Boston Red Sox Ben Cherington is trying to redeem himself after last offseason, which was lowlighted by the hiring of Bobby Valentine. Cherington was able to jettison massive amounts of payroll to the Dodgers in August and can put his own stamp on the Red Sox in 2013. He appears to have learned from some of Theo Epstein’s misstep’s involving long term contracts. These are the Red Sox major additions leading up to Spring Training 2013.
Shane Victorino – $39 million contract for three years: The “Flyin’ Hawaiin” was an integral part of the Phillies postseason teams from 2007 through 2011. Victorino is a proven leadoff or number two hitter, with double digit steals and homers every season since 2007. Victorino is a heart and soul type player who should thrive in the electric atmosphere of a Boston pennant drive, the polar opposite of Carl Crawford. His presence as a player other teams hate has been missing from the Sox the last two years. He is a solid defender who can transition to leftfield if Jacoby Ellsbury remains in center.
Mike Napoli – $26 million contract for three years: This deal makes little sense. Napoli’s greatest value is offensive production as a catcher. The Red Sox already have a less expensive power hitting, high strikeout, relatively low batting average catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty’s slugging numbers the last two years are a small step down from Napoli’s career averages, though Napoli had a great 2011. If the Sox plan to play him at first base, his career averages are that of an average starting first baseman.
Ryan Dempster – $26 million contract for two years: Dempster has been a remarkably consistent pitcher for a poor team the last five years. After being traded to the Texas Rangers, he had two rough starts, but bounced back and pitched well down the stretch. Dempster is fantastic addition to the Red Sox rotation. He profiles as a dependable number two or three starter.
Koji Uehara – $4.25 million contract for 1 year: The Japanese import, by way of Texas, brings a sub one W.H.I.P. from 2010 to 2012 to the Sox bullpen. Uehara is not a classic closer and is better suited to a setup role, but does boast a career average of over a strikeout per inning. Bullpen statistics are difficult to predict from year to year, but Uehara has been consistent and is an unheralded signing that could bring stability to a team tired of kicking away late inning leads.
Stephen Drew – $9.5 million contract for one year: The words Drew and healthy are oxymorons to all who stride Yawkey Way. Perhaps Stephen can be the first Drew brother to live up to a Scott Boras contract in Boston. While the Red Sox wait one more year for Xander Bogaerts to arrive, signing Drew to one year deal makes sense. He has the potential to be a solid shortstop, from 2007 through 2010 he played in over 130 games with double digit homers and 60 plus R.B.I.
Joel Hanrahan – Received in trade from Pirates: The hard throwing righty has rung up 76 saves in 84 chances the last two years. His bouts of wildness may give Sox Nation an occasional case of agita, but he averages far more than a strikeout per inning. How Hanrahan responds to adversity and whether he can close games during a pennant race will go a long way in determining his and the Sox fate in 2013.
Ben Cherington’s grade to date this offseason is a solid B. He has signed capable players while avoiding long term deals.
Follow Kevin Feeney at the Sports Provocateur http://www.sportsprovocateur.com/
and follow on twitter @kofeeney