Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Red Sox Now Underdogs: Will Guts Be Enough In 2006?

The fallout from the trading window has arrived, and it is radioactive. Ken Rosenthal is particularly harsh in his criticism, but then Ken's entire niche is reporting on trades, so I could imagine he's pretty pissed whenever any team a) doesn't do a deal and b) doesn't leak information. Nevertheless, he has a point. The FO did not improve the team for one reason or another, and it's going to be a long tough road home.

We can all agree that it's important to adhere to your long-term plan and keep your top prospects in the current MLB environment, which is starting to move towards parity. One wonders how long the window to win with the current stars is open though. Schilling may be gone next year, Manny will probably slow down a bit more, and it's nearly impossible to imagine Ortiz continuing to perform at this level. More problematically, there is nothing here to replace their production. Beckett will probably not be Schilling. The Super Genius, much as I love him, will never be Big Papi. And Coco will most certainly never be Manny.

2007 will be a watershed year for Theo Epstein and his team - if this is the "stand pat" year, next year has to be the "Series or Bust" year, or people may simply lose faith in their architecture of the team.

The acquisition of Javy Lopez via a waiver-wire trade for a PTBNL, if/when finalized, hopefully addresses the Varitek injury from the offensive side. Although Lopez is 35 and hasn't been playing regularly he's certainly capable of getting hot for a couple months while trying to earn a contract for 2007 somewhere. His defense is remarkably bad, literally; whenever he is mentioned, his poor defense is remarked upon. As we saw tonight though, it just won't do to have a $135 Million dollar payroll and a starting catcher hitting .180.

However, the Cleveland series had some high notes, and the Sox showed the same never-say-die character we loved about the 2004 team. Two walk-off wins in three days is huge, and shows that this team has some fight in it yet. The pitching simply has to improve, though; there is no way around it.

So say a prayer to Fausto Carmina - but for him we would have been swept by Cleveland. And while you're down there, you might want to take a minute to speak up on behalf of Fatty McFatFat. His back needs to start carrying some weight.