After having one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Boston Red Sox decided to clean house by relieving manager Bobby Valentine of his duties and by orchestrating the infamous “Mega Deal”. With general manager Theo Epstein also deciding to step down in 2011 marking the “End of an Era” in Beantown, will the New Look Sox be the Same Old Chokes?
New General Manager, Ben Cherington, and newly instated Head Coach, John Farrell, were given an off season to fix the gaping holes in the franchise. The Sox had looked on to a new catchphrase, “Spend Little, Gain Big.” This was the hope for Boston as they struck first in the 2012 Winter Meetings. Offering a three year $39 million contract to Mike Napoli which seemed to be the first puzzle piece, but ended up not being the right fit. With Boston medics waving the red flag on Napoli due to nagging hip injuries, the Sox initially decided to hold off on the deal.
In the meantime, they were able to sign veteran outfielder Shane Victorino, and veteran pitcher Ryan Dempster. Along with trading for star closer Joel Hanrahan, the Sox looked like a revamped squad ready for the hardships of the upcoming season. Though everything seemed to be coming together quite nicely for Boston, there was still one question on everybody’s mind: “What was the status on Mike Napoli”? The Sox were quick to answer as he was eventually signed to a one year $5 million deal.
Though there is a lot of hype surrounding this season for Boston, all the speculation seems frighteningly similar to the Sox 2010 season. The same year when stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were signed to a combined fourteen year $296 million contract. The same year of the “September Collapse” where Boston missed out on the playoffs, having virtually a 99.6 % chance of making. The year that sparked the “Mega Deal”. Yeah, that year.
On September 3, 2011, the Red Sox were 84-54 after defeating the Texas Rangers and held a nine game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card. On September 28, their season was over after a disastrous 7-20 month that saw them drop five of six to the Baltimore Orioles, and in their final game, blowing a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two strikes.
This type of play, including a tanked 2012 season, caused the trade that shed the enormous contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto. $271.5 million to be exact. This gave the Sox financial flexibility that permitted the signings of Victorino, Dempster and Napoli. Though it seems that Boston can now look towards greener pastures, what really can be expected out of this team? 90 wins seems like a stretch considering the heavy artillery of fellow teams in the AL East. A more reasonable prediction would be somewhere around the 70-75 win mark for this rebuilding squad.
For now, we’ll just have to wait it out and see what becomes of the New Look Sox. Stay Tuned.