By Aaron Jackson
Last week the Red Sox gave us an early Christmas present in the forms of Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg and Mitch Moreland. It’s a great time to be a Red Sox fan, but with all those presents under the tree I don’t want us to forget about the stockings still hanging above the hot stove. Here’s five more moves Boston could make to spread a little more holiday cheer around Red Sox Nation.
Edwin Encarnacion: This would require one of those extra-large stockings from the grocery store, but it’s pretty clear the Sox want to win this year. If that’s the case, why not go all out? Reports are he can’t find a market that’s willing to give him 3-years and $60 million. Offer him 2-years and $45 million and see what happens. Explain to him what playing for the Red Sox could bring in terms of endorsements. Bring in good friend Ortiz to present the pitch. They could even film a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial together while they meet. And before you say he doesn’t have a position remember he came up as a third baseman, and plays first as well. Moreland becomes a bench bat most days but who cares?
Third base competition: I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer it if Pablo Sandoval wasn’t just handed the job at third. Complacency seems like the last thing you want to give this guy right now. So bring in someone that could feasibly play the position. Trevor Plouffe? Always hits double digit home runs, has topped 20 twice, plays decent defense and will hit about .250. He was released by the Minnesota Twins, so could be had on a cheap deal with no guarantees.
Starting pitching: I’m not talking about an ace, or even a 4th or 5th starter here. I’m talking about a guy willing to go to the minors for a chance at a starting gig. Henderson Alvarez coming off surgery in September could be a great fit as depth that you could stash in the minors to begin the year. He had two good years in Miami including a sub-3 ERA one season; so we know he can pitch in the majors. Alvarez has often dealt with injuries but Boston would probably only need 10 starts max if he can prove it. This would be better than solely relying on a Henry Owens or Roenis Elias type riding a fire truck from Pawtucket as an emergency starter.
Utility infielder: The Red Sox have to have someone to give Pedroia and Boegarts days off. Xander hit a wall and couldn’t come back from it late in the year. He even told the media and front office he needed a rest once in a while. Boston does have some in house options for this type of guy (Josh Rutledge, Marco Hernandez) but I’d like to see someone with a better pedigree. Gordon Beckham comes to mind. Highly touted coming out of Georgia as the 8th overall pick, Beckham has never lived up to the hype. His days as a full time starter are probably over, but he’s proven he can be a productive, although slightly less than spectacular, player. He could provide that depth while also actually being something other than a warm body.
A short leash on manager John Farrell: Yes, he helped the Red Sox win the division this past year. For that the title here isn’t simply Fire John Farrell. I’m willing to give him a shot, but only with the caveat that if things aren’t going well, he’s gone quickly. The guy has a career record just over .500 with a pretty big sample size, and he’s done it with some high profile players and teams. There needs to be a contingency plan ready to go quickly should the Sox falter out of the gate.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.