Boston Red Sox Are on the Road to Nowhere in 2013

Jonathan Cullen@@jcullen71Senior Writer IDecember 16, 2012

Did Theo see this coming and escape to Chicago?
Did Theo see this coming and escape to Chicago?Elsa/Getty Images

Former general manager Theo Epstein hinted at a "bridge period" for the Boston Red Sox in December of 2009, as mentioned in this article from the Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin.

Little did we know that bridge was going to turn into one long winding road back to playoff contention in the coming years.

Going into this winter, there was optimism that the Sox could use their payroll flexibility and prospects to go in almost any direction they wanted.

So far that direction has been a little disappointing.

The Sox decided to spend close to $40 million total next season on the combined mediocrity of Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster.

That is, of course, if the Sox and Napoli can find a way to salvage his contract according to this tweet from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

That $40 million right now smells like ownership trying to justify keeping ticket prices the same in 2013 for a team that has now gone three seasons without making the playoffs.

As it stands right now, Boston will actually field a worse team to start the 2013 season then the team that started last season. Before you say I'm crazy, where have the Sox upgraded in the past year?

Third base is the only position going into 2013 where the Sox can realistically state that the have upgraded to Will Middlebrooks.


Mike Napoli is a good player who should produce solid numbers playing half of his games in Fenway Park, but Adrian Gonzalez would be viewed as a more well-rounded player.

Cody Ross had a solid first season playing right field, but it looks as if the Sox have downgraded to Shane Victorino to man the position this season.

Removing Carl Crawford's contract from the books might have provided the payroll relief, but the team's decision to give Jonny Gomes regular at-bats next season will be second guessed if he doesn't produce.

Mike Aviles only had an OBP of .282 last season, but Jose Iglesias might struggle to reach that.

Then comes the Sox's curious fascination with Ryan Dempster. As poorly as Josh Beckett performed for Boston last season, it is hard to view the 35-year-old Dempster as an upgrade over Beckett.  

A 41-72 record with a 4.65 ERA. Those are Dempster's career numbers against teams with a better than .500 winning percentage in his career. Fox Sports' Rosenthal tweets about Dempster's signing here.

Those alarming numbers come directly from a report by ESPN's Gordon Edes talking about the implications of the Dempster signing. Dempster in the AL East has bad news written all over it. 

The thought of John Lackey coming back to the Red Sox rotation might be viewed as a small upgrade over Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but again, that speaks to how poorly Boston's starters pitched last season.


In 2011, Lackey had a 6.41 ERA in 160 innings pitched, and that still might be an improvement on what the Sox had last season.

Dempster and Lackey in the same rotation means the Sox's bullpen is likely to get a lot of work next season.

Good thing to, because the bullpen is one of the few places that Boston looks slightly better right now than they did in 2012 with the addition of Koji Uehara (mentioned in this tweet from Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi).

The Red Sox had better hope that the kids are worthy waiting for. Currently, Boston is a team without a true star player. There is simply no Manny or Pedro on this roster.

Right now, the Sox look very much like a last place, .500 team in a tough division.

Hopefully they can do something between now and the beginning of the season to change that.

Statistic used from Baseball Reference and ESPN.