2011 MLB Offseason: 10 Ways the Boston Red Sox Make Fans Forget Collapse
It is November and Red Sox Nation is still lamenting on one of the worst baseball collapses in history. Hungry for some hardware, Boston is heading full steam into the off-season ready to rebuild this team. However, fans are still dragging their feet.
It seems every week there is some reminder of the awful September that befell the Red Sox Nation this season. Boston Red Sox fans are tried and true, but with all the horrible publicity it is hard to keep the faith. How can you swallow the anger and frustrations of a $163,822,475 team that faded out of contention in the most painful way possible?
The Boston Red Sox need to win back the hearts of their nation. Red Sox fans are not fickle, but they are still filled with disappointment and doubt; it is kind of our thing. In order to make the collapse fade from minds, there are some moves the Boston Red Sox need to make.
10. Hire a New GM
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Hey, what do you know!? We already have one thing crossed off the checklist. Heading into 2012, the Boston front office was in need of some rebuilding; it was not something they could hesitate on (it is difficult to construct a team without a general manager). It also shows fans that the front office is ready to get going this Winter.
Boston did a fantastic job in filling the hole with Ben Cherington. The apostle of Theo was a fantastic internal option and provides Boston with a competent GM heading forward. One thing to note: During Theo Epstein’s 2006 hiatus Ben Cherington worked with the “Gang of Four” to bring in Josh Beckett.
Could a big starter be heading our way this offseason?
9. Figure out Theo Epstein's Compensation
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Despite Epstein packing his bags for Chicago, there is still some unfinished business. The Boston Red Sox need to sort out this whole compensation fiasco. As Sufjan Stevens says in his song Chicago:
“You came to take us
All things go, all things go”
Chicago came and took Epstein, so give Boston a prospect and let us get on with it. The stalemate lies in who Epstein gets to take with him to Chicago. This leaves Boston’s front office in a state of flux, because they do not know who will be working for them in the coming days. It is hard to run an office when an employee could be working for your rival in a week.
If Boston gets a prospect, if any, it may be the deciding factor in potential trades. Depending on whom they land, they can flip that player to a different team. Or, Boston may prefer to hold on to that prospect, but part with another. The Boston Red Sox need to understand what they are working with in 2012.
For fans to finally move on, the Sox need to close the book on Theo.
8. Trade Carl Crawford
Let me go on the record as saying that I think Carl Crawford deserves a second shot. The guy has a great track record and brings incredible value to the team. I loved the signing last year, and I still like it. He has bounced back from disappointing seasons before. In 2008 Crawford dealt with injuries and hit only .273. The following year, he hit .305 and swiped a career high 60 bags.
However, a lot of Boston fans have used him as a scapegoat for the collapse. Even though he just had a bad year, fans feel like Crawford duped them. They expected speed racer; instead, they got Wario in a $20,000,000 car. If Boston wants fans to forget the collapse they need to consider moving on from disappointing players.
Let us not forget Carl Crawford’s stock is ride or die right now. As of right now, Carl Crawford is the 2010 Vernon Wells; he has been disappointing for his contract, but someone can get suckered into taking a chance on him. However, two putrid seasons in a row and he becomes Alfonso Soriano, destined to ride the waiver wire for the rest of his career, hated by his fan base and praying for the day his contract finally ends.
John Henry,has made it clear he does not want Crawford in Boston. If he wants the speedster gone, there is no better time than the present.
7. Refrain from Spending
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Everyone knows that the country is in the midst of a horrible economic period. When teams give millions of dollars to a player it is hard to stomach; unless of course that player pans out. However, between Carl Crawford and John Lackey, the Boston Red Sox latest acquisitions have not performed. For us fans it looks like millions gone to waste.
If the Boston Red Sox want to win back the heart of fans, they need to be smart and stingy. It is okay to spend money (Boston certainly has enough of it), but make sure it goes towards extensions for established players, or that it is not for a free agent dud. Spending has gotten the Red Sox nowhere in the last two years, and fans keep track of things like that.
Players to avoid in the offseason:
1. Jose Reyes- Carl Crawford 2.0, enough said
2. Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder- Boston has Adrian Gonzalez, and $25-$30 million a year is a lot to pay for a DH
3. C.J. Wilson- playoff performances and only two years of starting under his belt make Wilson a risky buy
4. Yu Davish- Daisuke Mastuzaka, enough said
5. Aramis Ramirez- they have Youkilis and a rising Will Middlebrooks, no reason to block the hot corner for three years
6. Find a Way to Ditch John Lackey
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Hey, another one off the list! The Boston Red Sox are already 20% towards making people forget the collapse! Unfortunately, this one is not something to be happy about. The title is implying the Red Sox find a way to trade John Lackey, or flat out release him. Instead, Lackey will have to have Tommy John Surgery, which will keep him out for 2012. As a fan you never wish a player harm and any surgery is a dangerous procedure. So, I hope no one is rejoicing in the fact that he is hurt; but, it is easier to sleep at night knowing Lackey will not have the ball once every five days.
