Sunday, January 29, 2006

Red Sox Almost Ready to Go

It must've been about a week ago when some Yankee fan was telling me, "your team has no centerfielder or shortstop!" Well, that loser can kindly shut up. The Red Sox are gearing up for 2006 and beyond, and I like what I'm seeing.

For me, the first point in the Crisp-Damon debate is as follows: Crisp is the kind of player whose better days are likely ahead, and Damon's are probably in the past. Damon has played through all sorts of injuries over the past few years, and it's gotta catch up to him sometime.

The numbers aren't much different; Crisp had more homers (16-10), while Damon had a better average (.316-.300). Crisp ended with a slightly higher OPS (.810-.805). Both players have above-average speed and cover their fair share of ground in the outfield. To me, it's pretty much a wash; perhaps you even give Crisp a slight edge due to age.

And as for Alex Gonzalez, I think it's a good deal. Many people, including David Pinto, are ripping the guy a new one for being a lousy hitter. First off, the guy played in Dolphins Stadium, one of the biggest pitcher's parks in the game. His numbers should improve in Fenway. Second, perhaps it's worth it for the Sox to have an "automatic out," if the guy's defense measures up. This is not the NL, where the pitcher already gives you a hole in the lineup. The Sox can throw Gonzalez at the bottom, and hope he can show some flashes of power, like when he hit 23 HR in 2004.

Plus, the guy isn't even 30. If he's good, the Red Sox can bring him back. If not, it's just one year and out. Or, the Red Sox can try to get someone at the trading deadline. If they're desperate, they can try to wing it on Cora and Graffanino, which worked for a while last year (at 2B).

The only thing left for the Sox to do is trade David Wells. You never want to have an unhappy Wells out there. I hated the Wells signing from the beginning, and they better get the guy out of there before he starts causing trouble.

After the Damon signing, I said the Red Sox might still be the team to beat. Now, they're even better. As Peter Gammons points out, if Manny is hot, Lowell has a comeback year, and Nixon pulls it together, the Red Sox offense will be as good as last year's.

And let's not forget the revamped bullpen, plus (fingers crossed) a healthy Schilling and Beckett in the rotation.

Epstein and Co. are trying to get the Sox younger and better for the long-term. On paper, it looks like they're doing one helluva job.

-- A little bit of useless info for all you Jayson Stark fans out there: Alex Gonzalez has a .245 average in his first 8 seasons in the bigs. The other Alex Gonzalez (of Toronto and Chicago) in his first 8 years in the bigs -- hit .245!

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