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Cherington is taking the right approach

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  December 6, 2012 01:38 PM

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Playing nine innings while waiting for the Dodgers to sign every remaining free agent ...

1. I'm surprised so many fans/readers/Twitter pals are incredulous about the money the Sox are paying to Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, and Jonny Gomes. Again, don't sweat the few extra bucks on the average annual value they'll pay above the current perception of these guys' worth. It's not going to prevent them from doing anything else. The important part is the length of the deals; two or three-year contracts are fine for useful veterans who are here as that bridge to Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and the next generation of Red Sox.

2. To put it another way, there's serious revisionist history, amnesia, or hypocrisy going on here if you celebrated the extraction of the Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett contracts but are already annoyed that the perceived cash influx hasn't been used to make "a big splash'' yet, barely a week into December. Cherington is rebuilding this thing the prudent, smart way -- by bringing in dependable, well-regarded professionals on short terms without sacrificing a single draft pick or prospect. Good thing he has the patience that so many among us lack.

3. And to put it yet another way, the Red Sox' level of success next season is going to be dependent not on bringing in big-name free-agents, but by how well their holdovers who fell off or were injured last year recover toward a previous high level of play. If to varying degrees Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Bailey and Clay Buchholz perform at somewhere near their previously established peak in 2013, the Red Sox will be better no matter how the likes of Victorino -- whose signing did catch me looking -- and Napoli fit in.

4.Koji Uehara's WHIP the past three seasons, beginning in 2010: .995, .723, .639. And his successive strikeout/9 rates, beginning the same year: 11.3, 11.8. 10.8. His career strikeout/walk ratio is 7.97/1. Even at age 37, he should be an outstanding fit, and for those who were looking for one, his willingness to join the Sox on a one-year deal offers another explanation for why Scott Atchison was non-tendered.

5. 5. Interesting that Terry Francona told reporters at the Winter Meetings that he thought the a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BOS/2008.shtml">2008 Red Sox, who lost to the Rays in seven games in the ALCS, was the best team he managed here. I don't see it. Oh, there was a lot to like -- Dustin Pedroia won the MVP, Kevin Youkilis had a huge year, Justin Masterson emerged in the bullpen, Daisuke Matsuzaka had that perfectly managed 18-3 season, Jason Bay was stellar in replacing Manny. But looking back, there were also real flaws. Tim Wakefield was second on the staff in innings. Papi hit .264. Julio Lugo was prominently involved for a while. Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett were a combined 14-19. I can't imagine it's ahead of 2004, with the ferocious lineup, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez at the front of the staff and Keith Foulke in the ninth inning. And 2003 and 2007 might also rate higher. But Tito knows his reasons.

6. I'm beginning to suspect Daniel Nava, who was second among Red Sox regulars only to David Ortiz in on-base percentage (.352) last season, will end up as the lefthanded-hitting half of a platoon with Jonny Gomes in left field. I don't particularly like that idea -- Nava has no discernible skill beyond a decent ability to reach base -- but the switch-hitter does have a career .768 OPS against righthanded pitching vs. .621 against lefties.

7. So Eric Chavez's decision to sign a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks ruined my theory that the Yankees would sign him, Scott Rolen, and Kevin Youkilis to play 54 games apiece at third base in Alex Rodriguez's absence. It's nice to Chavez reestablished as a viable, relatively valuable big league player after his career was all but ended by back injuries, because in his youth he was building an interesting case as a future Hall of Fame candidate, averaging 29 homers and winning six straight Gold Gloves from 2001-06.

8. It'll be an interesting dynamic in the Yankees' clubhouse if Youkilis does accept their one-year, $12 million offer given his long history of ducking out of the way of Joba Chamberlain fastballs. Still, you have to figure their relationship would be no more awkward than A-Rod and Derek Jeter's.

Thumbnail image for nicholsreidfinn.jpg9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

As I'm sure you've discovered on your own many times over, Google kindly informs you when searching for Reid Nichols that people also search for Dave Stapleton, Glenn Hoffman, Ed Jurak, Chico Walker, and Gary Allenson.

Yep, seems about right.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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