Red Sox fans will likely despise me for writing this, but I don’t see a great outcome for the 2012 season for Boston. Too many factors have come together to lead me to believe the coming season will not end well.
Everyone knows about the colossal collapse that occurred during the final month of the 2011 season. Rumors flew about who did what and who said what to whomever. The Boston clubhouse has a bit of bad blood flowing right now.
The psychological effect from last season’s demise will likely result in a carryover of bad feelings into spring training. Returning players will meet again, and there may be some hard feelings toward one another.
David Ortiz was quoted as saying that there was too much drama in the clubhouse. Those words may have caused some tension among certain players. Tension leads to stress. Stress can lead to mistakes.
Boston is in the process of some major transitions. Transitions can take some time to put all of the pieces together and become cohesive. The end of last season showed the Red Sox did not stand as one unified team.
When Theo Epstein left for Chicago, Ben Cherington became the new general manager. He has been with the Boston organization in different roles since 1999. Although he has a multitude of experience in baseball operations, being the GM is new territory. He’ll need some time to find his way.
The Red Sox have a significant amount of aging players. Many have been riddled with injuries. Younger players have had their share of injuries, too, and the constant flux of players on and off of the disabled list has its negative effects on the entire team.
Ortiz is one of the best, but he has shown signs of slowing down. He doesn’t hit like he used to hit. Boston can no longer count on him to produce consistently.
Many will disagree, but letting Jonathan Papelbon go will prove to be a mistake. Yes, it opened the door to bring new pitching in, but he was an asset to the team both as a pitcher and as a psychological boost for the team. His personality and fun antics breathed life into the team and into Boston culture.
Bobby Valentine, the new manager for the Red Sox, has his work cut out for him. He has the additional job of trying to deal with residual emotions from 2011 and the potential bad blood among players. Valentine is known to be tough, and he’ll need to be with some of the bruised egos in the clubhouse.
Bringing on players from other teams can lead to victories, but it also takes time for player styles and personalities to mesh. The Boston Red Sox are going to be a very different team in 2012 with new faces and new ideas.
I think 2012 will be a developmental and team-building year, but I don’t think this particular team will make it into the postseason. Sorry, Boston.