second I'll do the enemy, the Boston Red Sox.
Prospects: Clay Buchholz, Casey Kelly, Ryan Westmoreland (can't be traded), Junichi Tazawa, Michael Bowden, Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson
Potential major losses: Jason Bay
Major Free Agents after 2010: Josh Beckett, Victor Martinez, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz (club option)
Infield: Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia put together a very good infield. But Mike Lowell is on the decline and I doubt that Jed Lowrie is the long term answer at SS either. The Sox would love to put Youk at 3B and move Lowell's contract.
Outfield: Despite the possible departure of Jason Bay, the Sox outfield would look decent if the season started today. Ellsbury may have become the best leadoff man in the AL, Drew has been solid for years and maybe a change of scenary and a hitter friendly ballpark could turn Jeremy Hermida into the superstar he was always projected to be. But with Hermida's uncertainty and Drew's potential for injury at the least they'll bring back a solid fourth option.
Rotation: Beckett and Lester are grest at the front. DiceK is right with them if healthy (although reports of him and the organization fighting over conditioning can't be good). Buchholz has all the talent in the world if given the chance. Wakefield is always around, although he's probably better suited for the bullpen at his age. Tazawa and Bowden are ready for the majors as well giving the Sox one of the deepest crops of starting pitching in baseball.
Bullpen: Papelbon is Papelbon in the 9th. Bard should be the 8th inning flamethrower. Okajima is solid but should probably see less innings this year. Delcarmen is consistent and Ramirez really got the job done last year. I'm sure they'd love a veteran setup man back there as Saito and Wagner are both departing
Holes to fill: 3B, SS, OF. SP isn't really a hole with their depth but you know that Boston will be looking to upgrade.
Bad Contracts: If Mike Lowell can stay healthy his $12 million contract isn't bad. Similarly if David Ortiz rebounds he would be a steal at $12.5 million. I never liked the JD Drew deal, and $28 million over the next two years is a lot for him. I'm not thrilled with what DiceK is still owed but the equivalent of $9 million a year isn't that bad considering the price of free agent pitching. I just don't think he has three good years left in a major league uniform.
Salary Increases: Lester gets an extra $3 million, Victor Martinez and Varitek make a combined $5 million more than last year. Pedroia gets $2 million more. Hermida is probably at $4 million after arbitration. Papelbon will probably get a $4 million raise in arbitration. Youk gets an extra $3 million this year. Beckett an extra $1.5 million but Wakefield takes a paycut that cancels it out. Kotchman is likely to get $5 million. Delcarmen and Ramirez probably cost an extra $3 million combined. If my math is right that's an extra $27 million. For Penny, Smoltz, Bay, Saito, Baldelli and the other FA I have the costs at $20 million, meaning that Boston is already $7 million over last year's payroll before resigning Bay or bringing in somebody like Halladay. I really can't see them adding a big contract and ending up spending an extra $20 million in this economy so I'm going to have to start with cost cutting moves...
The Moves to Make:
1. Sign Josh Beckett and Victor Martinez to extensions. Get your ace and the second best offensive catcher in the league signed long term before they hit the open market.
2. Non-tender Casey Kotchman. He's not an everyday player and shouldn't be paid $5 million to sit on the bench. Victor Martinez will be getting a little time at 1B/DH anyway.
3. Trade Matsuzaka to the Brewers for Corey Hart and prospects. I don't trust Drew to play more than 130 games and you don't know what you are getting from Hermida. I do not think that paying $18 million a year for Bay is the right move and Hart should only cost about $5 million this year. He had a bad 2009 but two good seasons before and will only be 28. The Brewers need pitching and the Red Sox have young arms ready to stand in for Matsuzaka. As I alluded to earlier, I don't think Matsuzaka can hold in the longer MLB season if all this talk about his conditioning is true. Pick up an outfielder you can use now and reload on prospects you can use for trades later. I had a few other options with this including to Colorado for Brad Hawpe or to Texas for Nelson Cruz but I see Hart as the best option.
