Article first found at Boston Sox Journalism .
After a very quiet beginning to the 2009-10 MLB offseason for the Boston Red Sox, infuriating many fans in the process whilst their rivals in New York had been going all out by acquiring outfielder Curtis Granderson, the Red Sox wouldn't play the silent game much anymore.
The Red Sox ended up signing former Angels' ace and longtime rival to the Local Nine, John Lackey as well as the acquisition of defensive specialist, Mike Cameron.
Following these acquisitions alongside picking up pitchers, Boof Bonser, Ramon A. Ramirez (confusion waiting to happen), Fabio Castro, Scott Atchison, and shortstop, Marco Scutaro the Red Sox look strong heading into the 2010 season, but there still remain some proverbial missing pieces to the puzzle.
First of all is the pitching. Starting pitching is set now that we have Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and newly acquired John Lackey all ready to compete this season, but the concern to me comes to their relief pitching.
Ramon Ramirez, Manny Delcarmen, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, and Daniel Bard are all back as Takashi Saito, Billy Wagner, and Javier Lopez all departed to other teams.
Now I know the Sox did try to aid their bullpen with the likes of Bonser, Castro, Atchison, and Ramirez 2.0, but these guys are not all that reliable pitchers and are a big risk to run with in 2010.
I mean I think some of them have tremendous potential such as Boof Bonser, but then there are acquisitions such as Scott Atchison who has not played in the United States in two years who will take some good time adjusting to American baseball again. I know Theo loves these low risk-high reward signings, but I have little to no confidence in his latest bullpen acquisitions.
Why did we sit out on some of the better relievers on the market such as Mike Gonzalez? He's a proven pitcher, so why not take a look anyways? I know the bullpen is not a gigantic concern to some, but I also am not so confident in Manny Delcarmen, Jonathan Papelbon, and Hideki Okajima who all were very inconsistent this past season.
I know some will disagree about Papelbon and some will point fingers and say the only reason I claim this is because of his terrible outing against the Angels that ended our playoff hopes last season, but that's not the case.
Truth be told, I bet out of Papelbon's 38 saves in 2009 that he went only half (14) of those games without giving up some hits requiering him to get out of a jam that he got himself into in the first place. I can't even say how many times I held my breath when Pap would walk out of the dugout to come close the ninth.
He had a scary season and his WHIP took a big increase as well from his 2008 campaign. (0.95 in 2008, 1.15 in 2009; career high). He needs to calm himself down this season, let his emotions go from that devastating game to end the Sox hopes and dreams for a World Series win in 2009 and return back to 2006-08 form.
I know, I know it's the same old story of the lack of power in the Red Sox lineup. I recently posted an article about the offense and how Bay would be missed, but to be honest, the offense is not as bad as some think.
Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury will all be productive in the lineup given that they all remain healthy and JD Drew could also be in store for another solid season (let's face it, he's not worth the money we paid, but he's been a very solid hitter when healthy).
The concerns are David Ortiz, Mike "My thumb hurts" Lowell, and Mike Cameron if you ask me. Some may want me to wait out on the complaining because the Sox may still acquire a big bat, but I find it highly unlikely that Matt Holliday will be in a Red Sox uniform nor will Adrian Gonzalez, at least until the All Star Break.
Ortiz, Lowell, and Cameron are all aging and the only one I see hitting consistently is Cameron, solely because he is so durable. Lowell and Big Papi have dealt with many health issues in 2009 and even this offseason for Lowell, so there is a lot of question in just what these two can provide for the team in 2010
I've been hoping the Red Sox sign either Adrian Beltre or Adam LaRoche so Youkilis could move to third and Ortiz and Lowell could compete in Spring Training for the spot as designated hitter for the Opening Day lineup.
I have a feeling that one of these two men will be struggling greatly with injuries anyways, so why not sign a cheaper bat that you know will produce runs opposed to giving these two a chance and hoping that they return to 2007 form, which neither will.
Maybe being under contract years, both men will shine and prove they have some gas left in the tank, but I don't know how much either do.
Either way the Red Sox still need some kind of pop in the middle of their lineup, whether it be Beltre, LaRoche, or even somebody like Miguel Tejada, but I pray Opening Day comes along and we rely on Casey Kotchman or Mike Lowell too much.
Well with Rocco Baldelli, Brian Anderson, Mark Kotsay, Nick Green, and George Kottares all leaving I must admit that our bench was horrible last season and needs to be fixed cheaply before Spring Training.
As of now the Red Sox have picked up Tug Huglett from the Royals and Jeremy Hermida from the Marlins to play bench with newly denounced catcher, Jason Varitek as well as Jed Lowrie and possibly Josh Reddick. It is a slight upgrade in the outfield, but I am concerned with our middle infield.
We all know that Jed Lowrie has yet to prove he can be healthy in the big leauges and Tug Huglett lacks any credentials to make me think he can be a suitable backup for Pedroia, Scutaro, and Lowell at anytime.
Also neither Lowrie nor Huglett have yet to produce anything when it comes to offensive production either. Maybe if the Red Sox signed someone like Mark DeRosa (recently signed with the Giants) or even Alex Cora again, I would feel better, but these two kids have little to provide and a lot to prove.
It's not a huge issue, but it would be nice to have a some pop on the bench...where Mike Lowell fits in if we get a big bat in the lineup.
The Red Sox have made some bold moves, some more questionable than others this offseason and it shows that this is not going to be the "bridge year" that everyone expected earlier this offseason. The Sox can compete in the East and the Wild Card this season, but there are still some concerns that must be attended to first.
The bullpen, bench, and lineup all lack a little something and I really believe we can do this without going over the luxury tax that Red Sox owner John Henry has cried about recently. Either via free agency or by trade some moves must be made and I think the Sox still have something to prove this offseason.
Sources: MLB.com, Boston Sox Journalism .