McAdam: No sense in Sox rushing to action over offseason

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McAdam: No sense in Sox rushing to action over offseason

When the Red Sox last August shed more than a quarter of a billion dollars in salary obligations -- thanks to their blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers -- they vowed a return to a more "disciplined" approach.

Spending wildly for the top free agents -- like Carl Crawford, one of three stars jettisoned in the deal -- had gotten them nowhere fast, the Red Sox concluded. In the future, they would avoid tying themselves to long, nine-figure salaries and instead focus on their own development system which could foster long-term, sustained success.

Fans, disheartened by the wasted resources and underperforming play of Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and others, nodded in agreement. Yes, they agreed, it was time to get back to basics, to stop looking to the free agent market for a quick fix.

Now, apparently, the honeymoon is over.

In the aftermath of the Toronto Blue Jays' landmark deal with the Florida Marlins two weeks ago, Red Sox fans are getting antsy. The signing of Torii Hunter by the Detroit Tigers generated more angst.

"Why aren't they doing anything?"

It seems not to matter that very few teams are "doing anything." The Texas Rangers, whose quick slide out of first place and subsequent disappearance from the playoffs after one game looked like the Red Sox' 2011 fold at warp speed, are in danger of losing both Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton and they haven't done anything. Neither have the Los Angeles Angels, who lost two starting pitchers -- Ervin Santana in trade, Dan Haren to free agency. Other than lose Hunter, that is.

It's not even December and already people seem overly anxious about what the Red Sox are going to look like in April.

This has some to call for the Sox to make a bold move, any bold move. One problem: "Don't just stand there -- do something!" doesn't qualify as as a sound business philosophy. Instead, it reeks of panic, and, let's face it, ignorance.

Sure, the Red Sox have the resources to go out and land Hamilton, a fine player who was the A.L. MVP in 2010 and finished in the top seven in voting two other times in the last five years.

But if there were ever a player who personified the risks inherent in granting mega-contracts, it would be Hamilton. Beyond the very obvious red flag of his documented drug and alcohol addictions, Hamilton has had difficulty staying on the field. In six full seasons, he's played more than 133 games twice.

Given his past personal history, how likely is it that Hamilton is going to become more durable as he enters his age-32 season?

Factor in Hamilton's declining defensive skills and his alarmingly escalating strikeout rate, and it's easy to see Hamilton as a disaster in the making in Boston.

Would he goose ticket sales and get people talking about the Red Sox? You bet. And would the Sox begin experiencing buyer's remorse in another two years or so? Good chance.

Even the moves that have been made -- signing David Ross and Jonny Gomes - have been met with derision. Twitter was full of hostile sarcasm ("Get the Duck Boats ready!") in the wake of those two additions.

Ross and Gomes weren't supposed to be franchise-altering acquisitions, carried out to make them World Series favorites. Rather, they were depth moves, designed to give the Red Sox options in the outfield and behind the plate.

For a lesson on how critical these lower-profile signings can be, recall that some of Theo Epstein's best moves in building the 2004 championship team came in 2003, when he signed the likes of Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, and David Ortiz.

The fact is, it's unlikely the Red Sox are going to make one of those big bold strokes this winter. The two biggest free agent names on this winter's market -- Hamilton and starter Zack Greinke -- each have huge negatives attached and any serious interest shown to either by the Sox would be a sure sign that they have already ditched their vow for discipline.

Nor should the Sox be expected to pull off a giant trade. Having decided (for now) to hold onto Jacoby Ellsbury and unwilling to mortgage their future by selling off their best prospects (Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Matt Barnes), the Sox don't have much with which to offer teams.

(That said, as a Red Sox official recently suggested, the deal with the Dodgers, coupled with a 93-loss season may embolden other teams from floating trade proposals that they otherwise wouldn't. Perhaps that explains the talk of Jon Lester for Kansas City Royals' outfielder Wil Myers).

It's only November, remember. And remember, too, that the last time the Red Sox were bold and made big moves was after the 2010 season, when they "won the winter" by signing Crawford and trading for Gonzalez -- two players they couldn't wait to unload less than 20 months later.

McAdam: Red Sox should pass on this Sale

McAdam: Red Sox should pass on this Sale

BOSTON -- I'm not sure what the Red Sox would have to give up for Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale.

For that matter, I can't say definitively that the two clubs have actually discussed a trade for Chris Sale, though it's logical to assume they have, even in a cursory way.

The White Sox, mired toward the bottom of the A.L. Central and with just one playoff appearance in the last 11 seasons, are said to be "open'' to listening for offers on Sale. That's both their right and their duty.

