October 12, 2009

closed After being unceremoniously dumped over the side of the good ship “American League Division Series” like some bloated, dead carp, the Boston Red Sox have some serious thinking to do over the long, cold dead-of-winter offseason.

I’m hoping that GM Theo Epstein stares long and hard into that cold glass of Sam Adams Winter Lager and realizes that the Boston Globe’s “Tony Mazz” is right – he’s got a team on the downswing, and if he’s not careful, the boys won’t come within a sniff of October post-season baseball in 2010. So he can’t just stand pat. And knowing Theo, he won’t.

Not that he’d listen to The Great White Shank for advice – after all, no one ever does – but if he did, here is what I would like to see:

1. Tell Captain Jason Varitek “thanks, but no thanks”, and plan on catching Victor Martinez three out of every five games (DH’ing or playing 1B the other two), with George Katteras or some other decent back-up catcher doing the other two. After all, you can’t very well have a team captain who rides the pine 80% of the time, and while we Sox fans can’t say enough for V-Tek’s contributions over the years, there does come a time…

2. Tell Daisuke Matsuzaka he better show up at spring training as a lean, mean pitching machine ready to kick some imperialist Yankee pig-dog a$$ from the git-go. Dice-K cost the Sox a lot of headaches and heartache this year, but I’m willing to give him a mulligan for 2009 if he’s willing to live up to both his promise and that huge contract of his in 2010. If he does, I really like that Lester-Beckett-Matsuzaka-Buchholz-Wakefield rotation. That’s something you can take into an October post-season.

3. Sign OF Jason Bay to a long-term contract.

4. Start sniffing around for a young, up-and-coming DH replacement for David Ortiz. I mean, no one loves “Big Papi” more than The Great White Shank, but you have to be ready to pull the plug if he gets off to another horrendous start next year. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

5. Think about dangling closer Jonathan Papelbon for some young, can’t miss prospect (see #4, above). After all, the Sox have potential replacement candidates in both Billy Wagner and Daniel Bard, and while I’m not crazy about dealing Papelbon, the Sox have to face the fact that they have no raw power in their farm system, and I’m just afraid if Papi gets even older next year we’ll have yet another year watching the Sox pound crappy pitching into smithereens while spitting the bit against anyone with decent talent.

6. Re-sign Alex Gonzalex as shortstop. Me, I’m not convinced of Jed Lowrie as a full-time, big-league shortstop. Besides, Lowrie has to prove he can stay healthy over an entire season, and 3B Mike Lowell is going to need a breather from time to time anyways (so will 2B Dustin Pedroia and Gonzalez). So the safe route would be to use Lowrie in a regular utility role and see how he holds up.

7. Groom Josh Reddick as J.D. Drew’s heir replacement in right field. I know the argument, you don’t bring a top-notch prospect up to sit and watch. But anyone who has followed Drew’s career knows that whoever serves as his back-up is gonna get plenty of playing time. After all, J.D. tweaks a hammy if he so much as reaches for the red-leaf lettuce the wrong way in the local supermarket’s produce section. Reddick looks to me to be a keeper, and he’ll get plenty of opportunites to show Terry Francona that he belongs in the bigs.

So there you have it – the recipe for Red Sox success in 2010. It was painfully predictable to watch the team flail away against rookies and good pitching this year, but their problems aren’t insurmountable if Theo Epstein is willing to get a little creative.

Only four months to Truck Day. Spring training can’t come soon enough.

…on second thought, well, yes it can – after all, this Sox fan needs a breather, and there’s still the Yankees to root against. Go Angels!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 21:28 | Comments (0)
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