9-14-2010: Looking ahead to 2011
September 14, 2010 1 Comment
Sorry for the lack of postings, but I haven’t really been too motivated to write about the Red Sox, with even their mathematical playoff chances circling the drain. Can you blame me? It’s kind of hard to get excited about Darnell McDonald and Yamaico Navarro on a nightly basis. Now I know how Kansas City fans feel!
What went Wrong
If you’ll remember, we came into 2010 with a lot of confidence, and projected for a close finish with the Yankees for the divisional pennant. If you ask me what happened to this year’s team, I’d certainly cite injuries, but beyond that, we got off to a terrible start in April, while the Yankees and Rays roared out of the gate. Yeah, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury were on the shelf then, but we didn’t have an excuse to play under .500 baseball that month. Add Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Josh Beckett to that injury list, and you can see where even an incredibly hot May and June wasn’t enough to salvage the season. The bullpen was really bad, yes, but I think that’s more a function of the starters not doing well early on (4.86 ERA in April, 4.36 ERA in May) and burning out the bullpen. Hideki Okajima’s injuries and subsequent ineffectiveness was also a huge blow to this relief corps.
The Silver Lining to 2010
But anyway, enough about the spilled milk. Let’s talk about what we learned from this season and need to address for next season. I think this season clearly established Jon Lester as the ace of this staff, and Clay Buchholz as a very solid starter in the AL East. If Beckett and John Lackey pitch even partially the way they’re capable of, we will pose all sorts of matchup problems next year.
This was also the year that we got a look at some promising youngsters from our system. Don’t forget this team played really well from May until early July, even without some of our biggest players. We can have all sorts of depth next season if we choose – Cameron will probably be downgraded to a part-time outfielder, and McDonald, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish would all make good 4th outfielder options. Our middle infield will be very deep, with Jed Lowrie and Navarro behind Pedroia and Marco Scutaro.
The bullpen was atrocious at times this season, but let’s not forget the big strides made by Daniel Bard, and the emergence of Scott Atchison as a solid 6th/7th inning option. Add one more year of Jonathan Papelbon and Felix Doubront to that mix, and you’ve got the makings of a strong bullpen.
We’ve got a lot of money coming off of the books this year, which is good, because we have a lot of holes to fill on next year’s team. Unlike this past offseason, when things were fairly status quo, we could see quite a few new faces among the regulars in 2011.
Mike Lowell is retiring, but beyond that, we have a number of potential free agents that need to be dealt with. I believe that Scott Boras will not suddenly change his tactics and allow Adrian Beltre to sign an extension, so we should assume that he will go to free agency. Victor Martinez and David Ortiz want to stay, but I don’t think the Sox should exercise that $12.5M option on Ortiz. Off the top of my head, I’d support signing Martinez to a 3-4 year deal for $40-50M (with option) and Ortiz to a 2-year, $16 pact (with an option). Jason Varitek also wants to stay, so I think the Sox will extend him so he can retire a Red Sox.
There are a lot of shiny new toys anticipated to be out there on the market, including Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee and Adam Dunn. Players like Prince Fielder could be available in a trade as well, so it should be an exciting offseason. We’ll get into those options a little later.
I’m currently working on my projections for next season; once this year is over, I’ll recap and see how we did.