One made by the Red Sox, one not made by the Red Sox.
I’ll start with the latter one first, because it’s the most fun. The Yankees spent an absolute TON of money on a pitcher who has yet to throw a pitch in the major leagues. I remember being surprised that Tanaka didn’t sign Scott Boras as his agent. Obviously he wanted to get as much money as possible. He was moving to the other side of the world to a league he didn’t know. So, I assumed that secondary factors like “being closer to home” were out the window. If you’re after just cash, you sign with Boras. Apparently, though, the guy he had did just fine. Was it a good signing? How can it be?
I hate that the questions are always, “Will he be Darvish, or Daisuke?” Why can’t he be Peavy? But, I’m going to fall into that trap anyway because it makes a better comparison. Before Dice-K came over, we heard a lot of highlight stories. His epic performance in the high school championship, for example. The highlights always mentioned this extreme number of pitches he threw in these appearances. Then, he came to the Red Sox, and people kept complaining that he couldn’t finish hitters off, threw a ton of pitches, and couldn’t stay in the game. Why were we surprised? It took him 175 pitches to beat a bunch of high schoolers. I get the same vibe with Tanaka. A lot of his highlights come from his extreme usage. What happens when that stops in NY? What happens when he’s on a pitch count? What about when he doesn’t get the superstar’s expanded strike zone. Dice-K never really adjusted to that. I think it’s a huge question mark.
Speaking of question marks, the Red Sox made a signing of their own. They signed former all-star Grady Sizemore, even though he hasn’t appeared in a game for a couple years. Why? Good question. What does he have left? An even better question. My assumption is that they brought him in almost exclusively for Jackie Bradley Jr to follow around like a little puppy. The guy was a gold glove center fielder, and an elite lead-off hitter. Anything JBJ can learn from that is a bonus. And, who knows? Maybe Sizemore can provide some speed on the bases. Apparently he’s already running in straight lines at 90%. Maybe he can be that sixth outfielder who gets some sparse playing time. It’s definitely worth a shot on short money. If he returns to all-star form, that’s OK too. The important part is that they’re not counting on him coming back to full form. Dan Duquette used to make these signings all the time. But, he always counted on them. He might sign three washed up CF on the cheap, and hope that one of them ends up making it. The difference was, that he needed at least one of them to make it, because he needed a CF. The Sox aren’t in that position. Bradley Jr is just fine. They don’t NEED Sizemore. He would be a welcome luxury. But anything they get out of him is a bonus. That’s the time to make the high risk-high reward signings.
When the risk is almost zero.