Note: This is, in its entirety, a rant. I may consider it to be true, but that does not change its status as a rant. I know, the sky isn't falling, but if you don't want to read a full out angry rant, then turn back now. Don't say I didn't warn you.
The way things have been shaping up, I didn't have high expectations for the upcoming 2010 season, but I thought the Yankees winning the World Series might motivate the Red Sox into making some big moves this winter. That doesn't appear to be the case.
Sure, it's an improved team, sort of. As much as I love Jason Varitek, his time has come and gone, and the team will be much better served with Martinez behind the dish. Lowell was one of my favorite players on the diamond, but I am able to accept trading him, because at this point it is what's best for the team.
David Ortiz, not just one of my current favorites, but one of my all time favorites, is probably going to be playing his last year for the Boston Red Sox in 2010. With Big Papi getting older, the big guy might not be able to hold up for too much longer.
With Lowell gone, I will assume there is substance to the rumors that the Red Sox are planning to add Adrian Beltre, which I have no problems with. His bat is mostly productive and his glovework is stellar.
But on that note—what is this team doing?
The Red Sox have perennially had some of the highest payrolls the league, which has led to various levels of success throughout the years. In 2004 and 2007, World Series winning years, the team had spiked levels of payroll compared to the preceding and following years, which has led to many claiming the Red Sox have become what they despise—the New York Yankees.
Watching a Theo Epstein offseason, though, reveals the partial truth behind that claim. With no offense meant to Mr. Epstein, his passion for player development (some may call it a fetish) has led to a consistent influx of talent each year fresh from our own farm. Isn't it more satisfying when your better players are home grown?
2006 saw the emergence of Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis. In 2007, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury take the league by storm in their rookie campaigns. In 2008, Pedroia grabbed the league by the horns again, and Jon Lester broke out straight as the team's young ace, notching 16 wins in his first full season since defeating cancer.
2009 saw Daniel Bard and Clay Buchholz bust out of their shells, and nobody knows what the future holds for the rest of these talented young players.
With all the fresh young talent for the team to build around, the Sox were on top of the world, and were able to supplement it with guys like J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo, Mike Lowell, and Jason Bay.
Now that pipeline has dried up. The Red Sox' best prospects are a group of highly talented 20-year olds who, for the most part, have not seen a game above or even at AA-level ball. I'm talking about Iglesias, Westmoreland, Kelly, Pimentel, Doubront, Kalish, Anderson, and Rizzo.
They even have a few guys who would benefit in returning to the Portland Sea Dogs in Tazawa and Reddick.
Sure, most of these guys will be big help for the team in the future, but when? 2011? 2012? If not then, when?
That is where the trade and free agent markets come into play, where, this winter, most of the available names are just what the team needs. The Red Sox could use a power hitting corner infielder...that's where San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez or free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre come into play.
The Sox could really use a starting pitcher, someone like, say, free agents John Lackey, Erik Bedard, or Ben Sheets. It is said the Blue Jays are opening to the idea of trading ace Roy Halladay. The team seemed pretty interested in Rich Harden, but he has since gone to Texas.
The team really needs a left fielder, and they can do much better than retaining Jason Bay. The could instead find a much more talented fielder and base runner whose home run totals rest in his actual line drive power as opposed to his pop. His name is Matt Holliday. For a far more complete package, he can be had for a very similar price to Bay, fresh off a career year.
Instead of going out and landing one of the big fish, the Red Sox have made their big splash this winter by acquiring the likes of Ramon A Ramirez (not the same person as Ram Ram), Fabio Castro, Jeremy Hermida, Scott Atchinson, and Boof Bonser.
What the hell? This is seriously the best talent that we can bring in? Are we the Florida Marlins?
No, no we aren't. We are the Boston Red Sox, the team that in 2007 had a payroll of 143 million dollars. The team that can afford to troll the free agent market for talented players that other teams can't afford. The team that, until 2008, had no problem doing just that, anything to win.