For fans in 2011, John Lackey was a calamity every time he touched the ball. Whenever Lackey was starting, fans had to sit back and think “well, we are probably going to lose this one today."
How do you root for your team that day?
The fact of the matter is Lackey is a shell of his former self and Red Sox fans want nothing to do with him. He is a huge mascot for the collapse and not seeing him in a Sox uniform will be comforting in 2012.
However, like I said, it is unfortunate he is hurt and going under the knife. I hope all of Red Sox Nation is wishing him a safe procedure and good recovery.
5. Give the Young Guys a Shot
It is time for the Boston Red Sox to start getting younger. Fans are tired of a team mired in old injury prone veterans. Boston has been holding on to it’s old identity for a long time, evidenced by Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. But it is time to remodel the team. Guys like Dustin Pedroia are the new leaders, not David Ortiz. It is time to move on to a brighter future. The Boston Red Sox need to give the young guys a chance.
Ryan Lavarnway looks ready to DH. He absolutely mashed in the minors last year and has been preened for this opportunity. His right-handed bat balances out the lineup.
Right field belongs to Ryan Kalish. I think everyone in Red Sox Nation misses the Dirt Dog musings of Trot Nixon. Kalish brings that fierce mentality back to the clubhouse. Not to mention the fact that he is a gold glove waiting to happen, and his bat has massive potential.
Jose Iglesias is a wizard with the glove. It will be a pleasure for any fan to watch this kid turn a double play. True, his bat needs development, but you cannot keep his glove down in the minors. He will be up soon enough.
Building a new, younger, core will give the Boston Red Sox the new identity they desperately need. Not to mention, these prospects all have high ceilings. Fans are ready to move on from the collapse, as well as aging veterans; time to give the people what they want.
4. Build a Competent Bullpen
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One major component of the 2011 collapse was the bullpen. Besides Alfredo Aceves, there was not a reliable arm all year for the BoSox. A team can never have enough pitching, and if Boston wants fans to feel comfortable this year, they need to build a competent bullpen. In the last few seasons they have tried to buy low on upside names, such as Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Jenks, Hideki Okajima, and Dan Wheeler. The story is always the same; these low cost, high upside arms cannot get the job done.
Now is the best time, if ever, for Boston to rework their bullpen. The closer market is lush. They have some guys in the minors, and there are always potential trades. Because of his high price, Boston should let Jonathan Papelbon go, and could instead pursue a guy like Heath Bell. Alex Wilson, the closer of the future, pitched great at AAA in 2011, and could follow the Daniel Bard track to Boston in 2012. Oakland and Atlanta are deep in bullpen arms, and they could be willing to trade for a major league ready prospect. For fans to feel secure in 2012, Boston needs to show they have the pitching to hold things together.
3. Hire a New Manager
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The Boston Red Sox put a lot of fans on the fence when they let go of Terry Francona. No one knows what really happened between the front office and Tito, and who knows if we ever will. However, the fact remains that he is gone and the Red Sox need to prove it was the right decision. In order to do this, they need to hire a new manager and put minds to rest.
My personal choice is Dave Martinez. So far, it seems like the Red Sox are not going to interview with him, but that is a huge mistake. He is Joe Maddon’s understudy. Yes, that Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays. Yes, that Joe Maddon, thought of as one of the best managers in the game. Who would not want that kind of guy managing their team? Not to mention, Boston would be poaching someone valuable to the Rays organization. Speaking of poaching players from the Rays, maybe Martinez can get ex-Ray Carl Crawford back on track; nothing like a blast from the past to get a guy going again.
No matter who the Red Sox hire, they need to make the decision sooner than later, and hope that letting Francona go was the right thing to do.
2. Acquire a Front Line Starter
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Boston’s rotation in 2011 was shaky to say the least. When the team was blazing through the summer things were good, and the pitchers were moving at full throttle. Then, September hit, and quality starts became a thing of legend. Fans are begging for a front line starter; it is time for Boston to oblige.
Going into 2011 offense was the major issue. Adrian Gonzalez remedied that issue. Unfortunately, the pitching market does not have an “Adrian Gonzalez” type player this season, but it does have some good names.
A Matt Cain or James Shields would require too much from Boston; and, I doubt they could compete with a Jesus Montero package put together by the Yankees. More plausible names include Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Anibal Sanchez, and Jair Jurrjens. These players might not be aces, but they are more than capable number two's. If Boston could nab one of these guys, it would alleviate a lot of people's fears.
1. Win the 2012 World Series
Championships in '04 and '07 have made Red Sox Nation hungry. The people want another championship. If the Boston Red Sox want fans to truly forget the collapse, the best way would be ringing in another World Series title.