Which Gifts Under The Red Sox Christmas Tree Will Work?


Saying that the Red Sox had a lot of problems to fix this off season is like witnessing the sinking of the Titanic and saying, “I think that boat has a hole in it.” If we rewind the clock just five months ago, the Red Sox were in bona fide free fall. Bobby Valentine had become, at best, impotent and, at worst, the target of both fan and player vitriol.

Then came Boston’s first, biggest and earliest Christmas present with Magic Johnson of all people playing both Santa Claus and, at least through the view of my Red Sox glasses, a stooge. In one blessed day he took over $260 million in payroll off Boston’s books as the Sox unloaded under-performing and souring big name players. Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford  (Nick Punto also was part of the deal) were gone. Poof! Just like that. Uncork the champagne; the New Year holiday had arrived early.

Valentine fired: The gift that keeps on giving Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Valentine was fired in short order at the end of Boston’s worst year since 1965. After that performance, or lack thereof, I think it’s safe to say that Bobby V will never manage in Major League Baseball again – another gift given by the Red Sox to the rest of what was, at the time, baseball’s unwitting cadre of owners.

The Sox have been by far the most active team in baseball during the off season. Here’s a list of their presents and a short synopsis.

Bobby Valentine
Fired. The gift that keeps on giving.

John Farrell
Hired. Boston’s shiny new girlfriend for the holidays. He’s new and exciting and, and, well, we’ll see what happens when we see the girlfriend without her makeup on.

Mike Napoli
Boston bought him as a possible diamond in the rough but now appears to be backing away from this un”hip” lump of coal.

Shane Victorino
Boston’s other $39 million man, Victorino gives Boston outfield flexibility and a solid club house presence. You can tear up the gift receipt on this one. It fits. No need to return it.

Dec 19, 2012; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; The recently signed right handed pitcher Ryan Dempster takes a seat at the Boston Red Sox press conference at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Dempster
Coming from the Island of Misfit Toys (the Cubs), Dempster has been an inning eating machine and will need to perform the same 180-200+ inning work for Boston. This toy worked fine in the National League. The children of Red Sox Nation eagerly await to see if it works in the AL East.

Stephen Drew
It’s hard to get excited about this gift. We get the same new shortstop present every year and it always breaks. Then I’m sad.

September 20, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Jonny Gomes (31) in the dugout during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Jonny Gomes
Bought as a fire sale item. With tattoos galore and a righteous chin full of whiskers, Gomes was irresistible as the bad boy toy of the season. He will platoon left field with other toys of the same, albeit decidedly more clean cut, caliber (Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava). Farrell may have to decide one to play with most before the All-Star break.

David Ross
Well backstop seasons greetings! Solid insurance at catcher. Not so sure Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway are feeling so ho, ho, ho about it.

Good Medicine
Not many people know that the Red Sox went without a Medical Director last season. The Sox’ head internist, Dr. Larry Ronan, was recently named Medical Director. The Sox also named physical therapist Dan Dyrek coordinator of sports medicine services as part of a year long restructuring of the medical staff according to Sox GM Ben Cherington. He’s hoping for a better diagnosing track record than Ellsbury’s 2010 rib injuries.

Big Papi Back Under The Tree
After a bit of pissy squabbling  – almost entirely on the part of David Ortiz – Boston signed their slugging DH to two-year, $26 million contract. Rest easy Nation. Your favorite plaything is back. Let’s hope his Achilles heel is too.

August 29, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan (52) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Hanrahan
Boston is taking this Christmas shopping thing seriously this year. Cherington’s elves have been busy negotiating with Pittsburg closer Harahan right up until the holiday shopping deadline. Hanrahan will likely become a member of the Red Sox, just not wrapped up in a red bow in time for December 25th.

And a Partridge and Three New Coaches
Torey Lovullo, Bench Coach, former team: Toronto Blue Jays. Cool footnote: Farrell’s friend and colleague for 20 years.
Brian Butterfield, Third Base Coach, former team: Toronto Blue Jays. Cool footnote: A native of Bangor, ME, Butterfield is a New Englander coming home.
Juan Nieves, Pitching Coach, former team: Chicago White Sox. Cool footnote: Nieves tossed a no-hitter vs. the Orioles in 1987.

Merry Christmas baby
Babe you sure did treat me nice
Yeah! merry merry merry Christmas baby
Babe you sure did treat me nice
Gave me a diamond ring for Christmas
And now I’m living in paradise
– Merry Christmas Baby, Otis Redding