With yesterday’s signings of John Lackey and Mike Cameron for a combined $100 million and the previous signing of Marco Scutaro, theoretically the Red Sox could be done with major moves. The team still needs a third baseman but otherwise, the major holes on the field have been filled.
While I’m not a big Lackey fan, for the short-term I like this deal. For his career, Lackey’s most comparable pitcher according to Baseball-Reference is Josh Beckett and both men have identical career ERA+ at 117. Providing his elbow holds up, and I have to believe the Sox wouldn’t make their largest expenditure ever for a pitcher without ensuring that was case, this rotation is filthy. Throw out a Beckett-Lester-Lackey-DiceK-Buchholz rotation and 1-5 you’re talking about one of the best groups in baseball. Add in Tim Wakefield and whatever reclamation project Theo signs (please please please sign Ben Sheets) and you’re talking a solid 1-6 at least which is absolutely necessary.
I wonder though if yesterday’s moves might reopen the Sox’ attempts to pry away the big bat they’re still lacking, someone like Adrian Gonzalez? Mike Cameron can still play a solid center field, even at age 36, the Red Sox have a plethora of young center field prospects (most of whom are several years away but still) and I wonder if the two signings mean two of the Sox young players might be on the move. If the Sox were to offer to San Diego a package headlined by Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury wouldn’t the Padres have to seriously listen? They’d be receiving two major league players both under team control for at least 4 more years and at very low salaries. Ellsbury’s speed would give him plenty of chances to leg out extra base hits in the spacious Petco Park, and Buchholz is going to be if not a star, very good.
I don’t want to give up Buchholz, Ellsbury I could go either way on, but to acquire a big bat like Adrian, who is still only 26 years old and plant him in the middle of the lineup for the next decade is a pretty appealing thought. If, as the reports are right that Theo is hesitant to deal the young prospects that San Diego would want, (which I agree with him) perhaps giving up young major leaguers that the team isn’t convinced they want to build around, or that they can afford to give up is the better option.
Losing Jacoby would hurt some, the team would still have a hole in left but would be coming out of this offseason so far with the top starting pitcher on the free agent market and one of the best sluggers in the game. Not a bad haul if it could be done. I’d wager that Theo is FAR from done this offseason and there are a number of machinations still in the works. And if Adrian DOESN’T come to Boston, I’m still pretty satisfied with this offseason, I’d still like to see another 30 HR guy in the lineup but for the moment, I’m thinking this looks like a team poised to finish either 1-2 in the AL East.