The Boston Red Sox are looking to the present and future as the start of the regular season begins today. Last year was a train wreck which made the Red Sox front office were looking at potential free agents who not only were skilled players, but were also strong in character.
In the offseason, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington started making phone calls to agents with those players that filled that description. One of those players was catcher David Ross. Ross, who played for the Red Sox in a previous stint, is going to be a backup catcher for Boston and provides the type of moral fiber the Red Sox were looking for.
Cherington told Peter Abraham from The Boston Globe:
“It has to start with talent. There were areas we had to upgrade. But there was a layer below that. We weren’t trying to create chemistry. We were trying to get as many guys on the team that would embrace playing in Boston.”
Playing in a market like Boston is tough. Players need to have a tough skin to block out the criticism from the media and fans. Some players think that they can handle it such as Carl Crawford, but buckle under the pressure. Cherington had the tough task to find players who would add both skill and character to the team, but wanted to play in Boston.
Not only did the Red Sox add Ross, but also brought in outfielder Jonny Gomes for a two-year $10 million contact. Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster were also added to the team to help gel the team together. Mike Napoli gave the team another strong bat and Stephen Drew help bring experience to the shortstop position.
In Boston trying to recreate the same type of chemistry that produced the 2004 and 2007 World Series titles is impossible. Those teams, especially in 2004, had All-Star players and mentally came together at the right time. That type of lightning doesn’t strike twice.
It doesn’t hurt to still try and make a similar version of those teams with All-Star players and role players. To do this, the Red Sox did bring former players like Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez in to mentor players both mentally and physically. The Red Sox feel that they have a great mix of leaders, rookies, and role players to have season that will make fans forget about 2012.
This year, Red Sox fans are demanding a lot from the Red Sox organization from the front office to the players. The fans have shown their frustration with Fenway Park on the verge of losing their consecutive sellout streak. There are signs of promise for this year and the biggest test is how they handle that adversity if the Red Sox do not get off to a good start, especially with the weight of 2012 on their shoulders.