There’s certainly been a lot of furor over the Mark Teixeira saga, but by no means should we be writing off the 2009 season.
Some people, like Sean O, feel that Theo did not take advantage of certain opportunities afforded him last year and is doing the same this year:
There’s a difference between maximizing your opportunity and trying to
avoid being over-anxious. For the second straight season we are exactly
on the cusp of being a WS contender, with just a little needed to put
us over the edge. Think of the difference between ’03 and ’04. Our
inaction is wasting the very short window of opportunity we have as a
As much a fan I am of Sean O’s comments because they challenge notions and make me think, I have to disagree here. Last year we pushed the Tampa Bay Rays to seven games in the ALCS. A couple lucky bounces and we are playing Philadelphia. I don’t think you can set up the team much better to withstand the losses of Mike Lowell, an ineffective Josh Beckett, a Manny implosion and Jason Varitek falling off the face of the earth. He did well.
This year? I don’t think Teixeira is that edge needed to get us into the World Series. Should we take steps to improve? Sure, why not? Theo still has a catcher, bench and possibly a starter to acquire so he is by no means done.
That said, I can’t see how we’re not set up to succeed as currently constructed. Remember, we came one game away from going to the World Series and the only major change in the landscape is the introduction of the New York Yankees into the equation but since when have they not been in the equation?
They may be stronger, they may repeat their 89-win year or they may win 95. Either way, it’s not going to impact the Red Sox because of two reasons: the first is that the Sox always gameplan for the Yankees to win 95 games and the second is that the team, irrespective of the Yankee Way of doling out money to cover up warts, is set up to succeed.
How? Let’s count the ways… think of it as counting our blessings during holiday season…
- Three gold glovers in the infield, four if Jason Varitek returns. A future gold glover in Jacoby Ellsbury and no defensive weakness in the corner outfield spots.
- A bullpen that increasingly looks to be a shutdown ‘pen. Imagine if we had Ramon Ramirez all year last year instead of Mike Timlin? This bullpen got a lot better and with the signing of Junichi Tazawa and continued maturation of Michael Bowden/Clay Buchholz/Justin Masterson, we are set up very well as the season progresses.
- A deep farm system with $40 million in flexibility as the season progresses to improve. Many feel that as the economy worsens or gets more entrenched, big-name sluggers will become available. If that’s the case, expect the Red Sox to be right there in the bidding.
- Lars Anderson, who may make us all forget about Mark Teixeira in one year.
- Josh Beckett, who’s 4.03 ERA belied his true ERA (xFIP) of 3.35, which is better than his XFIP or ERA of 2007.
- Jon Lester, who by all indications, will continue his ascent to be one of the best starters in the league.
- A general manager who has gotten us to four ALCS game sevens and two World Series’ in the span of five years.
I’ll put the 2009 ballclub up against any in the league, even if Jason Varitek returns behind the dish. And why do I say that? I say that because offense isn’t everything in this game. Defense and pitch-calling come at premiums behind the dish, and Jason Varitek is perhaps the best in the game when it comes to his dedication to pitchers. I’ll take that.
I’ll take a solid offense that can do it all: hit for average, power, gap power, take walks and steal bases. Yeah, we don’t have a sexy offense that hits moonshots, but we were third in the majors in total runs scored last year… pretty good for an offense that didn’t hit the ball out of the park often.
We have a good team.
Happy holidays, all!