Tonight, the Red Sox honored Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Rice by retiring his #14. He played for the Red Sox in all of his 16 years.
The Red Sox used to have strict rules for retiring numbers. A player used to have to play for the team at least ten years, retire with the team, and make the Hall of Fame.
These rules were set by previous ownership and aren't officially enforced anymore, as shown with the retiring of Johnny Pesky's number last year. However, it's clear that the Red Sox still consider these rules before retiring numbers.
Here are the numbers the Red Sox should retire.
#21 Roger Clemens: Let's face the facts. Clemens is the greatest pitcher in Red Sox history. In a Red Sox uniform, Clemens recorded 192 wins and 2,590 strikeouts. He also won three Cy Young Awards and the 1986 AL MVP during his years in Boston.
Of course, the retiring Clemens's number now would be awful timing. If Clemens becomes a Hall of Famer, that would be a good time. Or just when people get over all the wrong things he did.
#24 Dwight Evans: Evans might have been even better than Rice, as they shared the outfield. He beats Rice in OBP, home runs (by three, to be fair), has more than twice as many walks, and has eight more Gold Gloves than Rice.
Sorry Manny Ramirez, but if #24 is retired, it will be because of Evans.
#26 Wade Boggs: Boggs' number is unofficially retired because he fits the criteria above. Boggs played 11 seasons with the Red Sox, and they were some of the best years a leadoff hitter ever had.
Boggs had an OBP over .400 in each of his first seven years. He hit .338 with the Red Sox. He was one of the American League's most feared hitters, leading the league in intentional walks six years in a row.
Other names have been in the discussion for number retirement, but these are the players who don't deserve it.
Nomar Garciaparra: In the Red Sox current unofficial criteria, the only thing that really makes sense is the ten years with the team. Garciaparra didn't have that.
Pedro Martinez: See Nomar.
Trot Nixon: Nixon is considered by some to be the last "dirt dog" of the Red Sox. He was on the team for ten years, but all that's exceptional is his longevity. It wouldn't look that great if the Red Sox were able to develop many of their players. He was just a bright spot on a team that was terrible at developing talent.
David Ortiz: Ortiz's career will be defined by five monster years where he finished in the top five in AL MVP voting from 2003-2007. But that's his fifteen minutes (or five years) of fame. In an organization that values ten valuable years in its criteria, Ortiz just didn't have the longevity.
Manny Ramirez: See Nomar.
Jason Varitek: Varitek gave the Red Sox stability at catcher for about a decade, which is impressive. He just wasn't an exceptional player, though. There wasn't a long period of time where he was one of the best catchers in the game.
Tim Wakefield: Wakefield has started more games than any pitcher in team history, but like Varitek, he just wasn't that great. A mid-four's ERA isn't worthy of retirement.
And in the future...?
Jonathan Papelbon: Perhaps Papelbon won't be on the Red Sox past 2011. But at this rate, he could be one of the greatest closers of all time. He's made four All-Star teams in his first four years, and he'll make many more if he maintains his dominance.
Dustin Pedroia: Pedroia is signed until 2015, which would give him ten seasons. Already an MVP, a ROY, a Gold Glover, a Silver Slugger, and a World Series champion, Pedroia has already stepped up as a leader for the Red Sox.
Perhaps he's a future captain.