Epstein Might Have To Change Some Sox

Over at All in the Cards, Scott Humphries had a post titled “Jocketty Might Have To Shuffle His Cards” and it dealt with the impending free agency that the Cardinals will be facing. A couple of tidbits:

When the negotiations do resume, Jocketty will be a very busy man. The list of Cardinals eligible for free agency is impressive and includes a number of high-profile players including Gold Glove catcher Mike Matheny, All Star shortstop Edgar Renteria, lefty relief specialist Steve Kline, and starting pitchers Matt Morris, Woody Williams, and Chris Carpenter.

The Cardinals hold contract options for next year on both Carpenter and Williams. Carpenter has emerged as one of the Cards’ best pitchers and they will exercise their option and retain him. They are not likely to exercise their option on Williams, however, and he probably won’t be returning unless he wants to do so at a much lower salary.
The general feeling around baseball is that both Morris and Renteria will be leaving the Cardinals via free agency. They will get significantly better offers elsewhere and St. Louis will not engage in a bidding war to keep them. That’s the most commonly espoused theory anyway. Only time will tell if that view proves accurate.
The Cards will be making every effort to re-sign Kline and Matheny, if at all possible, according to well-placed sources within the organization. St. Louis will try to sign these two early, hoping to avoid the type of free agent wars likely to take place for the services of Morris and Renteria.

I found this very intriguing, so I left a comment with my predictions –

-Edgar Renteria and Woody Williams wave adieu.
-Chris Carpenter’s option is picked up. Then they either re-sign Matt Morris, or they make a free agent pickup – Carl Pavano?
-They sign Omar Vizquel to play SS. He’s not a huge dropoff from Edgar; your offense can take the hit; Omar doesn’t have to go through a rebuilding season again, he is on a contender.

Scott replied, saying my prediction was a good one, then commenced to say this:

A lot of people think your Red Sox may be a player as far as Renteria is concerned. Do you think they will be or are they more likely to stick with Cabrera?
Boston has been mentioned as a possible destination for Morris as well, with him replacing Derek Lowe in the starting rotation. What do YOU think?

Honestly, I think that the Red Sox are more likely to stick with Cabrera. Not only does Cabrera have less star-power, but he’s only one year older than Edgar. Surprisingly, Edgar has a worse career slugging percentage than Orlando! Orlando rests at .268/.315/.408 while Renteria is at .289/.346/.400. Factor in that Orlando Cabrera is a similar defensive shortstop (4.43 RF, .839 ZR compared to 4.42 RF .850 ZR). Now, not only THAT, but Cabrera is guaranteed to come cheaper. They are similar defensively, Orlando has less star-power, and while Orlando may have a better slugging percentage than Edgar, I can pretty much assume most all of you (myself included) assumed that Edgar was the better hitter. He is, just not power-wise.
And may I add that Cabrera already has experience in a Red Sox uniform and already is becoming a crowd favorite? I think Cabrera is pretty much a lock to return to the Red Sox, especially since Cabrera is enjoying himself so much.
As for Matt Morris, I would greatly appreciate him more than Derek Lowe. Lowe really needs a change of scenery and just needs to leave. It may be sad, but it’s the truth – Lowe is not cutting it anymore in Boston. I would actually really prefer Carl Pavano to Matt Morris, but Pavano’s going to be looking for the dough, and there’s this one specific team in mind that I know will be hunting for starting pitching and will have no problem throwing years and money at Pavano. Hint: It’s not the Red Sox.
I actually think we will take a downturn after this year, which is why this year is so especially important. Think about it – we have so many free agents and arbitration-eligible people (Varitek, Lowe, Bellhorn, Pedro, the list goes on and on) that quite frankly, even if we did sign them all, we wouldn’t have money to bring in new people. By the time we sign Varitek and Pedro, I don’t think the team will be able to afford all the people left (also remember Kevin Millar, Alan Embree, and Mike Timlin have options that already vested). Here is the current free agent list from Roster Central *please note this doesn’t include arbitration eligible players, such as Mark Bellhorn.:

Terry Adams, Ellis Burks, Orlando Cabrera, Curtis Leskanic, Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez, Ramiro Mendoza, Bill Mueller (option), Mike Myers, Pokey Reese, Jason Varitek, Scott Williamson.

That’s a lot of money, and I think we’re going to have our hands full resigning our players, let alone free agents. Out of the group, I think the most likely to return are Orlando Cabrera, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and every reliever on the list save for Adams (Leskanic, Mendoza, Myers, Williamson) because all of them enjoy Boston and have had some sort of affliction strike them this year (save for Myers) which means their price tag will go down.
It’s going to be a long offseason, I’ll say that much.