Red Sox might be guilty of out-thinking themselves so far this off-season

You know that kid? You know him. We all do. The one that is sitting in his pram, maybe, and he has a nice toy. It’s a good toy, he has had it for a while and it has served him well, always entertaining. However, as he sits there, he is watching other kids playing with other toys. He lets his toy fall out of the pram, doesn’t bother looking for it, he wants the other kids toys, and nothing else is going to make him happy.

Believe it or not, the Boston Red Sox are kind of like that kid.

The Red Sox are entering one of their more important free agency periods in recent memory, after what can only be described as a very disappointing season. So far, all they have done is cast their own free agents out into the wind, and started courting other teams free agents.

They have basically done nothing to try and keep Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, their two highest profile free agents, in the fold. They have effectively tossed them out of the pram, and they are now coveting other kid’s toys.

The Boston front office should be correctly commended for their superior development process, the same process that has given us an incredible array of superior level stars. Jon Papelbon, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Bucholz and Daniel Bard are just a few of the players that Boston has nurtured to the highest levels. Where Boston falls down, is their often awful free agency dealings.

Boston is way behind many of its rivals when it comes to, in particular, dealing with their own free agents.

It is all too easy to note how old, for example, the Yankees lineup is, with it’s collection of almost forties players on enormous salaries. What does get lost in the wash though, is New York are vastly superior to Boston in terms of playing the free agency game.

When the Yankees covet a free agent player, they invariably get their man. Let’s face it, much as most other MLB fans are in denial, Cliff Lee will probably be pitching in New York in 2011 (and not for the woeful Mets!).

Boston has question marks all over its lineup, all created by the glaring holes left by Martinez and Beltre. Maybe they have an uber-plan, but right now all they are doing is trying to placate its fans with press releases that add up to nothing but complete horse manure.

Theo Epstein went on record this week saying Boston would be happy to have much injured, talented but unproven and streaky Jarrod Saltalamacchia as its full time catcher. Is that so, Theo, and how is that an upgrade over the incredibly consistent Victor Martinez? It’s not even close to being even. With all due respect to Saltalamacchia, it would be a massive slide in talent at the catching position. And, Theo knows it.

Maybe in five years Saltalamacchia will be a superior level catcher. However, we live in the right now, and right now you could make an argument that Martinez is the best offensive catcher in Major League ball, bar maybe Joe Mauer of the Twins.

So why not just pay the man, give him 3-4 years and sit back and enjoy the show?

Boston has also over-thought the whole David Ortiz situation, and created a potential issue in the making for next season. In exercising their one-year option on Ortiz this last week, they have kept the big amiable slugger in Boston for one more year, but have left the door wide, wide open to issues as Ortiz approaches free agency at the end of next season. Why not sign him up for a 2-3 year extension at decent money? Hasn’t he earned the right? Didn’t Boston’s front office declare Ortiz the ‘most clutch hitter that ever lived’ and give him a shiny plaque to affirm that?

Ortiz is coming off a great season, and deserved an extension.

Boston has, once again, decided it is cleverer than everyone else, and has laid the foundations for issues next season. Meanwhile, Theo seems to be asking us Red Sox fans, ‘are you ready for a season of Saltalamacchia at catcher?’

No, no. Not at all Theo.

The Boston front office will continue to over analyze and over-think the free agency market, while other teams swoop in and sign the parts Boston needs to contend in 2011.

You can over analyze yourself to a standstill, and, right now, Boston is doing that better than anyone else in baseball.


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