Can the Red Sox acquire some quality pitchers? More importantly, can the existing staff get it together again? Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

The AL Beast: Things Are Tough All Over

If the Toronto Blue Jays are any indication of the trend in AL East off season player pursuits, the Red Sox and the rest of the division better get their track shoes on.

What lies ahead. Farrell and company will have their hands full in 2013. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

While Boston has methodically assembled their coaching staff and made one move, signing free agent catcher David Ross (2 years, $6.2 million), the Blue Jays perhaps in fit of pique have taken a decidedly different tack. In one week they have added six, some of which are very high profile, players; pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck and utility infielder Emilio Bonifacio came to Toronto in a mammoth 12 player, $150 million deal. Yesterday it was reported that disgraced outfielder Melky Cabrera (PED) iced a two-year $60 million deal with the Blue Jays. Sweet Mother of Theo Epstein, that’s some righteous cash outlay!

It’s especially curious that of all the teams remaining in the division the top and last place finishers have the most work to do to remain and get competitive. The Yankees won the division last year but as the playoffs revealed, they are aging and their high-priced players are not performing at crunch time. Clearly Alex Rodriguez is not the masher he once was. When you combine massive under performance with child-like petulance and equally immature decision making you end up with a pig that no amount of lipstick will cover up. Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have a lot to think about over the long winter as well.

If the Sox don’t sign Cody Ross, they’ll have another hole plug up. Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Our cellar dwelling Red Sox have massive work to do if they are to get back to respectability in 2013. Holes at first base, shortstop, right field and left field will force Boston to get in the free agency game soon if they’re serious about the 2013 season. To that point, Boston’s rumor mill has had little grist over the past month. Some reports reveal a management team being outflanked, perhaps by design.

Once you’ve been through your own orgiastic spending spree that resulted in zero championships, fan and player unhappiness and a once stellar now seriously tarnished reputation you might be predisposed to cool your heels for a bit too.

The Sox were reportedly talking with the Marlins about Jose Reyes and a smaller number of players deal before the Marlins pulled the trigger with the Blue Jays and blew the Sox out of the water. Too bad, so sad – that is unless you’re from Toronto. One word of caution to Blue Jays fans and management; be careful what you ask for. Boston lined their streets with gold over the past five years and dead ended in baseball hell.

Only through Magic Johnson’s beneficent gullibility does Boston have the flexibility to quickly move forward if they so choose.

The elephant in the room, to invoke the phrase that BSI writer Earl Nash chants and should be patented, is Boston’s “Ace-Hole” pitching problem. It remains their number one with a bullet issue as they turn the corner on the 2013 season. In a recent article published by ESPN, Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the Red Sox will have one of the highest payrolls by the end of this off season. After the aforementioned five-year failed spending spree Sox fans are more than a little gun shy when they hear this.

It’s the ultimate conundrum. A fan base once starved for a championship gets gets two in four years. The organization becomes an elite franchise. Fans demand more winning. Management responds by competing on the big boy financial stage and in the process becomes what they always hated; a neighborhood bully like the Yankees that swept big names off the trade and free agency table, leaving scraps for the rest of the AL East. The only problem is that the Yankees kept winning, the other teams – the Orioles and Rays in particular – made smart, cost-effective moves and developed players from within their organization while the Sox collapsed inward from their own weight with little bones and sinew from within to hold up the beast.

To spend or not to spend. To bite the bullet and declare a bridge year so as to build for the future. To take a chance on  developing prospects by sticking them in lineup and telling them to give it hell. Boston has options, the clock is ticking on which direction is the best.

If I were Ben Cherington I would:

1. Bring in some quality pitching to stabilize a staff teetering on the precipice of even more mediocrity.
2. Secure the services of Mike Napoli and platoon him with Mauro Gomez at first and David Ross at catcher.
3. Deal Jarrod Saltalamacchia for a corner outfielder.
4. Reach out to Cody Ross, tell him you’re sorry and that you want to kiss and make up. Offer him a sweet deal he can’t refuse, which will still be relatively low dollars.
5. Make Pedro Ciriaco your every day shortstop to start the season and have Iglesias ready as a defensive stopper in the late innings.
6. Call it a day

I so love being the GM from the recliner.

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need
- You Can’t Always Get What You Need, The Rolling Stones 

 

Tags: Boston Red Sox

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