But all of these questions are predicated on two larger goals: winning a World Series title and, perhaps more importantly, beating the Yankees.
The easiest way to "bridge the gap" between the Red Sox and the newly crowned world champion Yankees, says Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe? Go all out for San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
The biggest difference between the two teams this season wasn't the pitching staffs, Cafardo suggests, but first baseman Mark Teixeira, on whom the Red Sox lost out at the last minute last offseason to the higher-bidding Yanks.
Like Teixeira, Gonzalez is a reliable, everyday starter who manager Terry Francona could pencil into the lineup without thought. He's missed a total of just four games for the Padres over the last three seasons and, like Teixeira, plays a Gold-Glove-level first base.
Additionally, bringing in a slugger of Gonzalez's caliber — he's averaged over 35 homers and 106 RBIs over the last three seasons — would give the Red Sox another serious bat in the middle of its lineup, a necessity if Bay leaves town. Gonzo's numbers are especially impressive given that he's been playing in a pitchers' park and has been in the middle of a weak lineup that has struggled to offer him any protection.
"Gonzalez would come close to 50 homers if he played half his games at Fenway," one American League GM told Cafardo. "I don't think that's exaggerating."
But how feasible is getting a deal done with the Padres? It seems like Red Sox GM Theo Epstein might have a viable trading partner in former assistant and new San Diego GM Jed Hoyer, right?
It's possible. Hoyer knows quite well the talent the Red Sox have in their farm system and the package of players he'd need to get the deal done.
The Padres would also have a hard time paying Gonzalez what he's worth when his contract runs out. Gonzalez will make just $4.75 million in 2010 and has an option for $5.5 million in 2011. After that, though, the lower-revenue Pads would likely watch their All-Star walk away for bigger money elsewhere. Wouldn't it make sense to get a group of talented youngsters in exchange instead?
Of course, but are the Red Sox a team that would be willing or able to give up those promising farmhands?
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports doesn't think so:
"First baseman Lars Anderson, once considered a top prospect, had a .673 OPS at Triple-A last season. Right-hander Michael Bowden is not considered an elite talent by most clubs. Most of the Sox' better young players are either in the majors (Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz) or below Double-A, increasing the degree of difficulty for a Gonzalez deal."
Rosenthal's point is that it's going to take a big-time offer to pry Gonzalez away from the Padres. And it will. But if the Red Sox want to return to the short list of serious World Series contenders in 2010, it will take a big-time acquisition to do it.
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