The Boston Red Sox were in a unique situation last season. They started ice-cold, and had an epic collapse at the end of 2011 after fighting their way back to the top of the AL East. What wasn’t unique was the brain melting constant drum beating of how great and overpowering this club is. As I try not to roll my eyes straight out of my head, I’ll break down Boston’s 2011 off-season.
Sweeping changes in management are what principle owner John Henry and President Larry Lucchino hope will right the ship.
As we say the name Larry Lucchino, we must also mention his sole choice for manager, Bobby Valentine. If the Red Sox clubhouse isn’t ready for good ‘ol Bobby V, the problems may get worse instead of better. Word has it that Lucchino took the reigns away from new general manager Ben Cherington, who replaced Theo Epstein after Epstein decided to take an offer from the Chicago Cubs. If Valentine doesn’t work out as well as he did in Japan, where he won a championship in 2005 with the Chiba Lotte Marines. I believe his success in Japan was based on the players not being able to understand his piss poor grammar and his not making sense due to his lack of short-term memory. Lucchino can swallow the pill and have his head cut off. Chances are that it will work for some time given the amount of money that can be spent on players and the annual high contention the Red Sox find themselves in every season.
Don’t be surprised to see:
Pitching depth. John Lackey is out for the 2012 season and didn’t exactly tear it up to earn his huge contract in 2011, and Johnathon Papplebon is now in Philadelphia.
Who would be a good fit:
CJ Wilson is an obvious name on everyone’s list, but it’s doubtful that Boston would want to spend even more huge money on a long-term contract, even if it would keep him away from the New York Yankees. Resigning Erik Bedard might a decent short-term option after acquiring him from Seattle at the trade deadline. Roy Oswalt would be a good fit to balance out the rest of the rotaion if Bedard is brought back. Oswalt is a righty, Bedard, John Lester, and Clay Buchholz are all south paws. There remains question is whether Daisuke Matsuzaka can come back from an elbow injury that landed him on the 60-day DL early in 2011. Dice-K may not be welcome back anyway after becoming the teams leading turd over the last couple of seasons.
The Red Sox have some pitching issues to clear up, but the DH situation may be a more sticky issue. Josh Beckett is still a front-line starter, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia at the top of the lineup and Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis in the middle. One question will linger: Will David Ortiz accept arbitration and play on a one year deal to stay in Boston to be the DH? Or will he walk and get a longer term deal elsewhere and land the Red Sox 2 first round compensation picks? If Ortiz does bolt, who would replace him? Magglio Ordonez is available as a class B free agent, and so is Pat Burrell, both of whom could be ready to take full-time free agent rolls at the twilight of their respective careers. Still, Ortiz is the best option, both on the field and off.
With some slight tweaks, and a new reborn attitude, the Red Sox should be active in the hot stove, and compete for a playoff spot and division title again in 2012.