Re: If we wanted to compete for the playoffs NEXT YEAR, what would we have to do ?
posted at 9/24/2012 6:52 PM EDT
If Buchholz comes back in the spring like he is right now the team could be pretty good. Lester and Buchholz figure to give the Sox two pretty good #2 starters so all we need is a stud at the top of the rotation. Right now it appears to me that the plan is to stockpile young arms and hope one of them catches fire. They did pick up a couple of decent arms from the Dodgers in the big trade, but I don't know if I'd want to count on them at the top of the rotation. Perhaps another trade is in the works. I wonder if we could get Johnny Cueto from the Reds for Ellsbury, both of the pitchers we got from the Dodgers and Matt Barnes? Anyway, provided we could come up with a TOR starter, we'd have our ace, Lester, Buchholz, and Lackey in the rotation with auditions probably going to Aceves, Doubront, Tazawa, Morales and possibly one of DeLaRosa and Webster. We could also look at someone like Brandon McCarthy in the rotation. Our bullpen is actually pretty stacked and you might see some trades coming from this area. Between Miller, Tazawa, Aceves, Mortenson, possibly Bard and Bailey the Sox have some very solid arms in the bullpen, and they're mostly pretty young.
A bigger question than maybe the rotation going into the offseason has to be the manager's chair. I know we had injuries and a lot of them. But when your whole team just doesn't show up to play some nights, you have to at least glance in the direction of the manager. And when you look that way the view isn't good. I don't think there is any way you can credibly argue that Bobby Valentine has been anything but a disaster as the manager. He only started out his tenure by alienating the two most team first guys on his ballclub in Youk and Pedey. And it's been all downhill from there. In a way watching BV run the Boston Red Sox has been fascinating, kind of like watching watching a train wreck in slow motion. Bobby has not been a good manager for the Red Sox and the number one job for Ben Cherington is to find the right guy for that job. My report card for Ben Cherington starts with that. My personal choice for the job would be Arnie Beyeler, and I would hope that he would get to bring his staff from Pawtucket with him. By the end of the year his team was literally composed im AAA subs and scraps, yet he had that team in a one game playoff for the triple A championship. Granted the PawSox got pounded, but that's not the point. The point is that Beyeler can clearly relate to and more importantly motivate his players. Oh and the reason I mentioned his staff is that his pitching coach, Rich Sauveur is the genius that turned around Andrew Miller among others.
On to the offense, it looks like we'll be bringing back Cody Ross for a couple of years. But we do have some pretty big questions here. The guys who will definitely be here IMO are Middlebrooks, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Iglesias, Lavarnaway, Saltalamacchia, Kalish, Ciriaco and I guess Sweeney, not that I'm necessarily all that happy about Sweeney being back. The guys who we could be looking at in spring training are Brentz, Linares, Aviles, Gomez, Nava and hopefully Bradley and Bogaerts. I also think David Ortiz will be back. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I think the big man will retire with the Red Sox. So we could have a nightly lineup featuring Ellsbury (Bradley), Pedroia, Ortiz, Ross, Middlebrooks and a catcher with some pop. That's at least as deep a lineup as most teams have. We could well see Xander Bogaerts in Boston during the coming season and if he comes up to stay he makes our lineup even deeper because he's our cleanup hitter behind David. We could also go after a big free agent this offseason, with Josh Hamilton already being mentioned prominently by the press, but I can't see Ben going after anyone that's going to need more than a 3 year contract. Maybe I'm being overly hopeful though. Seriously though, I don't you'll see the Red Sox being major players in the free agent marketplace this year. What they should and hopefully will do is wait until after Christmas and see who's still out there, there's bound to be a Mike Napoli type player out there that we could get cheap. As far as the big names out there like Greinke and Hamilton, I just don't see anyone who looks like enough of a difference maker to make the kind of long term commitment we would need to sign such a high profile free agent. They certainly don't look like Manny and Pedro if you know what I mean.
I guess this has been kind of a long rambling response. Posting while stoned. :) But to sum up my thoughts today, can the Sox contend in 2013? Yes. It all starts with finding the right manager. Selling the farm for Johnny Cueto might be a good idea too.