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Playing Pepper - Lester's Next Sox Contract, Mookie-Rusney-Yo, Ranaudo Isn't Washed Up

  • We all have to be glad to hear that the Red Sox plan to spend a lot of the money they saved in the Dodger deal this coming off season.  That said, I would be very surprised if they broke from their norm of emphasizing shorter deals for bigger money.  I would expect them to sign one front of the rotation starter (see below) and one more bat.  I think Pablo Sandoval would be the perfect fit for the Sox.  He's an elite defensive 3B, mashes righties (much needed in our increasingly right handed lineup), and he's only 28.
  • The Sox will sign Jon Lester.  I didn't think I'd every say that, but I think they will.  They want him back, he wants to be back, and he's seen the investments they've already made in improving their offense.  Homer Bailey is making $18-23 million over the lifetime of his contract (6 years with an option).  Justin Verlander is making $20-28 million during his 10-year contract.  When they signed, Bailey was not nearly as good as Lester and Verlander was better.  Lester could make Verlander money given inflation and the slim market this off season, and he could get 7 years.  So the Sox should give him Verlander money for 5 years.  Let's say 5 years for $125 million.
  • Mookie Betts is currently leading the race to start in the 2015 Red Sox outfield.  If Rusney Castillo is really ready and as good as he's paid to be, the outfield will be Betts, Castillo, and Yoenis Cespedes with Daniel Nava spelling all of them and Brock Holt serving as the emergency 5th outfielder.  Meanwhile, Allen Craig will have to hit like that guy with a similar name who used to play for the Cardinals if he doesn't want to just be Mike Carp's replacement.  I don't see Shane Victorino back on the team next year unless the Sox trade one of their top three guys.  Jackie Bradley, Jr. will work things out in Pawtucket and come up as needed.
  • JBJ is going to have a very long major league career and I suspect he'll be a "first division" starter for most of it.  He has the talent to hit major league pitching, but he wasn't ready this year.  He only hit .275 in Pawtucket last year, struck out quite a bit there, and was headed there again this year when he was called up on Opening Day because Victorino was hurt.  
  • I worry that the Sox have tinkered too much with Will Middlebrooks.  Yes, he needs a better strike zone approach, but I think he's preoccupied by that and has lost much of his aggressiveness and power because of it.  I hope he somehow figures it out - and stays healthy.  But I'm not optimistic.
  • The day before his last start, I think most people had Anthony Ranaudo penciled in as the 2015 fifth starter.  Then, after his first really poor outing in the majors, the Sox scribes start harping on his low swing and miss rates and high homer rates.  He's a rookie who throws 91 mph; he might not be a finished product yet.  Give him a break.
  • Why is David Ross starting any games right now?  Shouldn't the Sox ask him to basically be a mentor and coach for these last few weeks and let Dan Butler start when Vazquez is off.  Butler needs the experience and the Sox need to see if he might be the backup next year.
  • If Mookie can hit next year, Brock won't play everyday.  His hitting has been really dropping of the last few months.  He'll have a long career as a solid utility guys but I don't think he stays in the lineup next year if Mookie - or Rusney - can hold down leadoff.  That said, he'll play a lot when others get injured.  I really like him as a super utility guy.
  • The Sox will  have to decide this off season if they want a bullpen filled with the likes of Workman, Webster and Barnes while maybe giving them some spot starts too.  The 2015 rotation will only have room for Rubby De La Rosa and maybe Ranaudo, behind Joe Kelly, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, and veteran-from-trade.  WW&B won't get many more shots though because Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Edwardo Rodriquez (all lefties) are coming up very fast behind them.  They are all in Pawtucket now.  In addition to WW&B, the Sox have Edwin Escobar (lefty starter), Heath Hembree, and Noe Ramirez (righty relievers) all almost ready for the Sox pen.  Do they want young talent out there or vets?
  • Why does Brain Johnson never seem to get mentioned by the media as among the major Sox pitching talents rising through the system?  The NESN pregame recently showed a graphic with all those up and comers and left him out. He's a first round pick with a 1.75 ERA in Portland, just got the call up to Pawtucket (started the year in Salem), and should only get better now that he's not also University of Florida's cleanup hitter.

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