The Sox Chasing Another Pennant
The first of a couple of team-changing off-season acquisitions was Adrian Gonzalez. The ex-Padre first baseman adds a decent glove and, more importantly, an unbelievable amount of power to the Sox lineup. Gonzalez smacked 31 home runs and 33 doubles last season. That, along with his consistent 100+ RBI contributions, will add an aspect to our lineup that we haven’t seen since the golden years of David Ortiz.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, the front office snagged the speedy Carl Crawford from our division rivals, Tampa Bay. This not only gives us arguably the fastest man in baseball, but single-handedly destroys the Rays. (Who can chalk goofball Manny Ramirez as their only off-season acquisition). The deal sets Tampa back in time about 3 years, making their only reasonable hope a 3rd place divisional finish (in front of Baltimore).
As for Crawford, we are getting an amazing, fought over player. Different clubs, including the Yankees, sought him heavily this Summer. Crawford brings with him an impressive resume of gold gloves and stolen bases. As a prospected lead-off (in front of Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, and Gonzalez), Crawford gives the potential for many steal and RBI generated first-inning runs.
Boston did lose Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez to free agency. But the addition of Gonzalez and Crawford more than surpass their combined impacts. They’re also both significantly younger, presenting huge opportunities for franchise tags, which means many years of Sox prosperity.
The only thing that remains to be determined is the pitching rotation. Jonathon Papelbon’s recent contract extension leaves the closing duties covered. The real issue, if you can call it that, is the excess of remarkable talent in the starting rotation.
Right now, the sure starters are Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz. That leaves ex-Angel John Lackey, veteran Tim Wakefield, and dicey Daisuke Matsuzaka to fight over the remaining two or three spots. This dilemma will undoubtedly be solved by placing one or two star talents in the bullpen as late game or season options (if injury necessitates). The rotation is the best in years, and even rivals that in Philadelphia (okay, maybe not that far).
On both sides of the ball, the Redsox are looking like true contenders. A relatively stagnant Yankee and Ray off-season leaves the Sox as the undisputed favorites for a division title. Redsox nation is anticipating another World Series Penant. Could this be the year that Boston regains it’s title as the top team in baseball?