Filling in the gaps, Ben Cherrington searches for a new right fielder in Boston
The dust from a tumultuous 2011 season in Boston has begun to settle. Now, new GM Ben Cherrington will be tasked with erasing this season’s collapse. Outside of solidifying a pitching staff with less of an appetite for fried chicken and beer, he needs to find a replacement for J.D. Drew.
The Boston Herald reported yesterday that Grady Sizemore is being considered for the opening in right field. Say it ain’t so Ben! Really? Sizemore is going to be your first attempt at righting the ship?
No offense to Sizemore. He once showed promise of stardom. He has had a 30-30 season, led the league in runs, plate appearances and doubles at one point or another and is a three-time All-Star. And rounding out his play, he was a hell of a fielder, earning a pair of Gold Gloves.
The knock on Sizemore has never been his skill set. It’s the injury bug that has held him back. Sizemore has missed 50 games or more the past three seasons. The significant time on the DL has limited him to just over 100 games the past two seasons combined.
An oft-injured former star doesn’t seem to be the best solution. An incentive-laden contract of a year or two does make him an intriguing option. That would conjure comparisons to Adrian Beltre’s deal in 2010.
I’d be cautious in linking the two players. Beltre may have had a few down years with the Mariners but at least he was on the field. Granted, he missed significant time in 2009, but other than that he’d played at least 138 games since he began seeing regular playing time, including a full September on his way out of Seattle. Sizemore hasn’t logged any significant September playing time since 2008.
Also consider that Cleveland didn’t pick up his option for 2012. The Indians unwillingness to stick with a player once tabbed a franchise cornerstone can’t be a positive indicator of his health status. In fairness, they may have declined the $9 million extension in hopes of retaining him at a lower salary.
About the best thing Sizemore has going for him is a lack of any other surefire options. Internal candidates like Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish are both serviceable, but neither would have a ceiling like a healthy Sizemore. Reddick showed flashes of brilliance early on this season but a weakness against left-handed pitching was exposed down the stretch. One of them may end up packaged to boost pitching as well.
Apparently Sizemore isn’t even the only aging, injury-prone former superstar that may fill this spot. Whispers of Carlos Beltran patrolling RF at Fenway are pouring in as well. Hopefully, Cherrington shies away from Beltran and super agent Scott Boras. Beltran is certain to command multiple years and wouldn’t dispel any injury concerns.
If they are shopping for past-prime corner outfielders, Magglio Ordonez and Kosuke Fukodome are in the free agent pool. In fact, if they were only shooting for a guy that can play 75 games, maybe Dewey would consider a comeback.
In my humble opinion, there are alternatives to consider. Why not insert someone like Josh Willingham or Michael Cuddyer? Either could at least match Drew’s recent production. Both have topped 30 HR at one point in their careers. Even Cody Ross could offer a platoon option with Reddick.
All they really need is a bottom-of-the-order hitter capable of covering the vast right field in Fenway. One of these less sought after players could leave Boston flexibility for 2013.
The 2013 free-agent class of corner outfielders is much more appealing. Andre Either has often been linked to Boston and would become available. Even teammate Matt Kemp will hit the market. Boston would have to reach far into those deep pockets after his near Triple Crown output but they have demonstrated a willingness to do so time and time again.
In the true fashion of Boston flip-flop media, I think I have come full circle in this article and convinced myself taking a flier on Sizemore isn’t their worst option. A one- or two-year deal for a few million dollars doesn’t seem so outlandish.
Maybe on payroll-strapped teams it wouldn’t be wise, but why couldn’t Boston take a flier here? Worst-case scenario is Sizemore’s injury plague continues and Reddick ends up back as an everyday player. It would still leave them with the opportunity to pursue a bigger name come 2013.
Best case? Cherrington inks a five-tool, 30-30 caliber guy who bats eighth and provides defensive prowess on par with Drew.
Chances are beer prices increase by a quarter regardless of how much they pay a new right fielder. So, hey, why not?