Barcalounge Skipper - The Red Sox Are Toast

I'm going to have to admit that it's over.  As a fourth-generation Red Sox fan (no pink hats in this household), now hopeful here in the 21st century after the brutal baseball realities of the Nation in the 20th, I feel comfortable with admitting that the Red Sox are toast.  An ambulance-squad's worth of injuries and good but inconsistent pitching have held them back from the 100 or so wins that it appears will be necessary to earn a playoff spot coming out of the American League East.

Now, the Red Sox might win 90 games this year, as suggested by Baseball Prospectus, a total that might be enough to reach the playoffs in a couple of other divisions in baseball.  But the whizzes at BP also place the Sox chances of making the playoffs at about 6 percent, and it's been dropping quickly.  The Yankees and the Rays are just too good this year.  David Price looks like a Cy Young winner, and if BJ Upton or Carlos Pena heat up at the end of the season, the Rays are going to be fearsome.  The great Carl Crawford, in a contract year, wants a ring -- and then he wants to get paid, baby.

Alex Speier of WEEI has written about the $20 million in salary and the roughly 1000 player/games lost to injuries to the Red Sox this year.  The gap right there would cost you about 10 games.  Say what you will about losing Cameron, Martinez, Buchholz, Beckett, and Varitek here and there, it's the loss of Pedroia and Youkilis -- All-Star caliber players as well as past and likely future MVPs -- that has hurt the most.  Statistics aside, as well, both Petie and Youk are home-grown guys who personify the Red Sox Way -- be a strong and steady all around, hard-nosed player who grinds it out every at bat.  But I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before.

2011 Closer: Daniel Bard
So where do you go from here? To 2011. I suspect that the Red Sox are about ready to trade Jonathan Papelbon, who likely will go into an arbitration process that will result in a one-year contract for $10 million.  I say, trade Paps early, make Daniel Bard the closer (at $415, 500), and spend the difference on getting some arms from the 40 or so middle relievers hitting the market.  I believe the team will re-sign David Ortiz, but it isn't going to be pretty, and Papi isn't going to get the money or the years he wants.  If Adrian Beltre makes 640 plate appearances this season, the Red Sox option for $10 million kicks in for 2011.  Free agent Victor Martinez may go, but the Sox have Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fold, and, at 25 years old, he still may be coming into his own.  Presumably, with players healthy and a little money thrown at a fourth outfielder, a catcher, and the bullpen, the Red Sox should have the means to get their win total into the high 90s again.

Here's my lineup card, so to speak, for 2011:
     C - Saltalamacchia
     1B - Youkilis
     2B - Pedroia
     SS - Scutaro
     3B - Beltre
     LF - Ellsbury
     CF - Kalish
     RF - Drew
   Starting Rotation: Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey, Matsusaka
   Closer: Daniel Bard

Half the team is made up of products of the Red Sox player development.  If it works out that way, I think that's always an encouraging sign.  As for the rest of the season, I'm putting my money on the Rays.

No comments: