The annual Winter Meetings get going in Orlando on Monday, and for the Boston Red Sox, it should be a very active week in Florida for sure.
It sounds all but certain that J.D. Drew will sign a four-year, $56 million deal with the Sox. I have heard plenty of unhappy Red Sox fans everywhere who want no part of Drew, as his reputation is not exactly a sterling one. He has gained a rep of a player who has never lived up to what many think could be a Hall-Of-Fame type career. (I read the book about Tony LaRussa called "Three Nights In August"and he and the author absolutely dumped all over Drew and his attitude.) I even discovered that some fans started an online petition imploring Theo Epstein not to sign Drew, and how the Sox are making a gigantic mistake bringing him in.
I guess I maybe in the minority on this, but if the Sox keep Manny Ramirez and trade Wily Mo Pena, I would sign Drew. (Although at $14 million per year that is still a bit too steep.) In many circles, it seems like it is all but certain that Manny is a goner, and it's just a matter of which team he is going to. Remember of course, that Ramirez is a 10/5 player, so he can decline any trade he wants if he doesn't want to play there. The big question is can the Sox get back anything close to equal value if trade Manny? I believe they would need to get back at least two quality starting pitchers and a good outfielder in return, or two excellent position players and a quality pitcher.
When it comes to Manny being traded, my attitude has always been, I'll worry about about it when I see it happen. We've been down this road before, and I still believe that Manny will be in a Red Sox uniform when the Winter Meetings conclude. I worry about David Ortiz not having Manny protecting him in the order, and Papi's walk total will practically double without Manny behind him.
I read a couple of weeks ago that the Washington Nationals were interested in getting Wily Mo Pena from the Sox for closer Chad Cordero. Even if the Sox have to add a quality prospect in the deal, I would do that in a heartbeat. Cordero is a terrific young closer, but Jim Bowden loves Pena from his days as Cincinnati GM. I have not heard anything further on this trade rumor, so perhaps Bowden came to his senses.
The Sox also need some quality relief pitching, and figure to be in the market there as well. They just added Japanese lefty reliever Hideki Okijima, who played in Japan for 11 seasons, and put up good numbers there as a setup man. Good move by the Sox, and they got him at a bargain rate. (And of course, he can keep Daisuke Matsuzaka company as they fend off the hoards of Japanese media at Red Sox games in 2007.)
If the Sox can't land Cordero, Eric Gagne is out there, and he might be worth signing to a one-year, incentive contract. He's coming off back and elbow trouble that all but killed his 2006 season. By the end of the meetings, the Red Sox should come away with their closer for next season, whether it be by trade or free agency.
The Red Sox also have to decide who plays shortstop next year, with Alex Gonzalez gone to the Reds. Julio Lugo is out there, and everyone knows Theo is infatuated with him. But rumors have been circulating that he is heading for the Cubs. With Mark Loretta seemingly heading to San Francisco, it appears second base will belong to young Dustin Pedroia. So the Sox will have a brand new double play combo next year for sure.
I'm not going to make any predictions here, as I am usually wrong about them anyway.
I'm just going to watch and wait. And pray Theo Epstein makes some moves that won't have Red Sox fans shaking their heads when the meetings in Orlando conclude later next week.