The Boston Red Sox: Winning at any Price

We all know the deal by now. It is absolutely stupendous. Seven years, $217-million. The Boston Red Sox landed a left-handed ace that solidifies their rotation and immediately changes the complexion of a squad that was questionably put together last season.

New York Yankees fans aren’t going to like this, but this was a great deal.

Many people will scoff at the fact that the Red Sox are paying David Price $31-million a season… or $84,931.50 a day for nearly the next decade. So what? Rich Hill signed for $6-million and I bet half of you reading don’t even know who he is. JA Happ just signed for $12-million a year. I bet the other half doesn’t even know who he is.

This is baseball. There is no salary cap and the going PRICE for starting pitching — especially stud left handed starting pitching — is high. Look at the contracts of Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. Jason Heyward is about to become a $20-million dollar man. Go ahead, read that sentence again and digest it.

Many scoffed at the fact that it is a seven-year deal. It has to be when the contract is that large so the team can backend the deal. Can’t fault the Red Sox for that. Price is 29-years old, so the contract takes him into his age-36 season, assuming that he doesn’t jump ship after the three-year opt out that was added into his contract.

Is that worrisome? You bet. Price has logged a ton of innings, and he probably won’t be a pitcher that lasts until he is 40. He will probably break down before the contract is up. But this is a Red Sox team stacked with young pitching prospects like Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens and Brian Johnson. In today’s era of pitch counts and overthrowing — or under throwing depending on how you look at it — it is no more a risk to bank your future on young arms than it is a veteran.

Price is a lefty — arguably the best lefty in the AL — in a division full of left-handed batting. He is a pitcher that has tons of experience in one of the hardest hitting and run producing divisions in baseball. That is invaluable experience.

Ahhhhh… there it is. I know what you’re saying. Wayniac, how can you bring up Price’s experience without talking about his infamous playoff experience?

Well, then let’s talk about Price in the playoffs, shall we? Let me take you back in time to the mid-80s and early-90s. There was a young pitcher in his mid-20s who was — simply put — untouchable in the regular season. In a 13-year span he went 192-111 with a 3.06 ERA while striking out 2590 in 2776 innings pitched.

That same pitcher in the playoffs would seemingly get lit up any time his team made it to October. He allowed 24 earned runs in his first nine playoffs starts while posting a lower strikeout rate, a much higher walk rate and a WHIP that was a mountain high compared to his career norms.

Several years later, the same pitcher at the ripe old age of 36 would become an untouchable World Series force.  That pitcher? Roger Clemens.

Price has actually been much better than people make him out to be in the playoffs. He has been victimized by one bad inning and uncharacteristically ill-timed home runs — and quite a few of them. I know Fenway may not be the place to sort those issues out, but I just don’t subscribe to the fact that one of the best lefties in the game simply can’t pitch in October.

Ignore his ERA and wins. His WHIP is 1.168 in October. Kershaw’s — who’s dealt with playoff adversity himself — is 1.160. Price has struck out 59 batters in 63.1 playoff innings while walking 12. Kershaw has struck out more with 77, but has walked a ton more at 23 over a nearly identical span (64.2 innings).  Price is 2-7, Kershaw is 2-6. Price pitched in a World Series as a rookie, Kershaw has never seen one.

Did anyone think the Kershaw signing was ridiculous? Didn’t think so.

Last season, the Red Sox put a team together that made zero sense. They brought in a highly-paid, highly-combustible Hanley Ramirez to play a position he never had. They also brought in Pablo Sandoval, a hero of three World Series titles by the bay, yet somehow San Francisco was willing to let walk. You know why? Because Kung Fu Panda has a body ready to break down and quite honestly — aside from his post season heroics — he isn’t and never has been a player worthy of $17-million a year.

So again, those of you who think it is a bad deal because he can’t pitch in October, remember how much Panda made simply because he could play in October. Neither make sense to me.

Now this Red Sox team — that is chock full of some of the best prospects in baseball — has the Ace it hasn’t had since Jon Lester was healthy in 2013 who will be handing the ball to the best closer in the game. It allows the Red Sox to not have to rush Johnson and Owens to the big leagues and a 33-start season. And it makes their rotation one of the best in the AL East — a division that has been up for grabs the past several seasons.

So, in summary:

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 12: Game show host Bob Barker poses amongst a sea of prizes at the "Price is Right" 6,000th show taping on February 12, 2004 at the CBS Television Studio, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
(Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)



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