Ten Steps to a winning 2013 for the Boston Red Sox
by Bill Baldwin,
a.k.a. BoSox Fan 1950
Step # 1. Fire Bobby Valentine. IMHO, there have been no signs that BV has a superior baseball mind while we have had numerous signs otherwise. His handling of the line-up and the bull pen left a great deal to be desired all year. And we have had a bunch of signs that he does not possess a “clutch” between his brain and his rather over-sized and over-worked mouth. If he thinks it, he’s more than likely to say it, no matter the consequences. There have also been a plethora of signs that he simply doesn’t get it when it comes to dealing with professional baseball players, youngsters or veterans. Maybe his years in Japan inculcated him to a different culture’s way of conducting interpersonal relations, management to subordinates. As Dustin Pedroia said after Valentine’s first huge gaff about Kevin Youkilis, “That’s not the way we do things around here.” Had that been the end of Valentine’s verbal vomit, one could chalk it up to something other than a penchant for the spotlight and a rather inappropriate way of speaking his alleged mind. Let the Bobby V era end at the end of this regular season. There is no doubt that there were a slew of “extenuating circumstances” that assailed our team. All of which were terribly distracting and debilitating and terribly mishandled by BV. But, even so, Valentine’s inability to garner support from the very guys he was supposed to be supporting far outweighed the effect of the injuries, Beckett and his band of fools, and the persistent and ineffective meddling by the owners, Larry Lucchino in particular. Of course Henry’s debacle with Carl Crawford didn’t help a whit, either. So, get two tickets on a slow boat to Japan. One for Valentine, one for Matsuzaka.
Step #2. Hire Valentine’s replacement as quickly as possible. The problem with that A.S.A.P. is that no potential new manager worth his salt is going to be even the least bit interested in managing the Red Sox until he sees what other moves the team is going to make. And the sad reality is there are slim pickings out there for candidates. We have, pretty much, the same list as last year when Larry Lucchino, having apparently lost an election bet, pushed Valentine down everyone’s throat. A few of those candidates are gone, hired by other clubs. In no apparent or intended order, we have this year: Rick Adair, Orioles’ Pitching Coach; Sandy Alomar, Jr., Cleveland’s Bench Coach; Gene Lamont, Detroit’s 3rd Base Coach; Mike Maddux, Texas’ Pitching Coach; Alan Trammell, Arizona’s Bench Coach; and the only viable “in-house” candidate, Dave Magadan, Red Sox Batting Coach. Not exactly a list brimming with great potential. The sad reality here is that while most folks would consider these guys candidates, odds are they don’t consider themselves as such. Not for the Boston job! Realistically, who in their right mind would want to step into the job of managing our Red Sox? Case in point, last year Valentine did and he has recently stated that he fully expects to be back as the Red Sox manager in 2013. I purposely left John Farrell’s name off this list because he has a year left on his contract with Toronto. I’d be loathe to have to give up one or two draft picks for Farrell. Plus, I don’t see how Farrell could be the least bit interested in the job. Hey. I could be wrong. My bet, were I a betting man, would be that the Red Sox pursue Lamont and/or Alomar. Hopefully, they let the new manager, whoever he turns out to be, select his own coaches. As for Varitek as the new manager, there’s that great line from “The Gladiator” when discussing a reunion in the afterlife, “Not yet.” I’d like to see Varitek as a Red Sox Coach first. Then down track a ways as the manager. But, again, the answer is, not yet.
Steps #3A, 3B, and 3C. These are no-brainers. Re-sign David Ortiz. Give him what he wants. Period! David still has a lot left to contribute. He is the quintessential Red Sox representative to the community and Red Sox Nation. Re-sign Cody Ross and Scott Podsednik. Ross will play right field and Podsednik platoons with Nava in left field. As I wrote, no-brainers.
Step #4. Extend Jacoby Ellsbury. We cannot afford not to extend him. He has, arguably, the best potential of any of our current players. If you think that the French stormed the Bastile with reckless abandon, imagine what will happen on Yawkey way if we let Ellsbury walk!
Step #5. Make the decision and announce that Pedro Ciriaco is our starting SS. Why this wasn’t done at the end of spring training this year is absolutely beyond me. And I don’t want to hear about options. Granted Aviles did yeoman’s work for us at SS, but he is not as good, IMHO, as Ciriaco, offensively or defensively. I’d keep Aviles next year as a super sub. Jose Iglesias is a great kid and an exceptional fielder. However, he couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a cricket bat. With Ciriaco at SS, Middlebrooks at 3B, Pedroia at 2B, and either Loney, Gomez, or some new acquisition (after we have the starting rotation settled!) at 1B, we’d have a great infield, offensively as well as defensively.
Step #6. Keep an extra close eye on John Lackey in spring training. If he doesn’t awe everyone with his return to his level of pitching as he did in LA a few years ago, get rid of him. Fast.
Step #7. Acquire from free agency, trade, or within 3 more starters (I personally don’t think Lackey will measure up to the quality we need in a starter which leaves us with just Lester and Buchholz). Free Agent starting pitchers available but maybe unattainable: Zack Greinke; Jake Peavy; Kyle Lohse; Hiroki Kuroda (I wouldn’t want him, but, hey, I could be wrong); Ryan Dempster; Edwin Jackson (could be cheaper than he was last year); Anibal Sanchez; Brandon McCarthy; Andy Pettitte (um, no, thanks, but again, . . . ); Jeremy Guthrie; Brett Myers; Shaun Marcum; Ervin Santana; Gavin Floyd; and Carlos Villanueva. I have it on good authority that a bunch of other free agents are going to be staying put: Putz (RP); Hudson; Maholm; Ayala; Shields; and Dickey. Via trades? We have a bunch of guys who could be a viable part of a trade package: Ryan Lavarnway (why is there so much hoopla about Ryan? Trade him. Keep Salty and get another impact catcher), Sweeney, Kalish, Iglesias, and other prospects. Let’s go make some trades! From within? I guess Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales (and others NOT NAMED DANIEL BARD!!) have a shot but I’d much prefer both of them in the bull pen (and Bard as maybe the third passenger on that slow boat to Japan). And, truth be told, if some team were to make us a viable offer for either Lester or Buchholz, I’d take it. Neither of them inspire a great deal of confidence in me relative to their effectiveness for next year.
Step #8. The bull pen could use some upgrading after we jettison Aceves, Atchison, Bard, Breslow, Cook, Miller, Mortenson, and Padilla. I’d like to see Bailey, Doubront, Melancon, Morales, and Tazawa in the Red Sox ‘pen. Also, maybe, Carpenter and Hill, or two new upgrades. Actually, were it not for the abysmal failure with Bard, I’d be tempted to try to make a starter out of Tazawa. But, I’m sure everyone, particularly Tazawa, is a tad gun shy about being involved in another attempt to change a successful reliever into a starter after seeing what management did this year to the best set-up man we’d had for years.
Step #9. Make a big PR deal out of announcing Dustin Pedroia as the Captain! Let Jason Varitek, in whatever his new capacity is, make the announcement. And do it just before the first full squad spring training game.
Step #10A. Get Lucchino to step down and take a 10-year sabbatical from the team and spend the ten years in a small cell in Tibet. No TV, no computer. No Telephone, land line or cell. No paper or pen. No? Oh, all right, but at least get him to step down and shut up!
Step #10B. Gag John Henry and keep him away from the players, the coaches, the fans (or he’ll surely be tarred and feathered), and the media.
I’m sure there are other steps that could have been included here, but these are, IMHO, the more important ones.