Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Red Sox to Acquire Beckett and Lowell from Marlins.
The Red Sox are on the verge of landing the 2003 World Series MVP, 25-year-old fireballer Josh Beckett in a five-player deal with the Florida Marlins. ESPN excerpt:
The winter clearance sale at Florida Marlins headquarters is about to officially begin. That Josh Beckett is about to leave the racks doesn't seem to bother him a bit.
The Red Sox and cost-cutting Marlins have come to a tentative agreement on a trade that would send Beckett, the MVP of Florida's 2003 World Series win over the Yankees, and three-time All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston for highly touted shortstop Hanley Ramirez, right-handed pitching prospects Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado.
The five-man deal is contingent on all players passing physicals. The two teams were to exchange medical information on Tuesday, reported ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, so an official announcement is still not expected for a day or two. That leaves open the possibility the deal could still fall apart, sources outside the Red Sox organization have told ESPN's Peter Gammons.
The Red Sox have agreed to take on all $18 million of the money owed to Lowell over the next two seasons, a baseball official with knowledge of the discussions told Stark. The Marlins are expected to save $13 million next season and as much as $30 million through 2007.
I guess that answers the question of who will play third base next year. Bill Mueller is a gutsy player, but Lowell, except for his off-year last year, is a 25 homer bat. Since Mueller is a 10-12 homer bat, Lowell, who won a Gold Glove last year, will get the nod, and Mueller will likely be cast off as a free agent.
That leaves us with the question of what will the Sox do with Kevin Youkilis. Word on the street is that he'll be given first crack at the first base job next spring. I hope so, because he is a patient hitter who probably just needs a consistent spot in the lineup to become a solid run producer. Defensively, he has soft hands and a strong, accurate arm. If this scenario emerges, it means the end of the Kevin Millar era, which is too bad, because Millar seems like a good guy to have on the team with his loose demeanor. Still, he killed the Sox with his dead bat last season, so Youkilis can't help but be an upgrade offensively at first base.
I don't know much about the two pitchers the Sox are giving up, but Ramirez looks like he's going to be a good player. But you have to give up quality to get quality, and adding Mr. Beckett, who shut the Yankees out 2-0 with a devastating five-hitter in Yankee Stadium during Game Six of the 2003 World Series (the Series clinching game), is a tremendous coup for the Sox. Beckett averages a strikeout an inning, something the Sox desperately need with their mediocre defense, and has a chance to become the staff ace with his blazing fastball and knee-buckling curve.
The Sox are looking to get younger in the pitching ranks, and Beckett, 25, will help the transition from veterans David Wells (42) and Curt Schilling (39) to Johnathan Papelbon (25) and relievers Manny Delcarmen (23) and Craig Hansen (21). Let's hope those pre-trade physicals go well!