The Giants won the World Series. That in and of itself has absolutely nothing to do with us, other than two facts: we were one of only four teams to post a winning record against them this past season, and free agency has finally begun.
We declined options on Felipe Lopez and Bill Hall. I like that move on Hall. He proved to be an incredibly key asset this season with all the injuries, but it makes more sense to defer action on him until we get more of a sense of the direction we’ll be taking this winter. We did exercise our option on Atchison. I’m fine with that. He’s not the best reliever in the world, but he is a reliever, and we need those.
Beltre declined his option. That’s about the most surprising news I’ve heard in the last minute. He’s actually not in as good of a spot as he thinks he is. His value is up this offseason because of the awesome season he just had with us. But one of the reasons why he had that awesome season with us is Fenway. As soon as he signs with another team, he doesn’t play in Fenway, and his bat changes. I’m not saying Fenway made him the great slugger he was this past year, but I’m saying it was certainly helpful.
V-Mart and Tek both filed. V-Mart and Tek will, in all likelihood, both be back.
We picked up Papi’s option. There’s an interesting story. Papi spent this past week very publicly expressing a desire for an extension. He didn’t want to return only for one year because all the speculation about the possibility of his decline would return. I see where he’s coming from, and I believe him. We probably will spend all of the first half of next season reading the exact same articles that say the exact same thing they said last year before, lo and behold, he returned to form and a good time was had by all. So if I were him, I’d be tired of all that too. At the same time, I respect Theo’s decision. Theo has his own reasons for only wanting to lock Papi for a year, and he can’t abandon those reasons just because of the media’s obsessive tendencies. Extensions were discussed, but the parties couldn’t agree. Now that the option has been picked up, Papi isn’t upset about it. He told Theo he’s cool with it, in those words. And Theo basically said afterwards that they wouldn’t have picked up the option if Papi weren’t cool with it. The man hasn’t been a free agent since 2002. I don’t think he’s going to be a free agent any time soon. He’ll have another monster year this year, and again, a good time will be had by all.
We picked up Brent Dlugach from Detroit for cash considerations or a player to be named later. He’s basically a career minor league shortstop. He gives us depth, and the transaction isn’t even finalized until April 15, so we get all of Spring Training to see how he does.
Meanwhile, Youk continues to be the picture of versatility and teamwork. He said he doesn’t care where he plays – first base, third base, even shortstop – as long as the team’s needs are met and as long as he gets to stay in the infield. I personally would love to see him just stay put at first. He’s also excellent at third, but at first he’s a cut above everybody.
What could complicate that is the fact that the Padres are going to trade Adrian Gonzalez. That is a verifiable fact. And we are going to be interested. That is another verifiable fact. The problem is that Gonzalez wants a Teixeira-like contract: lots of money and lots of years. The question is whether he’d be worth it, and that depends on how our offseason goes.
Finally, last but most definitely not least, we have our new pitching coach: Curt Young. For all intents and purposes, Tito knew Farrell would be gone, so he and Farrell independently compiled their own lists of good fits. Young was at the top of both lists, and I’m going to trust in whoever makes the top of two different lists like that. Young leaves one sabermetrics-obsessed team for another. He coached for the A’s for the last seven seasons but turned down their extension in favor of free agency to come here. Last year, Oakland had the best ERA in the American League with 3.58. During his seven years, Oakland has an AL-best ERA of 4.03 and an AL-best OPP AVG of .257. They allowed an AL-low 1,062 home runs. John Farrell will be sorely missed, and I really wish he’d stayed on with us because he’s basically the best, period, but if I had to pick someone to replace him, I’d agree with him and Tito. There really isn’t much more to say. Farrell left, we needed a pitching coach, and Young it is. Welcome to Boston.
In other news, the Bruins had a record game this week. We beat the Sabres, 5-2, on Wednesday in an epic contest. But then we lost to the Caps and to the Blues in overtime, which shattered our status as undefeated on the road, which did set a new franchise record. Thomas is undefeated in eight starts this season and is the first goalie in franchise history to be so. We are seven, two, and one overall, second in the division behind the Habs whom we will surely soon surpass. The Pats killed the Vikings, 28-18.
Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene
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