As many have noted, the Red Sox have hit the reset button on the team. The unthinkable happened as many people’s grandest dreams have been fulfilled; Beckett is gone and so is Crawford’s albatross of a contract.
I’ve been on record for not liking the Crawford deal, even before it happened. I hoped it would work out. It hasn’t. He is (was?) a very talented guy. But the burden of the contract, and Boston, worked against him. Even in a recent interview, he couldn’t avoid talking about being a $20 million/year man.
In Tampa, the expectations were not high. The team hadn’t left the basement of the AL East until 2008. So Carl only played on a winner for 2 years, and no one expected them to be any good. The Ravine will be more to his liking. People show up late and leave early. What they really care about is the Lakers. The Dodgers? Eh.
Beckett remarkably exhausted all of the good will from 2007 and what should have been in 2008. He was dominant last year until late August. And never recovered. Worse, he didn’t seem to accept any responsibility (unlike Lester), continued to do stupid things (unlike Lester) and continued to stink (unlike Lester). He probably has some injuries, but significantly he’s lost velocity on his fastball (not a good sign going forward). Dodger fans got a taste of our frustration as Beckett gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in Blue.
Gonzalez was the price we had to pay to get rid of those contracts, and headaches. Gonzalez probably wasn’t a good fit for Boston. He hit well, though he struggled with a lack of power he blamed on Fenway. The Sox will miss his production. He was “the promised land”- a middle of the line up hitter to protect Ortiz and carry the team into the future. But he struggled with expectations after being on a lousy team in San Diego. The one year they were good, they collapsed in September (sound familiar?).
The fans were also set free from expectations. It feels good to be a Red Sox fan again. It was so frustrating to lose precisely because they had so much talent. It was so frustrating because for most of last season they were the best team in baseball. How did they suddenly become so bad? Expectations unfulfilled were souring the fans, even toward fan favorites like Pedroia.
There is hope now, as the reality was faced and addressed. There is flexibility. And there is fun despite the partial collection of rejects and AAAA players who play hard and win a few. (Here is where I wish there was a video of Leslie Philips’ song about expectations- “Don’t lock me up, with your expectations….”)
It is fun to watch Ciriaco. You don’t expect him to do everything right. He’s a cast off. But he’s hitting .360 after 40+ games. He’s a shot in the arm after all the injuries and under-performance. Like Nava earlier in the season, he’s over-performing. Especially against the Yankees, which is all the better.
Pedroia and Ellsbury have been “progressing to the mean”- they’ve been doing what we expected all along and their production has been tremendous lately. Ellsbury has regained his mojo after the injury.
With A-Gon gone, we lament what could have been if we hadn’t made the trade in the first place. Casey Kelly made his professional debut for the Padres last night. He pitched 6 shut out innings for the win. When was the last game Beckett won? Anthony Rizzo is hitting .288 with 9 HRs, and an OPS of about .780 in only 54 games (that’s 1 a week). He’s doing better than what we currently have at first base. Sigh.
I liked the Bailey trade. We really could use Josh Reddick’s 26 HRs and 65 RBIs despite his .254 average however. But with Bard melting down and Aceves giving away games until he went crazy on Bobby & Ben, I’m glad Bailey is able to close now that he’s healthy.
The Red Sox may have learned their lessons. Oh, I hope the New Hampshire boy does it right from here on out. Player development, shorter contracts, and avoiding big bucks to older guys. (It will be interesting to see if the Angels continue to follow the same track the Red Sox did in 2011-12 since it doesn’t seem to be working despite a fantastic rookie). They can’t just use the money saved to repeat the same mistakes with different faces like a serial divorcee. They really have to return to the organizational philosophy that got them the 2004 World Series: pitching, under-valued players, hard playing guys who can take the pressure of Boston. The only superstars were Manny and an aging Pedro. Shilling was always in someone’s shadow until the 2004 playoffs.
It is fun to watch a game again because I don’t expect them to win. I want them to, but recognize they don’t have the players right now. But there was some addition thru subtraction. Not just for team chemistry, but fan sanity.
Some people have put forward their plans for how the Red Sox should proceed, while wondering if they will make the same mistakes. One person is Gordon Edes. I found most of his suggested moves unrealistic or foolish. While I agree that the Red Sox need a front line starter, I don’t think King Felix will be available unless he refuses to sign an extension with Seattle (you have to think he’d put pressure on them to get more talent around him). I would be willing to trade our 2 new pitchers for him, but doubt that would be enough.
Cliff Lee is way too much money, though not for as long as the Crawford & Gonzalez contracts. Just not seeing it.
I’m just not feeling the Justin Upton love. Both of the Upton brothers are tremendously talented. But both have struggled with consistency of performance, and insiders say desire. While the fans would love his defense, they will be frustrated with his offense and I don’t see that going well (it didn’t for J.D. Drew). He doesn’t seem like a big market player.
Swisher? He’s looking for a huge pay day. He is perfectly suited for Yankee Stadium. They shouldn’t pay him Yankee-like money to play anyplace other than Yankee Stadium. If the Yankees refuse to pay him, and his salary demands become reasonable … maybe.
Others lust after Hamilton. Too big of a financial commitment to a guy who has health and addiction issues. I’m sure he’ll have a hard adjustment to the rabid press corps in Boston compared to Texas.
It may be a difficult few years. But in the next month they can see who can do what. They can also see who doesn’t fit, or is a complete head case (Aceves ….).
Next year they will probably have Lavernway at catcher (at least part time), Middlebrooks at 3rd, Ciriaco or Iglesias at SS and Kalish or Linares in the outfield. New starters could come from the Trade, but I’d expect the best pitchers in the system to arrive in 2014 & 15. I can’t wait for Jackie Bradley to come up. And where will Boegarts play?
But tough choices need to be made. Ellsbury’s resurgence shows me that last year was not a complete fluke. He struggled to return from his 2nd freak injury. But he’s back, and I’m willing into consider a long term extension but not Kemp kind of money.
They have to think long and hard about Ortiz since this is the 2nd year in a row that he’s lost significant time with that Achilles’ problem. Perhaps the 2nd year locks in after meeting some milestones or something. Maybe Salty thrives as a DH who gives Lavernway days off. Who knows?
But that is the point. Until this weekend we were locked in with misery. There didn’t seem to be any way out of the mess created by the bad and/or lengthy contracts (thank you, Theo). They really couldn’t improve the team. Now, they can. I almost don’t care if Valentine does or doesn’t come back. Almost. Time for Ben to get to work.