4. Trade Lars Anderson, Casey Kelly and other low/mid level prospects for Adrian Gonzalez. Jason Bay isn't worth the money but Gonzalez is an absolute steal making a combined $10.25 million in the next two years. He hit a combined 50 HR in his last 160 road games and would be a lock for 45 in that park. He's not only cheaper than Bay but better.
5. The most controversial of my moves..... Trade David Ortiz to the Oakland Athletics for prospects. I think he's done as being an elite player and you need to cut salary. Adrian Gonzalez will easily outproduce him this year anyway. Oakland traded for Holliday last year and may be willing to make a move again, but I really don't see another fit for Ortiz. You can probably still get a pretty good return including an extra arm for the bullpen (Wuertz?). You know they are going to try and move Mike Lowell but I view him as untradeable at this point. You'd have to eat 3/4 of his salary to find a taken and if you are only saving $3-4 million you are better off with Mike Lowell in the lineup.
6. Trade Bowden, Kalish and prospects from the Ortiz and Matsuzaka trades for Josh Johnson. There is no way it's worth it for the Red Sox to give up prospects for Halladay and then pay him $20 million a year with the extension. I do not believe any of the hype. Johnson is younger and cheaper. Theo has a great relationship with the Marlins. It all makes sense.
7. Sign Marco Scutaro to be your SS.
c. Victor Martinez/Jason Varitek
1b. Adrian Gonzalez
2b. Dustin Pedroia
3b. Kevin Youkilis
ss. Marco Scutaro
lf. JD Drew/Cory Hart
cf. Jacoby Ellsbury
rf. Jeremy Hermida/Cory Hart
dh. Mike Lowell/Cory Hart
1. Josh Beckett
2. Jon Lester
3. Josh Johnson
4. Clay Buchholz
5. Tim Wakefield
extra: Junichi Tazawa
Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Major Bullpen Arms: Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez. Michael Wuertz
Final Notes: The only thing I really had in my head coming into this was some kind of trade for Josh Johnson. I simply didn't think it was worth trading for Halladay if the price is as high as reported. Plus if they extend Halladay and give him $20 million they probably can't afford to keep Beckett next season who will be making at least $15 million a year. That's effectively giving up Beckett and Buchholz for Halladay which is just stupid. In the scenario I've laid out, Beckett signs a four or five year extension and the Sox control their first four guys, all of whom have ace stuff for three years or more.
I realize there is probably no one behind the trading Ortiz idea and trading Matsuzaka would have mixed reactions at best but that saves a lot of cash and gives you enough in extra prospects to bring in both Adrien Gonzalez and Josh Johnson. Probably every Sox fan on here is going to say there is no way you can trade Bay but I can't see how they can afford him. Even with me getting rid of the $20 million from Ortiz and Matsuzaka, payroll would still increase about $10 million with the Scutaro signing and Josh Johnson's arbitration raise. I do expect them to raise payroll some this year, but the most they could possibly add on is $10-15 million, which with the salary increases really only leaves about $8 million to work with. That's basically only enough for Marco Scutaro and a 4th outfielder. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if signing Scutaro was the biggest move the Red Sox make this year. It's tough when you have payroll restrictions.
To sum things up. Gonzalez and Martinez are replacing Bay and Ortiz as the big bats. Josh Johnson replaces Matsuzaka in the rotation. Hart and Hermida replace Bay and Baldelli in the OF. Scutaro is a big upgrade at SS. Added a power arm in Michael Wuertz in the bullpen to replace the departed Saito. Basically just made moves to get younger and cheaper but leaving the team with a similar makeup. You still keep your best hitting prospect in Ryan Westmoreland and best pitching in Clay Buchholz. I choose to keep Tazawa over Bowden first because I think he's better and second because I think the Sox are trying to keep Japanese players on the team to be a more attractive destination for Yu Darvish in a few years.
This was kind of a rush job, I might edit more of it later. I'm sure I'll take a lot of heat for saying that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox should go after Bay, Holliday, Lackey or Halladay.