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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's Been Awhile...

It’s been months (four to be exact) since the last time I posted something on this blog.  Let's face it, we all needed a break after last year’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season. The Sox have changed since then; I’ve changed since then. So, I thought I’d start this newest post with a recap of what happened with the Red Sox since the last time I posted.

New Manager- John Farrell
The Red Sox finally got their man, John Farrell. I believe I posted last year how I thought the Sox had signed Bobby Valentine to a two-year contract as a “bridge” because John Farrell had that much time left on his contract. Valentine was fired (much to the happiness of many in Sox Nation), and Farrell was acquired from the Blue Jays for on October 21, 2012, and calm was restored to the team.

Departures: Mike Aviles, Cody Ross, and many others
I could’ve added so many more names to this list, but I think it’s important to stick with these three.

Mike Aviles had been with the Sox for two seasons, which is a huge accomplishment for a Red Sox shortstop since their life-span seems to be a season or less. He was traded to the Blue Jays when the Sox acquired Farrell, and then traded to the Indians. I always liked Aviles; he seemed like a good teammate, added a little pop in the line-up every now and then, and played average defense. But, for the first time in years, the Sox have many different options for shortstop (Iglesias, Bogaerts, Merrero, and acquiring Stephen Drew for the season). My prediction: Aviles will have a great season with the Indians under Francona.

Cody Ross was one of the few good things from last season. He was a fun player to watch (he was almost like the outfield version of Pedroia), hit 22 home runs (third highest total behind Saltalamacchia’s 25 and Ortiz’s 23), and was always hustling (not always the case among Red Sox players). Ross wanted a long-term deal though, and the Sox weren’t willing to go as far as Ross wanted. He ended up signing a 4-year deal with the Diamondbacks. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into another black mark like not signing Adrian Beltre.

Additions: Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Ryan Dempster, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, and as of today, Mike Carp

So, the Sox added a lot of players this offseason. Not one of these players were the most coveted free agents in their positions (well, maybe Uehara since he has GREAT numbers for a reliever), and all considered “good clubhouse guys.” The thought is to have these great clubhouse guys will change the toxic atmosphere that had befallen the Sox in recent years. “Superstars” Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford were traded because of “attitudes,” among other things.

Napoli was the main target this offseason, and took the most time to complete the deal because of his hip issues. Honestly, I haven’t been overly impressed with Napoli over the years, but I’m willing to give him a shot. First base will be interesting this season as there is a different structure to inter-league games now that there are 1 teams in each league. Ortiz will be playing more at first, Napoli will be primarily a first baseman, and Carp was just traded for to add depth.

Victorino and Gomes’ signings are the ones that confused me the most. I could see signing them to a 1 or maybe 2-year deal, but 3? I don’t dislike either player, but the Sox are trying to go younger. They’re both 32. Plus, the Sox keep touting the outfield prospects like Bradley, who could possibly replace Ellsbury after this season.

David Ross was signed to platoon with Saltalamacchia and allow more time in the minors for Lavarnway. From everything I’ve seen and read, he’s a guy who can call a good game (something the Sox pitchers need) and has some pop in his bat. He hit .256 last season in 176 at bats, which is more than the Sox can ask for out of the catching position.

I’ve been saying since last year that the Sox needed to sign Dempster, and they did. I know I’ll eat my words if he has a horrible season, but I think he’s a fun guy. Living in “Cubs” territory, I’ve heard a lot about Dempster over the years, and he’s always seemed like a consistent pitcher, averaging around 200 innings a season. For a projected number 4 starter (behind Lester, Buchholz, and Lackey), that’s what the Sox need. And, it also doesn’t hurt that he is Kevin Millar’s best friend and seems to have about the same amount of energy as Millar.

Hanrahan had an ERA of 2.72 with the Pirates last year, and 1.83 the previous season. He’s also made the All Star Team the past two seasons as a closer. With Bailey being injured most of the last season and pitching sub-par when he returned (not blaming it on him since I believe he needed more conditioning after his injury and still think he’ll be a solid reliever this season), the Sox needed to get a closer. Hanrahan was there man, and they sent IF/OF Jerry Sands (acquired in the Dodgers trade), reliever Mark Melancon (he’ll need a new place to start over after last season), and prospects Stolmy Pimental and Ivan De Jesus.

Iowans: Joel Hanrahan and Ryan Sweeney
Joel Hanrahan is from Des Moines, Iowa, and the Sox re-signed Ryan Sweeney to a minor league deal. Sweeney promised, via Twitter, to not punch any doors this season.

Well, that’s the post for today. This season, I’m hoping to post a few times a week. First official Spring Training game is Saturday versus Tampa Bay.