Usually, when I write articles with polarizing headlines, they immediately get pilloried. So I’m going to issue a preemptive “calm yourselves,” before we get going.
Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Otani are the two biggest names this off-season. I’ve already devoted a lot of writing and tweeting to them, and with good reason: Giancarlo Stanton had a standout season, and Shohei Otani displays *flashes* of a young Babe Ruth, pitching and hitting like an absolute dream in the Japanese baseball league. In 2017, Otani hit .332 over 65 games. Over his 543 career innings, he’s posted a 2.52 ERA. Giancarlo Stanton batted a solid .281 with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs.
There have been many teams interested in these two players, and the current speculation has Giancarlo going to the Giants and Otani headed to the Yankees. Good, have at ’em. Give them all your money. We’ll see how that ends up.
Historically, the Red Sox have been screwed the most by their biggest contracts. They’re currently paying David Price $217 million over seven years. In the past two decades, they’ve given out similar contracts to some of our worst players. Both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez received 7-year contracts for $142 and $156 million, respectively. And the Red Sox are currently eating the remaining half of human disaster Pablo Sandoval‘s 5-year, $95 million. None of those players lasted more than two seasons in Boston, except for Price, who has one more season of torture before he can (and most likely will) opt out.
It’s not really about the money for me; it’s about the players. Giancarlo Stanton comes from a small market team and has no experience playing in a crazy city like Boston. He’s also been injured numerous times over the past few seasons, a fact many drooling Stanton-ites are quick to forget. He had a scary Tony-C-esque moment in 2014 when he got hit in the face with an 88-mph pitch, a broken hand in 2015, and a bruised wrist this season, to name a few. So yes, Giancarlo Stanton is a monster, when he’s healthy. But do we want to pay upwards of $300 million for a guy who’s far from a sure thing?
As for Shohei Otani, that’s just such an anomaly of a situation that I don’t think the Red Sox should even get into it. At this juncture, we have a brand-new manager, a hot mess of a team, and a lot of work to do to be ready for 2018. Adding in the first real two-way player this league has seen in decades feels more like a wrench in the works than a golden ticket to the postseason.
Both of these players seem like a lot more risk than reward. So what kind of players do I want? I want consistent hitters who won’t leave us in dead last in homers at the end of 2018. I want a DH who doesn’t have more players left on base than he has RBIs (lookin at you, Hanley). I want the Red Sox to put in the actual work of finding consistent players who can just hit the damn ball, even if they’re not the flashiest, biggest names in trades this off-season, and finally learn from their very costly mistakes. Above all, I want a team that plays with passion and fire, not one that seems comatose for half the season only to reignite in short bursts at unexpected times.
I know that I’m sentimental and I tend to romanticize this game, but the teams that won us World Series in 2004, 2007, and 2013 were teams of good guys who were also good players. They were likable, respectable, and they genuinely seemed like good human beings, not the type to start attacking Hall of Famers on airplanes. And that’s how we’ll win again; with hardworking guys with something to prove, not with overpriced, over-hyped players who will end up falling short and breaking our hearts.