I don't agree with your "best plan" for several reasons:
- I don't think it's realistic to expect a billion dollar corporation to throw in the towel on a season;
Newsflash: they already have, but did enough to convince many of you otherwise. We are pretenders and nothing more. Also, my plan did make us better in 2013, in fact, I think even better than what we have now.
- I don't think it's necessary, either; we disagree on the upside of this team. I think my upside (86-90 wins) could make the playoffs, and if Buch and Lester return to form this team could win it all. Not will, not a high probability, but could. And I think to achieve that without sacrificing picks/prospects would be a great achievement;
My top plan did not invole signing any FAs that cost us a pick. It did involve a trade of some prospects to get J Upton or B Anderson, but by trading away Ellsbury, Breslow and Salty, some of those prospects would have been replaced.
- Younger FAs? How many <30 FAs are there? Ever? The oldest positional player signed (3 years), Victorino, will probably be one of the fittest and fastest guys on the team. Napoli - assuming he's signed - would be a 33-year old first baseman when his contract runs out. The rest are 1-2 year contracts. That's just not a lot of risk, IMO;
Yes, there were younger FAs than the ones we signed. Victorino may already be in the midst of a decline, and while he is very fit, his type of profile do not normally age well.
It's not about risk. I understand the advantage of short contracts. My point was that Dempster and Napoli do nothing to help us in 2014 or 2015, except to get out of the way for our prospects. To me, that is a lame argument.
- Finally, trade whom, exactly, for "players near their prime and under team control for 3+ years". Players like that command top, healthy talent with some control themselves. All we have that would bring in "players near their prime and under team control for 3+ years" are Pedroia, Lester and Buchholz. I would not trade them now...they can contribute for us for a few more years. Ells? I agree with your judgement about trading now cum-pick (assuming another team assumes they will make a qualifying offer, of course) but the Sox think they have a chance bettered with him. And I agree.
I gave several very specific examples of who to trade for B Anderson, Upton, and even Myers or Stanton when I heard they were trade bait. I realize it cost us prospects, but the guys we would have gotten would have helped us much more in 2013 than anyone we got, but more importantly, they'd be in the peak of their prime by 2015 (except maybe Myers might still be pre-prime).
Simply put, the plan should have been to...
1) Build up the farm by trading players who will not be here in 2014 and maybe some by 2015 (Elssbury, Breslow, Salty, Bailey, Miller...)
2) Keep all draft picks by not signing big-named FAs, but if we were going to spend this many millions on a weak FA class, at least sign a guy like Hamilton or A Sanchez who, although hamilton will be past prime for his last years, will still be highly prodiuctive in 2015 and beyond. (perhaps worth losing a pick over).
3) Sign younger FAs that may be gambles, but who will be in their primes by 2014 and 2015. (I suggested McCarthy at $25M/3 and A Pagan at $41M/4, but also think $82M/5 for A Sanchez would have been a move that was better than what we did.)
4) Sign some 1 year players like Uehara, and maybe a couple 2 year deals like D Ross & Gomez.
Fans would be just as happy.
We'd be better than we are for 2013.
We'd be much better going into 2014 and beyond.