Playing nine innings while wondering how often Masahiro Tanaka‘s pitched to the score while going 24-0 last season …
1. Under different circumstances, Shin-Soo Choo might be heavily coveted by the Red Sox. The Reds’ leadoff hitter last season reached base at a .423 clip last season, with an NL-best 112 walks; David Ortiz led the Red Sox in OBP at .395. Choo has power (21 homers), decent speed (20 steals, but in an inefficient 31 attempts), and is capable enough defensively that Dusty Baker was comfortable using him in center field. Unfortunately, he’s represented by Scott Boras, who also reps Jacoby Ellsbury, and it’s hard to figure on the Sox signing one Boras client to replace another, especially when Choo’s asking price is said to be in the range of Jayson Werth‘s $126 million deal.
2. If the Red Sox have any interest whatsoever in Mark Trumbo and his .299 career on-base percentage, I’ve completely misunderstood everything Cherington stands for. And I don’t think I have. Trumbo is not Napoli — OK, he strikes out a ton and goes on homer binges from time to time. Perhaps he’s even strolled Boylston Street shirtless before. But he’s pretty much the opposite of Mike Napoli when it comes to working counts and submitting consistently high-quality at-bats, even if they end with a third strike. And that’s a huge difference.
3. For as many words as I’ve spent on the topic recently, no, I don’t ultimately expect the Red Sox to trade for Giancarlo Stanton. If the Marlins make him available, there are teams such as the Rangers that have as many prime prospects and probably a greater willingness to part with them. It wouldn’t surprise me if they parted with Jurickson Profar. It would change my entire perspective of the universe if the Red Sox even considered moving Xander Bogaerts. But I also must note this: I remember the names of those who told me the Padres would never trade Adrian Gonzalez, and they’re saying the same thing now about Stanton. I guarantee you this much: The Red Sox will inquire.
4. Is it possible that we’re exaggerating the negative effect the original Adrian Gonzalez trade had on the Red Sox? The Padres didn’t exactly hit the jackpot with the deal — Casey Kelly has a 6.21 ERA in the majors and a new scar on his elbow and Anthony Rizzo was dealt away quickly to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner. Only Reymond Fuentes, who blossomed as a prospect last season with a .330 average between Double A and Triple A, is in a position to help the Padres in ’14. While Gonzalez proved to be an uninspiring, charisma-challenged figure — a clubhouse lawyer and the opposite of a leader — he was productive, and his presence was the whole reason the Red Sox were able to dump Carl Crawford (now there’s an inexcusable acquisition) and Josh Beckett on the Dodgers.
5. I agree with Buster Olney’s point — via Tyler Kepner — that it’s worth considering whether the 10-player limit should be lifted on the Hall of Fame ballot because there’s a pending backlog of deserving candidates. But I’d also suggest that leaving Rafael Palmeiro and Jack Morris off the ballot — and Olney says he will vote for both — would open up room for the more deserving likes of Curt Schilling, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell, for whom he says there is no room. Until you’re allowed to vote for more than 10, it’s necessary to be more discerning.
6. The more one looks at the Red Sox’ possibilities this hot-stove season, the more it becomes apparent that so much depends on what Napoli chooses to do. Have to figure it remains their priority to bring him back — and who knew that they should have stuck with the three-year, $39-million deal in the first place? But if he gets, say, four years elsewhere, it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox matching that, which would put some other pieces in motion, including possibly opening something up in the outfield for Carlos Beltran, with Daniel Nava moving to first base. But before they sign an outfielder, it makes sense to be certain of Napoli’s plans. He should be the priority.
7. I would have voted for Jose Iglesias for AL Rookie of the Year. His play in the first half of the season (.367 in 199 plate appearances, dazzling defense) was relevant in the early days of this team’s redemption. And after he was traded to Detroit, where he provided stability defensively, it turned out that his play in the postseason helped the Red Sox get to the World Series.
8. At the risk of having Boras laugh maniacally until it gets uncomfortable and then embarrassing, the Red Sox should approach Xander Bogaerts about a deal similar to the six-year, $17.5 million contract Evan Longoria signed with the Rays after his first partial season.
9. As for today’s Completely Random Baseball Card:
It’s ridiculous enough that Dwight Evans spent just three years on the Hall of Fame ballot before getting bounced with 3.6 percent of the vote in 1999. A career like his — 382 homers, eight Gold Gloves, a .370 on-base percentage and .840 OPS in 20 seasons — deserves the respect of careful consideration. And now it deserves further consideration — you don’t need to make his Cooperstown case with the depth and detail that Bill James once did to recognize that he should be on the Expansion Era ballot ahead of the likes of Dave Parker right now. I want to still believe Dewey will get his due someday, but there sure have been a lot of inexplicable roadblocks on the way.