Red Sox lean toward re-signing Bay

Amid the debate over the market’s best available left fielder, there’s this:

Some inside the Boston Red Sox front office lean toward re-signing Jason Bay(notes), if only because Bay has proven he will produce in Boston and in the American League East, while Matt Holliday(notes) has struggled in Oakland and just might be more comfortable in the National League (and in the same lineup as Albert Pujols(notes)).

Jason Bay batted .267 with 36 homers for the Red Sox last season.
(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Granted, Holliday’s stay in the Coliseum was short and by the end he’d shaken off the Mark McGwire Effect and started looking a lot more like the guy who tore up the NL in his first five seasons with the Colorado Rockies. And who drove in 55 runs in a remarkable 63 games for the Cardinals. And who doesn’t just hit for power but gets on base. And who hits in the postseason, right up until the most recent division series.

It’s a small thing, perhaps even a minority opinion, but not entirely insignificant. There’s a lot at stake, after all, and not much out there, and these are the discussions being had not just in Boston, but in New York and L.A. and St. Louis and San Francisco and Atlanta, too.

So the couple of good bats (Bay, Holliday) and reliable arms (John Lackey(notes), maybe) have extreme value. One agent Wednesday compared this offseason to the somewhat fallow winter of 2006-07, when Jeff Suppan(notes) pulled $42 million over four years and Gary Matthews Jr.(notes) commanded $50 million over five, among other miscalculations.

Translated, it’ll be good to be Holliday, Lackey, Bay, Chone Figgins(notes), Randy Wolf(notes), Marco Scutaro(notes), Adrian Beltre(notes), Mike Cameron(notes), and friends. It’s already been good to be Billy Wagner(notes).

“I think there’ll be a lot of guys that get overpaid,” the agent said.

It’s an unusual winter when the agents are talking overpaid. They’d sell Tom Hicks a 9-year-old ballerina for $40 million over four if they could dress her up like a shortstop and parade her through the lobby of the Indianapolis Marriott at next week’s winter meetings.

On the other hand, given some of the arbitration decisions that backfired last winter, would it be all that shocking to see players line up to take their one-year deals? Nobody wants to drift into early February without a job. Again. Nobody wants to take that salary hit. Again.

So, while one assistant GM looked across free agency, saw, “a whole bunch of schlock,” and predicted more than a few clubs would be waiting on the 2011 class that could include Derrek Lee(notes), Joe Mauer(notes), Carl Crawford(notes), Josh Beckett(notes), Roy Halladay(notes), Cliff Lee(notes) and friends, others see opportunity to spend some of that $6.5 billion in revenue we’ve been hearing so much about.

Others see Bay and Holliday, some in that order, but not all.

“I think Bay and Holliday are very similar,” said a baseball operations man whose club should be in on both. “I like Holliday slightly better because I think he has more potential to carry a lineup by himself than Bay.”

And there you go, exactly how it works.

Also …

• While it seemed by late Wednesday night the Phillies might be closing in on Placido Polanco(notes) to take over at third base, that was news in Adrian Beltre’s camp, where the Phillies were continuing their dialogue.

• Turns out, Orlando Hernandez(notes) is not preparing to pitch in Puerto Rico, but is already in Venezuela, where he’s made four starts for Margarita. In 23 innings over five appearances, he is 0-1 with a 3.13 ERA. Thanks to JRocke for the heads up.

• Paul Cohen, the agent for Adam Kennedy(notes) and Bobby Crosby(notes), said he’s had play on his clients from about a half-dozen teams each. The A’s remain a decent bet to re-sign Kennedy, who would like to return to Oakland and play his preferred second base. That said, the A’s are thinking younger and longer term, so Kennedy (a guy they loved on the field and in the clubhouse) is not their first priority. Crosby is getting equal interest as a shortstop and as a super utility guy, so he might be better off in the NL. “He needs to jump-start everything,” Cohen said of Crosby. “Given his age, if he gets to the right spot, that’ll happen.” The former Rookie of the Year will be 30 in January.

Tim Brown is a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports. He co-authored with Jim Abbott the memoir “Imperfect: an Improbable Life”.   Follow him on Twitter.   Send Tim a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Thursday, Dec 3, 2009