Monday, February 25, 2013

The Rest of the East: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are coming off a season in which they only managed to win 69 games, and a season where the manager made more headlines than the outcome of games did. Bobby Valentine was a bad manager decision for the Red Sox. The team is comprised of veterans, and Bobby Valentine's "in your face" approach did not earn him many stripes in the clubhouse. He was a media magnet, perhaps not realizing how the media has changed since he last managed in the big leagues. It was a learning experience for the ex-manager, and I hope he gets a chance again, but with a younger team. Players coming out of the minor leagues tend to gravitate toward Valentine. I believe he needs to be on a team where the club is in the re-building stages with the core of their talent in the lower levels of the organization.

The Red Sox suffered their fair share of injuries in 2012, which is part of the reason that they won a mere 69 games. David Ortiz was on the shelf for the majority of the second half, Carl Crawford played with a torn ligament in his elbow until late into the season, and the starting staff could not stay healthy. The leader of the team, Dustin Pedroia, played his heart out like he does every season but he could not handle losing. It was hard on everybody in the organization, especially for a player who wears his heart on his sleeve.

There was also a fair share of controversy in the clubhouse. Kevin Youkilis, now sporting a Yankee uniform, was accused of by the manager to not have been playing with effort. This was the first bridge to crumble in the long, sad season for the Red Sox. Ultimately, Youkilis was traded to he White Sox and Will Middlebrooks took over as the Red Sox third baseman. There was also controversy surrounding a group of players who supposedly sent a text to ownership, voicing their opinions about Bobby Valentine. The players involved (Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Kelly Shoppach) were all traded in a historical trade where the Red Sox dumped a ton of salary onto the Dodgers in exchange for essentially nothing in return except for B level prospects.

Entering the 2013 season, the Red Sox are starting fresh with a new manager, John Farrell. Farrell served as the pitching coach under former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, and is a favorite of the Sox pitching staff. I believe that Jon Lester will return to being the true Jon Lester who was a winner for the first five years of his career, before having as ugly a season as he did in 2012. John Lackey is coming off Tommy John surgery, and is on the final year of his contract with Boston. Lackey will be working for a new contract so I believe that he will give it everything he has this year. The Red Sox signed Ryan Dempster and I think that the deal is a disaster in the making. Dempster is a National League pitcher and in his short time in the American League, he was less than impressive.

David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury are starting fresh in 2013 and along with Pedroia, could be one of the biggest lineup threats in the American League when the players are all healthy. The Red Sox will be better than they were in 2012. Frankly, I don't think it's possible for them to be any worse than they were last year. With a new manager, healthy players and less clubhouse drama, the Boston Red Sox could easily win 84-87 games. I don't believe that they will be able to make the postseason, however. The other teams in the AL East have gotten better, with the Toronto Blue Jays leading the way.

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