Today marks the beginning of the Winter Meetings in Major League Baseball. As a result, I have a fever…and the only cure is baseball talk.
The Miami Marlins have gone fishing this winter and already reeled in two big catches on the free agent market. Snatching up both Heath Bell and Jose Reyes should make the Fish better. But how much have they improved over their opposition in the NL East? Last year Philly posted a record of 102-60 and Miami finished in last place in the division, 30 games behind Doc Halladay and co. A quick glance at projected WAR numbers for Reyes and Bell in 2012 reveals that when combined, these two should give the Marlins a 14 win advantage over their 2011 season. I’m not sure how much truth there is in that, be it positive or negative for Miami. But either way, the Marlins’ name and ballpark change won’t be the only reasons to watch baseball on South Beach this summer.
2012 Major League Baseball Tickets
Theo Epstein’s first free agent acquisition as GM of the Cubs has already happened. No, it wasn’t Albert Pujols , nor was it Prince Fielder. David DeJesus got the honor actually. Being a Red Sox fan, I have been long privy to talks of Theo coveting DeJesus, so this signing comes with little surprise. What would be surprising is if Epstein goes the whole offseason without a big splash signing like the mentioned Marlins acquisitions, or Pujols or Fielder.
That brings me to think of, to dream of, to hope for an offseason push from my hometown team, the Boston Red Sox. Obviously last year was a disappointment. As a fan, I want to be the one enjoying chicken and beer during the games and not the pitching staff I root for. Terry Francona was ousted, the aforementioned Epstein jumped ship, staff were blamed for conditioning problems and most recently, the Sox hired one of the most controversial managers to manage in the last decade. See my comments on the Bobby V hiring here: http://thesportsjury.com/mlb/valentines-day-comes-early-for-the-red-sox/
At any rate, Boston has had its uprising from the mismanagement of an all-star laden team. Heads rolled, there was much turnover in personnel. But the pressure is still on. The BoSox, one of baseball’s most storied franchises and perhaps its most scrutinized and they need to win. This is about retribution but also about rebuilding more generally. The fanbase isn’t the resilient one I grew up with. This is a fanbase full of pink hats, of bandwagoners who would rather root for a winner of whatever sport than a loser of their favorite sport.
These larger ideas aside, I think the Sox need to go get a pitcher and an outfielder. New GM Ben Cherington should also be taxed with re-signing David Ortiz and trading the clubhouse cancer, whoever that may be. Josh Beckett for a heavy hitting right handed right fielder anyone?
Oh, and when does compensation come to Boston for Theo leaving?
Another interesting tid-bit surrounding the Sox somewhat is the reemergence of Dan Duquette as a GM of an MLB franchise. As much credit as Epstein gets for pulling the Sox out of their 86 year World Series drought, Duquette deserves about the same. The team was largely compromised of Duquette players in 2004, so the man knows how to build a team. What he might be incapable of, however, are astute mid-season moves that are the hallmark of the 2004 WS winning Sox. With Manny Ramirez coming out of retirement to serve a 50 game suspension (which means a third of his asking price basically vanishes) and the man who hired Manny to his once famed 160MM+ contract at the helm of the Orioles, the prospects look good for Manny being Manny in Baltimore.
Where do you think the pieces will move at this year’s Winter Meetings? Any thoughts on my reflections, or thoughts of your own? Where will CJ Wilson end up? Will King Felix be traded? Are the Marlins doing enough to come out of the cellar of the NL East? Let me know what you think, it is Hot Stove time after all.
Whats Your Verdict?