This is my first BoSox column of 2010. Future ones will be posted irregularly and not on a weekly basis until the regular season begins.
For the first time in over a decade, I am generally unenthusiastic about the upcoming Boston Red Sox season. They have solid pitching and defense, but its offense is the weakest it's been in years. So get ready for a bunch of 4-2 games. Still, they’re a potential playoff team on paper, but not championship-level at this point.
This is a by-product of the mere fact that this past offseason was perhaps GM Theo Epstein’s worst in free agency/trades in his eight seasons at the front office. The names (SP) Boof Bonser, (OF) Mike Cameron, (3B) Adrian Beltre, (OF) Jeremy Hermida and (IF) Tug Hulett (who?) are okay but not by any means, great signings.
The revolving door at shortstop continues, as versatile infielder Marco Scutaro, coming off a career year offensively in Toronto, takes over for the defensively superior but offensively inferior Alex Gonzalez. It’s a good signing, but he’s 34-years old, just now peaking and should be seen as a stopgap while potential Cuban defensive phenom Jose Iglesias develops in the minors (and in training camp).
Epstein’s only big score was the acquisition of former LA Angels ace John Lackey ($82.5M/five years), the day after contract talks with LF Jason Bay broke down for good. Could the Sox have afforded both? Not likely, but I didn’t expect the Lackey signing, as much as I like it. He now is a potential third ace of the staff, joining Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. As far as Jason Bay goes, I haven’t been this frustrated about the Red Sox not being able to retain a valuable player since the Pedro Martinez talks broke down after the 2004 championship season. And both players ended up with the same team: the New York Mets.
Theo Epstein Treated Jason Bay Like J.D. Drew
I think Epstein is the best Sox GM of my lifetime (maybe ever), but I’ve never been more upset at him and the Sox than when I read Rob Bradford’s January 21 piece on how the Jason Bay negotiations broke down over the course of the summer and fall of 2009. To put it succinctly, Bay and the Sox agreed to a four-year $60M/year deal in July but the Sox brain trust pulled it off the table because of medical concerns (knees and shoulder) stemming from the results of his physical.