Junichi Tazawa deserves a spot in the Red Sox bullpen in 2013.
Today the Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine. That was a surprise to no one as the team has it’s worst season since 1966. Valentine may have been brought in as just a flashy name and pose as damage control. Well more drama happened this season than an episode of Jersey Shore. Between the players not liking Valentine, the coaches not acknowledging Valentine, and everything in between. Some of the stories that came out, you just could not make up. Between Gary Tuck not answering the phone in the bullpen to Bob McClure not telling Valentine what he said to the pitchers on the mound. Pedroia saying “that’s not how we do it around here.” Alfredo Aceves slamming the office door after not closing a game, in which the night before he gave up five runs. All of these were problems this season the team has to be happy it is finally over.
The Red Sox need to work faster this off season. Last off season they were in recovery mode after the collapse and took their time. With Valentine already fired they need to start interviewing candidates for the managerial position. All this talk about John Farrell I believe is ludicrous but the team seems to be going after him. First off he was here before. I believe the team needs some new blood in there. Get rid of the whole coaching staff and let the manager and Ben Cherrington decide on a staff instead of having Valentine and Francona leftovers. Second, I understand the AL East is not the easiest division to play in but the Blue Jays have not won under Farrell’s lead. Why will the Red Sox win under his lead? I believe the Red Sox need a culture change and that starts with a manager that may not be too familiar with the players in that clubhouse, but knows how to communicate.
Tim Bogar was passed on by the Houston Astros, there must have been a reason. DeMarlo Hale has to be a little upset he was passed on again but maybe he will come in for an interview as well. Terry Francona is projected to get the job with Cleveland so that may lead to an opening for Sandy Alomar Jr. This manager will be hired by Ben Cherrington this time around and not Larry Lucchino. Cherrington needs a manager in place by November 1st, which leaves him plenty of time. This manager will not be a one year stop gap like Valentine, so Cherrington needs to be allowed to make the right choice by ownership.
Now that the manager is gone from the 2012 team, which players will be back for the 2013 season? I break it down by position:
Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey will almost certainly be back next season. Gone will be Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka and it won’t be a sad goodbye. To address the need for pitching the Red Sox will need an innings eater who is a number two starter at worst. Lester did not have a good year and Lackey will be an end of the rotation pitcher the rest of his career.
Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks are the only locks are their positions for next season. Shortstop has been the question since the trade of Nomar Garciaparra and it will be no different this off season. Mike Aviles saw almost no playing time this September, as he watched Jose Iglesias make great defensive plays and have some horrible at bats. Iglesias’ bat can be tolerated if the Red Sox acquire a power hitter in the middle of the lineup. Aviles was disrespected by the team so he may want to play elsewhere and maybe they could get a relief pitcher for him. James Loney was in the Dodgers trade as fill in and maybe will be brought back on a short term deal. He wasn’t hitting all that great with the Dodgers and that continued in Boston. I think the Red Sox should look elsewhere. Pedro Ciriaco is not an everyday player but should be on this team next year as utility player who has plus speed.
Cody Ross is a free agent and wants to be back next season. The Red Sox should give him a multi year deal as he was the only real person on the team all season. Jacoby Ellsbury is a year from free agency and is going to want to cash in. The Red Sox should not pay him premium dollars if he has a problem staying on the field. Ellsbury has played in only fifty percent of the Sox games the last three years. Not my idea of a franchise guy. Jackie Bradley Jr. will be major league ready soon so Ellsbury could be expendable this off season if they want anything in return besides a sandwich pick in the 2014 draft. Left field is the big question mark next season. Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, and Ryan Kalish are nice bench players but should not be playing everyday. I would not mind if the Sox brought back Podsednik as this year he had something to prove and he proved it, he can still play, just not everyday. Kalish had another lost season full of injuries and Nava was a pleasant surprise but tailed off at the end. I see the Red Sox trading for a left fielder. Ellsbury in left will not be successful as it was already tried, thanks Mike Cameron.
Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon will be back next year and I believe they should battle for the role of closer. Melancon had a horrible beginning but a great September and Bailey’s last few outings were nothing special. Junichi Tazawa has proven he can get hitters out at the major league level and should be looked at as a seventh or eighth inning guy next season. Alfredo Aceves should not be back next season as he became more of a problem and his pitching got worse towards the end. Craig Breslow could be seen at the lefty in the pen for next season but the rest is unknown. Scott Atchison, Andrew Miller, Rich Hill and Vicente Padilla all could be brought back on minor league contracts, but they have battled injuries and effectiveness as well. The real question mark is Daniel Bard. He cannot be a starter but can he find his form out in the bullpen again? That remains to be seen.
Jarrod Saltamacchia proved he can handle the staff this year, it was his hitting that was the problem. He was on fire for the first two months of the season but the increased workload had to effect his offense as the last few months he was a very weak hitter. Salty has been a streaky hitter his whole career but the Red Sox need to make up their mind on whether to keep him because he will hit free agency soon too. Ryan Lavarnway did not hit too well after his call up from Pawtucketbut has improved his catching ability throughout the season. I believe both players will be at Fenway South for spring training and eventually one will be trading barring an injury.
The only true designated hitter left in baseball, David Ortiz has said he wants to return. He has been holding out on a two year deal and I just cannot see the Red Sox giving a 37 year old DH a two year deal. Last year he would have had more leverage if he had not accepted arbitration but he did and they agreed on a one year deal which he proceeded to whine about. If he wants a two year deal, offer him a one year deal with bonus clauses. He is becoming older and the injuries will come. If he does not accept it let him walk to Cleveland or the Astros.
The Red Sox biggest needs are good starting pitchers and a middle of the order bat. You can never have enough pitching and they should not bring in reclamation projects this off season they need a pitcher who can deal. A middle of the order bat has been missing with the trade of Gonzalez but they need someone who will hit 35-40 home runs and not complain about the market, that will be hard to find. So long 2012 Red Sox you lost 93 games and a lot of fans. I can hardly wait to see the moves Ben Cherrington makes this winter.