By: Andrew Oak
If you told me back in 2011, after signing Crawford, Gonzalez to huge contracts that we would be in the current situation that the Sox are in today, I would have called you crazy. Well, so wouldn't everyone else, probably even the Red Sox organization as well. After having a historically bad september and coming back with the worst coaching hire ever in 2012, they felt responsible for an overload. After the overload, they injected this baseball team with team chemistry and clubhouse personalities which resulted in a World Series title. Not even 10 months later, the team has traded its most prolific pitcher for the last decade and has officially called this season the official 'Reload for 2015'.
That is one of the most roller coaster situations I have ever come across for any sports team but the crazy thing is, this process just may work, AGAIN!
Lets face the facts.
1. The Red Sox were not in the playoff hunt. The AL East has produced much better ball clubs at the moment. Baltimore is the best all around team, Toronto has finally played better even with the injuries and the Yanks are always in it until September.
2. Trading Lester was a very aggressive move. There is no chance in hell that the Sox don't sign an ace this offseason. This move isn't even if they believe in all the young pitchers in the organization. An ace is needed to guide a staff a la St. Louis with Wainwright.
3. The Red Sox offense has been brutally atrocious ALL YEAR LONG. Bring in Cespedes, Allan Craig (as long as he's healthy) and now you have inserted big bats to help Ortiz and Pedroia.
4. Sox aren't done yet. There have been obvious reports of Stanton and Kemp over the last two months. Now they are in on a Cuban OF named Rusney Castillo. They want another defensive, hard throwing OF and it is almost certain that it will happen this offseason. Cespedes fits the bill for now as a power right handed bat. Cespedes, JBJ and another OF would complete a very dynamic, high powered OF for next year.
After all these facts, it has made me believe in one thing. The Sox will be one of the best teams in 2015.
Lets going over the roster.
C - With Vazquez clearly establishing himself as the Sox defensive movement takes place. Ross or another Vet catcher will probably be signed to mentor Vazquez and Swihart (AAA).
1B - Napoli for another year, Papi for inter league
2B - Pedroia - he's going no where.
3B- Middlebrooks - he might go somewhere.
SS - Bogaerts - full true rookie season at SS
OF - Cespedes/Craig/JBJ/Victorino
DH- Big Papi
This doesn't include Mookie Betts and include current role players Nava or Holt. I believe Holt has earned a roster spot next season for the Sox, I'm just not sure at what capacity he will play at.
SP - Buccholz, Workman, Kelly, Webster, De La Rosa, Owens
RP - TBD
No clear outlook at the bullpen because they seemingly change every year. Koji is in his final year of his contract and Tazawa is practically the only guy coming back. The SP is there in depth, but having Clay as your ace will only make your pitching staff crumble from the top (no pun intended to Buccholz's durability). Still, you can obviously believe that with all the money they have to spend, it is most certainly going to be on pitching. Owens will be in the big leagues next season, put that one in the bank. He is dominating on every level and has high upside (1 or 2 starter) and should be thrown in the fire while the Sox have some great players to back him up.
The hitting is there, they have the assets to make some drastic moves AGAIN this offseason with the prospects and the cash flow. The one thing they really lacked this year was a great leadoff presence. Brock Holt came along pretty well for a good stretch, but he's no Jacoby Ellsbury. Jackie Bradley Jr has to become a better base runner this offseason if he wants to impress the Sox to keep him around as a mainstay piece of this franchise. His defensive outlook is Gold Glove potential every single year. Hell, he might win it this year for all I know. Stealing seven bases and hitting .211 is going to leave you in the 9 hole every game. A middle of the order with Pedroia, Ortiz, Cespedes, Napoli, Craig seems pretty impressive. Let Bogey, JBJ and Middlebrooks sprinkle in at the end of the order. Not too shabby, all things considered. But a leadoff hitting is desperately needed, (do they dare try Bogaerts at leadoff or will that shake his confidence too?) and expect that to be a point of interest this offseason.
The fact that we traded Lackey and Lester this trade deadline just goes to show how big of swings an organization can go through as well. It has honestly felt like we were the Florida Marlins of old who kept shipping everyone out of town after winning a World Series. What happened to all the respect that came with winning a World Series, that seems to have vanished in the Sox organization. Lester has been a Red Sox his entire career and poof, business is business, on to the next season. Its truly incredible. The real kicker this offseason will see what happens with Jon Lester as an Oakland Athletic and see if he wins or comes close to dominating the post season again. If the Sox man up and pay the man his money (Rounders Reference), it would be one of the best trades of all time. Locking up Lester and Cespedes (hopefully) to long term deals would be the ultimate dream goal obviously.
So even though these last two months will be tough to watch at times. Just remember that this roller coaster ride is only going to continue for the next few years to come.