As for the Red Sox, given that they're a big-market club with plenty of resources and an expectation from a loyal fan base to compete for a championship every season, they're similarly smart to inquire.

Who knows? Maybe the White Sox have had their fill of Sale and ,in a fit of pique, might be desperate enough to take less than full value to rid themselves of a pitcher who's developed into quite the clubhouse lawyer of late.

But my guess is that the White Sox are demanding a lot for Sale. That makes sense, since, beyond his raging sense of entitlement, Sale remains one of the handful of best starters in the game and is under club control for another three seasons after this one.

Whatever the asking price is, however, it's almost certainly too much.

Sure, the addition of Sale might, on paper, make the Red Sox the favorites to win the American League pennant.

Again, on paper. Ask the New York Mets, who owned the best starting rotation in the game when the season began and now sit, uncomfortably, in third place in their own division.

So much for the best-laid plans.

But the focus here is on the cost, however unknown, to obtain Sale.

If obtaining Drew Pomeranz cost the Red Sox Anderson Espinoza, how much more would Sale cost?

Let's assume that the Red Sox consider Yoan Moncada essentially untouchable. That would mean Boston would have to essentially clean out the rest of its prospect inventory. Think: a package like Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers and Michael Kopech, and perhaps more.

Or maybe the White Sox want more established young talent, and have their eyes on Mookie Betts and more.

Argue, if you wish, that pitching is more important than offense, but giving up a leadoff man who's shown indications he could become a five-tool superstar? No, thanks.

There's also the matter of need. Unlike at the beginning of the season, the Red Sox can now lay claim to having a rotation in which every one of the five starters gives them a solid chance to win.

Yes, David Price has underperformed in a big way. But that's likely the result of adjusting to Boston and new surroundings. What are the odds that, at 30, Price has almost overnight permanently devolved into a mediocre starter after finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting just last fall?

Steven Wright has emerged as a consistent starter who's under control for the forseeable future. Rick Porcello, though not flashy, is pitching like the Red Sox envisioned he would when they dealt for him a season-and-a-half ago. Eduardo Rodriguez has overcome injury and delivery issues to fufull the promise he showed as a rookie. And Pomeranz could be an afforable middle-of-the-rotation for years to come.

Is Sale better than each one of them right now? Of course, Price included.

But is the Red Sox rotation so troubled that it must upgrade now or else? No. Is their an obvious weak link begging to be immediately replaced? No.

And this is not Chris Sale, free agent. This is Chris Sale, incredibly expensive trade piece.

What if they stripmined their minor-league system for Sale, and didn't win? Then what? What if they tore up their core of foundational players for Sale, only to find him incapable of surviving Boston?

As I confessed earlier, I'm don't know what the White Sox would want for Sale.

What I do know is that it would, by definition, almost certainly be too much.

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz 'made one pitch that hurt' Red Sox

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz 'made one pitch that hurt' Red Sox

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers:

QUOTES:

"He pitched as we had anticipated at the time of the trade.'' - John Farrell on Drew Pomeranz.

"I had a good curveball and I was locating my fastball a lot better. I was in a lot better counts all night, but I made one pitch that hurt us.'' - Pomeranz on his outing.

"He was able to limit the damage against a very good offensive team. He pitched well enough to win. I just wish we could have put more runs on the board for him.'' - Jackie Bradley Jr. on Pomeranz.

 

NOTES:

* Until Monday night, the Red Sox had won their last six series openers.

* Drew Pomeranz has allowed four or fewer hits in 12 of his 18 starts this season.

* Eleven of Travis Shaw's last 15 hits have been for extra bases.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. had his 25th multi-hit game.

* Sandy Leon is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with runners in scoring position.

* The Red Sox are 21-21 in games decided by two or fewer runs.

* Dustin Pedroia (walk, single) has reached base in 28 straight games.

* Xander Bogaerts has 133 hits through 97 games. Since 1940, only Wade Boggs (134 in 1983; 135 in 1987) and Adrian Gonzalez (135 in 2011) had more.

STARS:

1) Justin Verlander

Verlander has enjoyed a bounce-back season of sorts this year, and the Red Sox got to see it up close Monday night as Verlander limited them a single run over six innings.

2) Jose Iglesias

The former Red Sox shortstop haunted his old team with a two-run homer in the sixth to put the Tigers ahead to stay.

3) Drew Pomeranz

The lefty absorbed the loss, but pitched well enough to win, giving up two runs in six innings while striking out seven.