He’s out of the boot and into a shoe.  Buchholz finished his one and only rehab start in the minors on Friday.  V-Mart participated in batting practice on Friday from the left side of the plate for the second day in a row.  Beltre, as we know, is back in the lineup; his MRI showed no damage to his hamstring, but he’s still not completely healthy.  And last but certainly not least, Beckett is making a rehab start today in the minor leagues and could return after this.  And he’s been good, too.

So what’s Doubront’s fate? He’s going back to Pawtucket as soon as Buchholz is ready to go.  That could be as early as today, since Buchholz will probably start on Wednesday.  Speaking of Wednesday and therefore the schedule, we have two more games at home against Texas before we take our big road trip to the west coast.  That starts Monday, so get ready for a week and a half of late starts.  We’re visiting Oakland, Seattle and LA.  Then we have an off day before going home.  So we’ll have to gear up and build some momentum in this series before that road trip.  Not to mention the fact that we’re six and a half games out of first, the most we’ve been out since May 29.  We’ve lost seven of our last nine.  We’re regressing, and it’s not good.  The best we can do now is split with Texas, and we need to make sure we do that.  Lackey will face Cliff Lee tonight, so he’s got work to do.  Hopefully he’ll get it done.

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