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Ask Nick: Questions to stoke the hot stove

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  January 14, 2014 03:00 PM

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I was wondering why there seems to be a fanaticism from the Sox fan base about the Red Sox not spending money on players? I am not suggesting they make careless moves, but I am very surprised that the fan base is so reticent about high priced free agents. Ticket prices are not coming down so do they really want John Henry to make more money rather than invest it on the field?
Scott, Alexandria, Va
I think after a few years of getting burned on high-priced players, people wanted a different approach and they got it. Itís not like the Red Sox didnít spend money. Some would say they overpaid for shorter terms, which is essentially their philosophy. Shane Victorino could have signed a 4-year, $44 million deal with Cleveland but he opted for three years at $39 million with Boston. Mike Napoli turned down bigger offers both last season and this offseason, but stayed with Boston for a shorter term at bigger dollars per season.

So after being burned on Carl Crawfordís 7-year, $142 million deal; Josh Beckettís four-year, $52 million extension; Adrian Gonzalez long term deal (which may have paid off, but his personality didnít really fit), then they went to a different approach. It worked swell the first year. Weíll see how it works going forward. And if it doesnít, Iím sure youíll see them take a chance on a longer-term deal with someone.

I think the fan base now wants to see players from the farm system come up and become stars like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz. As for John Henry, I just donít see how any Red Sox fan could question his commitment to the team. Heís made a lot of money on the Boston Red Sox, but heís spent a lot of money to make that money. Since he bought the team, not sure of the exact order, but the Red Sox have likely spent more money than anyone except the Yankees during that time.

In a very short time, Ben Cherington has erased the fondness we had for Theo Epstein. The team is now positioned to be very strong for the present and future. The only weaknesses, as I see it, for the present and future are 1.) an ace (Lester is a 2 in my opinion); 2. a power bat in the outfield; and 3.) a true leadoff bat/base stealer to replace Ellsbury. Do you see the Sox addressing 0, 1, 2, or 3 of these for 2014?
Allen, Flagstaff, Ariz.
I think the Red Sox are always looking for that big splash even though they havenít made one yet. Giancarlo Stanton is always on their mind, and Iím sure theyíve explored this quite a bit, but have met with rejection. Obviously, Xander Bogaerts is off limits and Iím guessing Henry Owens might also be in that category. I think Matt Kemp has always been in their sights, but for the moment the uncertainly about his leg makes it difficult to consider a deal for him until his status is a little clearer.

So itís a nice position to be in. On the one hand you have enough chips to do a lot, and on the other, you have a good enough team not to have to do anything. You could take some chances, maybe extend yourself and give up some of your younger players for proven veterans, or you could just stay the course and react when you need to react. Theyíve decided to stand pat right now, but that could change.

I am not a huge fan of Andre Ethier and his contract is too much money and too many years. However, he has great stats against RHP and his stats improve away from Dodger Stadium. If the Dodgers eat some money, he might be the perfect platoon with Gomes in left and also providing insurance in case of a Victorino injury or a Bradley stumble. Any sense of what the Dodgers would ask for Ethier?
Ben, Phoenix
I believe that at some point, one of the Dodgers outfielders will be weeded out, whether it be Matt Kemp once heís healthy or Ethier. What people donít realize about Ethier is that heís not a bad center fielder, so if you felt Jackie Bradley needed more seasoning, Ethier could also play center. Personally Iíd rather have Kemp because heís righthanded and I think he would be a monster at Fenway if healthy. But the Ethier suggestion is valid and Iím sure his name has come up in general conversations the Red Sox have had with the Dodgers. And of course we know that Dustin Pedroia is a close friend and would love to have him in Boston.

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