Happy Thanksgiving Weekend, one of the best times of the year. Family, food, and football do make for a great combination, as does second guessing sports management.
So, as we head into the throes of the holiday season, in anticipation of the winter meetings, let's take a look at the first cluster of big name signings, and see what fun we can have with them.
Pablo Sandoval (Red Sox): I have to say that I will seriously miss the Panda manning the hot corner at AT&T, but all-in-all, the Red Sox might well have made a great move signing the 28-year-old for five years. Pablo is actually a pretty good third sacker, who might not have as much range as we would hope, but who does possess quick reflexes and a related quick bat. I understand that Pablo is set to cover third until David Ortiz retires, then slide into the DH spot, which is the perfect way to break Garin Cecchini into the hot corner without missing a beat. And, Pablo will be 33 when the contract is over, so the time invested is pretty reasonable. By the way, I am thinking, if I am Brian Sabean, I would think about moving Buster Posey to third, to both preserve his knees, and to keep Brandon Belt busy at first.
Hanley Ramirez (Red Sox): Kind of like the Red Sox signing of Pablo, Ramirez, who is slated to play left field, is a decent gamble for four years and $88 million. Yes, he can be injury prone, but similarly he can hit. And, again, moving Hanley to left allows the Sox to play and develop Mookie Betts, so again, nice move. The question in L.A. is what to do till Corey Seager arrives?
Russell Martin (Blue Jays): I have always been a big fan of Martin, but I do think he will struggle a little, a la Brian McCann, with this move to the American League. Still, I expect him to adjust and be a good investment over the five years, giving steadiness behind the dish and some punch while at it.
Victor Martinez (Tigers): I think the Tigers dominance in the AL Central is fading, and Justin Verlander and V-Mart are part of the reason why. True, Martinez had a killer 2014, and true he has played in 150 or more games the past two years, but he will be 36 when the season begins. I would expect a drop. I think he will be part of some last hurrah in Detroit, as the team tries once more to get to the postseason and win a Series. I don't think it will work, and I do think the team will fall into mediocrity as V-Mart's contract comes to term.
Billy Butler (Athletics): Interesting signing on a team that has been left-handed heavy. But Butler has been beyond solid the past eight years, logging a 162-game mean of .295-18-87, which includes his poor numbers (.279-9-66 with a .323 OBP, way below his career average of .353) of last year. Butler can platoon at first with Brandon Moss and provide a right-handed stick at the DH slot as well, fitting in on a team that is so good at using the pieces of their respective sum. Butler is the slowest player I have ever seen (take that Bengie Molina and Jarrod Saltalamacchia), so how he fits in with the Oakland speed game will be interesting, and I also think Oakland needs a batter who, like Yoenis Cespedes, provides enough of a deep threat that opposing pitchers and managers have to think about it.
A.J. Burnett (Pirates): I have always been a fan of Burnett's, but I would have rather seen the Buccos move to retain Francisco Liriano and/or Edinson Volquez before tossing $8.5 million at a 38-year-old #4 starter. Go figure.
Adam LaRoche (White Sox): Aside from 2011, when he was hurt, LaRoche has hit no fewer than 20 homers since 2005, and though he is 36, the deal is just for a couple of years. LaRoche can spell Jose Abreu at first, and spend some time at DH, picking up the slack created with the departure of Paul Konerko, and I guess Adam Dunn. I guess I can understand this move, and though it is not a bad one, I don't necessarily understand it.