Theo has come flat out and said for Red Sox fans not to brace themselves for any big moves this winter, despite the fact that the team can acquire any of the players they need to push them over the top to winning their third World Series of the decade.
It is understandable that he doesn't want to blow up the farm just to get a few players to focus entirely in the now, but come on. Sure some of these guys have pretty bright futures ahead, but it isn't a sure thing, and that is exactly why they are called what they are. Prospects.
Theo has also recently said that the team isn't expecting nor planning on competing with the Yankees this year. Yeah, when I read that gem, I did a double-take too. I mean, sure, every team goes through a rebuilding phase, but this team?
It's not the time, nor the place to be giving us the rebuilding spiel, Mr. Epstein.
The team has a fine, and I mean FINE core in place built around Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youkilis, and Martinez. Scutaro, Drew, and whichever players are brought in to man left field and third base are excellent supporting cast members.
Please, guys, wake up and smell the coffee. The Mets have offered Jason Bay a four year, $65 million contract. Bay's agent turned down our offer of 4/$60 MM and countered with a contract worth around 5/$100 MM.
If he wants to go play for the Mets in a stadium that will really bring out his offensive and defensive flaws at that price, let him! Don't overpay for his services just because the Mets want to. Be content to let him go and get two draft picks.
Then you can turn your sights to Holliday, who will probably cost around or a little less than what Bay is trying to get from us. But will he be worth the extra money? You bet he will be.
Letting Bay and Wagner leave brings in four draft picks. Two in the first round, and two in the supplemental round between the first and second rounds. Our first round pick has gone to Toronto for signing Scutaro, but that is still a net gain of three draft picks!
If the Red Sox want to rebuild, that's fine. But how can they pull that this year? The core has championship potential, the players on the market who would push the team over the top can be had, and this team has plenty of cash to go around.
Just ask John Henry about the money he has laying around. Instead of an eighth wonder of the world of a ballpark like the Yankees just got, the Boston Red Sox fans get crammed into the picturesque but decrepit Fenway Park.
Want to score some Red Sox tickets for a reasonable price? Good luck with that. Chances are you're not one of the lucky few on the season ticket plan or to get the good seats in advance when tickets go on sale--those tickets unsurprisingly increased in price, again for the 2010 season, so hopefully shelling out the cash to go to a Red Sox game is worth blowing your vacation fund this year!
With those options not working out, you can be like every other fan and buy from ticket scalpers like Stub Hub, where you can find Red Sox tickets ranging anywhere from $40 to well over a thousand bucks a pop. If you buy straight from the Red Sox, you can get tickets anywhere from $12 to $328.
Hell, you have to pay nearly thirty bucks just to sit in the bleachers at Fenway Park. When the Twins played at the Metrodome as recently as last year, for five dollars more you could get seats in the lower deck overlooking the infield.
This is a team with billionaire owners who have plenty of money coming in. If you don't want to buy that $1,700 ticket from Stub Hub to see the Red Sox play the Yankees, somebody else will. They don't care who buys it, so long as someone does.
Today, I received a promotional email from the official web page of the Boston Red Sox informing me that for the low, low cost of $299, I can enjoy all the benefits of a citizen of Red Sox Nation, such as a personalized picture, a tour of the Green Monster, a hat, and a neat little card that says "Monster Citizen" on it.
Too bad I own two Red Sox hats already and live in Minnesota. What good will that hat and tour do me? I'm not sure, but damn, those Sox sure are good at making a buck!
In all their words of 2010 being a bridge year to the club's future stars, the Red Sox brass are simply sticking it to us all. Sure, they'll report to us that they're looking everywhere to get better. They'll still tell us they're discussing that Roy Halladay deal, but that won't work out so we'll just have to settle for Boof Bonser.
No, don't expect any big moves this winter for the Red Sox, because this is a bridge year. You'll enjoy all our prospects sooner or later, but in the meantime, just take the year off, Sox fans. The front office could care less, they'll still make their money.