If there is any team that needs a serious shot in the arm for the 2012 season, it's the team that finished the 2011 season in the worst way possible. Everyone knows by now of how the Red Sox simply fell apart down the stretch in 2011. The "World Series favorites" failed to even make the playoffs after blowing a nine-game Wild Card lead in September.
So, how many people would have believed me in September if I had told them the Red Sox would actually be worse in early February, just under two weeks away from spring training, than they were at the end of the 2011 season? Not many, I'd guess. But that's the hard truth of the matter, as the Red Sox are by no means the favorites for anything in 2012.
The only significant moves of the offseason for the Red Sox thus far are moves to replace superior individuals who have left Boston. First, Ben Cherington was promoted to replace Theo Epstein, who left Boston for the north side of Chicago. Next, Bobby Valentine was hired to replace Terry Francona, who "left" the team (we all know he was fired) after leading them to their first two championships in 86 years. Then, Boston traded for A's closer Andrew Bailey to replace their All-Star closer, Jonathan Papelbon, who left for Philadelphia without even receiving an offer from the Red Sox.
The Red Sox also traded for Astros' closer Mark Melancon, who will replace Daniel Bard, who is moving to the rotation to replace John Lackey, who is undergoing Tommy John surgery. Finally, Marco Scutaro was traded for Rockies' reliever Clayton Mortensen, creating a platoon situation at shortstop with Mike Aviles and Nick Punto.
Sounds like a great team, doesn't it?
By my measures, the Red Sox will be reaching desperation by mid-June to early-July, as they will likely be in either third or fourth place in the AL East. If there is a second wild card, they won't be atop the standings for that either, as the Rangers, Angels and Rays will all have better records than the boys from Beantown. It is then that you will see Cherington make a hasty move and trade a package of top prospects to the Brewers for Zack Greinke.
I expect Will Middlebrooks, Lars Anderson and Ryan Lavarnway to be among the casualties of this deal for the Red Sox. Greinke will do fine in Boston, but he won't be an ace. He probably won't be anything more than a No. 3 or No. 4 starter with an ERA in the low fours thanks to Fenway Park.
The worst part is that he will likely only spend the second half of 2012 in Boston before heading elsewhere through free agency in 2013. Those prospects will be replaced with compensation picks in the 2013 Draft, putting the Red Sox back a couple of years as far as their farm system goes.
Mark my words, Greinke will be in a Boston uniform in 2012. Red Sox fans just have to hope I'm wrong about everything else.