LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Pitcher Josh Beckett #61 and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez #23 of the Los Angeles Dodgers walk to the dugout after retiring the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning on September 1, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford are gone. That's the good news. Unfortunately, their production (yes, believe it or not, some of them did produce) needs to be replaced. How should the Red Sox be rebuilt for 2013 and beyond?
While some of us are still enjoying the blockbuster trade that sent los tres amigos problematicos to the Dodgers, (and hey, the party should go only as long as you see fit) let's not forget there's still work to be done before the start of the 2013 season. The trade, the most celebrated event during the 2012 Boston Red Sox season (gosh that sounds pathetic), solved a lot of the team's issues, but not all of them.
While Red Sox Nation is thrilled to have purged the bad eggs of this year's team, at some point in the near future they need to be replaced. I'm not as concerned about replacing Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett as I am Adrian Gonzalez, which I suppose is a good thing. But in the grand scheme of things, you know your team has major issues when they're happy to have ridded themselves of a 30-100, power first baseman. So since it's the most pressing, let's start there.
Replacing Gonzalez --
You don't necessarily need just one first baseman here since Jarrod Saltalamacchia hasn't exactly been Johnny Bench this season. In my opinion, I would focus on a power bat more than anything since Gonzalez' offensive production is what the Sox will likely miss the most.
Consider: Mike Napoli, Carlos Pena.
If there's an award for the most dedicated, consummate team player who puts winning before anything - oh and not to mention he can play first and catch - Mike Napoli of the Texas Rangers is your guy.
After leaving Anaheim on shaky grounds with Manager Mike Scioscia, who didn't appreciate Napoli's home runs as much as he did his defense, Napoli has raked in Texas and nearly earned World Series MVP honors in 2011 when he batted .350 with two home runs and 10 RBI in the seven-game series.
Pena is the perfect example of a guy who didn't want to co-exist in a city other than Tampa. When I interviewed Pena after he signed his one-year deal with the Cubs, as happy as he was to have found a decent job, there was something underlining in his answers. You could tell he was bummed to be leaving Tampa and his tight-knit group of teammates. Hmm... think Carl Crawford. Pena told me he had turned down a two-year deal from the Orioles, one that Andy MacPhail denied he even offered. (MacPhail also denied my report that he offered Adam LaRoche a three-year, $21 million deal that was reportedly scoffed at. He later privately confirmed the offer, but that's another story. We're getting off track here.)
Pena put up decent numbers in Chicago, which was also his first time playing the National League, including 38 home runs. But after just one year, he returned to the AL and his beloved Rays. It was more than clear Pena brought his bat to Chi-Town but left his heart in Florida. I assume he'd like to stay, but after a dreadful .189 batting average, a change of scenery in the familiar AL East may do him some good.
Pass: Ty Wiggington, Jim Thome, Adam LaRoche (2013 club option with Washington), Aubrey Huff, Jason Giambi
Replacing Carl Crawford --
This shouldn't be a difficult one, because let's be honest, Crawford didn't do jack while he was here, so replacing him with somebody more productive is the eqivilant of putting my bulldog in left field. If Curtis Granderson didn't have a club option in 2013 that the Yankees are almost certain to exercise, I'd put Granderson at the top of the "Replace Crawford" list. But since he's likely unavailable, it's best to just forget about it. But boy that kid is a baller.
Consider: Re-signing Cody Ross, Josh Hamilton, BJ Upton, Nick Swisher.
Call me crazy, I think Nick Swisher would be a great addition to the 2013 Red Sox. With Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava waiting in the wings and the Sox lacking leadership, it never hurts to have a distinguished veteran who's also a World Series champion on your ball club. But most important, the self-proclaimed "Swish-a-licious" might be the clone of Kevin Millar, a big personality the Sox have been longing for to help bring some much-needed laughter to a group of guys that haven't had much to smile about. Having covered Swisher first-hand in New York, I saw his contagious personality help turn a business-like clubhouse into a three-ring circus. Never giving less than 100 percent in the field, Swisher has also hit at least 20 home runs in each of his eight MLB seasons.
I'm a big Josh Hamilton fan and supporter, but I'm afraid the Sox will have to overpay and get stuck in yet another heavy contract in order to pry him away from Texas. I love Upton's "calm, cool & collective" attitude that would, in my opinion, be perfect for Boston. He makes his Willie Mays-type catches look easy and his speed on the base paths is fierce. Not to mention, after becoming a father in 2010, the Rays farm product has matured both on and off the field.
And Ross... Well he's just too damn cheerful to let go.
Pass: Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Juan Pierre
Replacing Josh Beckett --
It shouldn't be that hard to replace Josh Beckett either. There are plenty of selfish, lazy and overpaid donkeys in baseball with a losing record (5-11) and an ERA that could at times have been considered a great credit score. In fact, at one point during the season I think monkeys who throw their poop at each other may have been able to find the strike zone more often. As we all know, Boston can be a really tough place to play and it's not uncommon for players to lose a step once they sign a big deal and put on the Sox uniform (think John Lackey). So it's a bit of a catch 22, because if you want good pitching, you have to pay for it.
The free-agent market for starters, however, isn't that impressive. My first choices would be Dan Haren of Anaheim ($15.5M eith $3.5M buyout) and Erwin Santana but both have 2013 club options.
Consider: Edwin Jackson, Colby Lewis
The 29-year-old Jackson, who has already played for seven teams in 12 years, opted for a one-year, $11M deal with Washington last winter over a multi-year deal. Now looking for yet another home this winter, Jackson's impressive 147/50 K/BB ratio is one to be admired. A three-year, $36M contract won't break the bank in Boston.
This is what I love about Colby Lewis... While most players head to Japan towards the end of their playing days, Lewis went in the middle to revamp his career, and it worked. The fly-ball pitcher went 12-13 and 14-10 in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and went 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in both postseasons with Texas. Sidelined in July with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow (no ligament damage), Lewis will be ready by spring training.
Pass: Anibal Sanchez, Erik Bedard, Bartolo Colon, Jeremy Guthrie, Derek Lowe, Zack Greinke, Kevin Millwood, Chien-Ming Wang, Randy Wolf, Carlos Zambrano, Jamie Moyer.
Why? I just don't think Greinke is tough enough to pitch in Boston and his anxiety disorder may be a detriment. Sanchez may not be fit for the American League after a sub-par year with the Tigers (2-4, 4.50 ERA in seven starts). He's only 29-years-old but doesn't have a strong enough sampling to suggest he'd be a success not only in the American League but in the tough Boston market.
Bonus: If Ben Cherington can't work out a deal to bring Napoli to Boston, he should consider bringing in a veteran catcher to back up Lavarnway. To me, that's a no-brainer.
Suggestions: Jose Molina (2013 club option with the Rays, where he is very happy.)
Pass: Kelly Shoppach
Jen Royle is a Columnist for SB Nation Boston. You can follow her @Jen_Royle on Twitter.