First in a three-part series…
It can be said for every fan in Red Sox nation that turning the page on the 2012 season can’t come fast enough. After a stunning 2011 collapse, 2012 was a season of high expectations that ultimately gave way to crushed hopes and, in its wake, a pivotal collective gut check.
This year was the watershed moment when the halo glow of 2004 and 2007 was eaten alive by the hubris and excess of mammoth long-term bad deals, ego and flat out bad karma. As a Yankee friend of mine said when texting me Wednesday night as the Yankees were busy beating on the Sox and I noted that New York was old, injured and not going anywhere in the playoffs, “How’s the view from the graveyard?” Game, set, match.
Derek Stykalo’s excellent piece on what will surely be a bittersweet upcoming Fenway Park tribute to the 2004 team is proof positive that Boston is at a crossroads. Monuments need not be built. It’s time to start laying brick again.
Which brings us to the current lineup. Two more articles will follow this piece; one on the triple A Pawtucket Red Sox and the second on the 2012 free agent pool. Since the Sox have essentially shot from the hip all season long so can I. Full disclosure: this has nothing to do with the business of baseball. Here goes…
Alfredo Aceves: Go. Poison. The Yankees didn’t get rid of this guy because he’s a bad pitcher.
Scott Atchison: Stay. A lunchpail guy who when healthy is serviceable and he’s been durable with the exception of this year. Then again he played for the Sox, who’s DL list for quite some time during the season looked like the makings of a pretty good team.
Andrew Bailey: Stay. Sure he was injured all year but since he’s been back has been a closer who also knows how to close his mouth and let his pitching do the talking. For the exact opposite, see Aceves, Alfredo.
Daniel Bard: Go. He’s this era’s Steve Blass; a head case who can no longer find the plate.
Craig Breslow: Go. He came to Boston from Arizona in the Matt Albers trade. Ironically, he’s the left handed Albers. Meh.
Clay Buchholz : Stay. He’s 11-6 with a 4.22 ERA. Is that inspiring? Hell no. Is he one of the better professional pitchers Boston has. Hell yes.
Chris Carpenter: Stay. He’s the prospect that was the compensation the Red Sox received for Theo Epstein. He’s ranked 9th in Boston’s top 20 prospects. He gets a buy this year.
Aaron Cook. Go. He’s 3-10 with a chubby ERA. This year’s Eric Gagne experiment is over.
Felix Doubront: Stay. This is the first year for Doubront carrying a major league starting load. Yes, he’s faded down the stretch. Yes, he’s favorable trade bait. There’s just something about this kid that tells me he’s going to get better and stronger.
Rich Hill: Stay. He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery and has spent almost the entire year in the minors. Let’s see what happens next spring.
Jon Lester. Go. His best days in Boston are past. He has soured and he’s turning into a whiner; a whiner that doesn’t win at that.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: Go, go, go! Please! What’s the Japanese phrase for “bust”?
Andrew Miller: Go. A 6-3, 5.54 2011 and a 3-1 3.29 2012 typifies a so-what pitcher.
Clayton Mortensen: Stay. At 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA and getting bounced to the PawSox with the frequency of a cheap ham radio, the Red Sox have yet to see what Mortenson can actually do.
Vicente Padilla. Stay. He’s nasty and I don’t mean just his stuff. He’s almost a dirt dog. At 4-1 with a 4.60 ERA he’s not stellar but can be very effective in spot situations. Plus, any guy who’s got the balls to throw and eephus pitch is worth keeping. The spirit of Bill Lee lives on.
Junichi Tazawa: Stay. He 2-3 this year in limited action wit the big club but has 2.33 ERA.
Ryan Lavarnway: Stay. This is said with a lot of trepidation. Lavarnway gets into prolonged slumps that simply kill his productivity at the plate. He is decent defensively but not much else that’s special can be said about the big guy.
Guillermo Quiroz: Stay. Quiroz came over from the Mariners for cash and considerations. He’s 31 and has been a career minor leaguer since 1999. For what they paid for him, he’s a deal and having a third catcher in baseball today is a must.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Stay. Good guy. Decent catcher. Good teammate. Needs to not have so many slumps in one year.
Mike Aviles: Stay. Aviles has been much better than I suspected he would be. His slash line of .250/.281/.384 is just OK but he’s been durable, steady and a decent fielder at .967. Boston should keep him because he’ll be a good utility man once the the shortstop position is taken over in 2013 by…
Pedro Ciriaco: Stay. This guy is the real deal. The very freewheeling attitude at the plate that makes him exciting is also his achilles heel. Ciriaco will need to become much more disciplined at the plate, go deeper into counts which will let him see better pitches, get more walks and strike out less. Otherwise, this guy is ready for prime time.
Ivan de Jesus: Stay. He came over in the Dodgers deal. He can back up Pedey and just may turn into a decent all around utility infielder.
Mauro Gomez. Stay. A suitable back up for James Loney or Will Middlebrooks, Gomez is batting nearly .300 and is steady in the field.
Jose Iglesias: Stay. Back to the minors. It’s a shame. The kid is a wizard in the field but will have to learn to hit better than his hat size (currently .069) or he won’t make it anywhere in the majors.
James Loney. Stay. A Dodger trade acquisition, Loney is playing a solid first base for Boston. He’s a free agent in 2013 so developing or shopping for a first baseman may be a smart hedge bet.
Dustin Pedroia. Stay. I never thought I’d grudgingly say he should stay but Pedey revealed an ugly side this year when faced with adversity and his first losing season with the Sox. Man up. Be a leader in all circumstances and everything else will take care of itself.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Stay. Stay healthy. Stay cognizant of the balance between your talent and penchant for injury when you hit the 2013 free agent market. I love the guy. I intensely dislike his agent, Scott Boras.
Ryan Kalish. Stay. That is unless anything shakes out in the off-season where Kalish can be used as a bargaining chip or deal sweetener.
Daniel Nava. See above.
Scott Podsednik: Stay. Scotty Pods has had a cool run with Boston in 2012. Playing well through his here, then gone then here again ups and downs makes his game and demeanor and good fit for spot and injury starts for another year.
Cody Ross. Stay. A big stay. He’s a dirt dog of the highest order. He bat speakers volumes. His clubhouse presence and attitude is a big plus. OK, so he’s no star outfielder. Neither was Trot Nixon.
John Lackey. Go. Teammates love him; he’s gotta go. Pitchers many times are better after Tommy John surgery; he’s gotta go. He’s got such a sunny disposition. Oh wait – that’s not true at all.
Will Middlebrooks. Stay. He was having a solid rookie season before he got injured. He’ll be Boston’s starting third baseman on opening day and I predict for years to come.
Franklin Morales: Stay. Morales spot started, injury started and pitched out of the bullpen effectively for the most part.
David Ortiz. Stay. He was central to keeping Boston close for a time this year. When he went down, all the air came out of the balloon. Give him a two-year deal next year. If he tanks, the club has thrown money away on players a lot less valuable to the organization. Consider it a parting gift.
Ryan Sweeney: Stay. Sweeney needs to have a clause put in his contract that he can’t take stupid pills and if he’s injured due to self-infliction again, he’s suspended without pay for the duration of the injury.
Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
- Should I Stay Or Should I Go?, The Clash