Looking into my Crystal Ball

Well another Red Sox season has come and gone.  Frankly it left me un-satisfied.  Sorta like a meal from Taco Bell.  You go into it with all the hope that it will be good, somewhere along the way you realized it isn’t all that you hoped for and when it’s all over you feel a little ill and not full at all.

Gee, when you compare it like that no wonder we all need to look forward to 2011.  This winter will be like no other in Red Sox history.  They have so many options and so many directions they can go in.  One thing that is for sure is that they will put a contender on the field.  Lets be honest, this team would have been in contention if not for injuries.  Lets see the Yanks compete without Texiera, Cano and Granderson for half the year while your #3 starter struggles with injuries.  Oops, scratch that last one.  What this team accomplished was tremendous.  It also allowed the brass to get some good looks at the kids.

Three things we know for sure about the 2011 Sox is that Mike Lowell will not be there.  Also, Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey and Dice-K will be our five starters and Bard will be in the back-end of the pen and Pedroia will be our 2nd baseman.  Other than those certainties, who really knows.  Crapshoot is what comes to mind.

Here is my plan for the 2011 Olde Towne team.  #1. Sign Adrian Beltre.  He proved his worth and fit in well.  Do i expect those same numbers?  No, but a .300-25-95 year should be the norm over the next 4 years.  Give up those Adrien Gonzalez pipe dreams, it just ain’t happening.  If you can’t sign Beltre, find a cheap alternative and go hard after a FA 1st baseman before 2012. 

#2.  Make a blockbuster trade.  Here is my proposal.  Papelbon, Lowrie,  Doubrount and either Kalish or Reddick to the Dodgers for Broxton, Martin and Kemp.  This is simply a trade of scenery idea for Paps and for Kemp.  Both have fallen out of favor with their respective clubs and swapping coasts may be good for them.  It is also a bit of salary dump for the Dodgers and they get some good young talent in return.  So with this trade you have Kemp, Ellsbury and Drew in the outfield.  Martin can platoon with Varitek behind the plate and Broxton can set up Bard at the end of games.

#3.  Re-build the bullpen.  It starts with Broxton.  Sign Scott Downs for the lefties.  Give Bowden a larger role.  Wake will be there and find some other youngish hard throwing guys trying to rebuild their reputation.  There is always a plethora of pitchers like that on the market.

#4. Re-sign Papi.  What more can he prove.  Yes, this coming from the same guy who called for his release in early May.  Since that day, he was one of the better power hitters in the league.  There is a place for him on this team.  Sign him to a three-year deal with a team/player option for the 4th year and frontload the crap out of it. 

#5. Re-make Josh Beckett.  This could be the hardest task of the winter.  The man is so frigging pig-headed.  That was what made him great before and has slowed him down now.  His fastball is still really good.  His curve is outstanding.  What he needs is a 3rd pitch that drastically changes speeds and his conditioning.  Give up the change-up or re-work it.  The thing is flat and it is sitting at 90.  It is more of a flat fastball than a change.  This is as much a key than any other thing.  They just re-signed him for five more years, they gotta figure something out.

That gives the Red Sox this opening day lineup:  Ellsbury CF, Pedroia 2B, Youkilis 1B, Ortiz DH, Beltre 3B, Kemp LF, Drew RF, Martin/Varitek C and Scutaro SS.  When healthy and with all the arms available, that is a 93-97 win team.  Plus they are a little younger and have a little more payroll flexibility. 

BTW, 132 days till pitchers and catchers.

Oh, I’m not done.  You don’t think I would let my post before the start of the playoffs be without my highly desirable playoff picks?  Please, I know people who base their calender on these prognostications.  So here we go.

Rangers/Rays:  I love the Rangers gumption.  They’ve been a great story and have a really good pitching staff.  Their offense is pretty good.  Here’s the thing, the rays are really, really good.  They won the best division in baseball, that’s gotta tell you something.  Rays in four.

Yankees/Twins:  The Yankees are good, don’t get me wrong.  The problem is they were better in July than they are now.  Pitching is a huge question mark.  After CC, who’s got next?  Regardless of who I root for and how much I abhor the Pinstrippers, I love the Twins.  I love the how they play the game.  They’ve built this team from the ground up and it’s about time for that to pay off.  Twins in five.

Phillies/Reds:  What a great thing for MLB to have a relevant Cincinnati team again.  They are young and exciting.  The problem is they are playing the team that they aim to be.  The Phills are stacked and primed for a deep October run.  Phills in four.

Giants/Braves.  I think this is a HUGE mismatch.  The Braves tried their best to miss the playoffs.  The Giants pitching will be too dominate and they’ll hit just enough.  Giants in a sweep.

I reserve the right to wait to pick my LCS series.  Why, because it’s my blog and I say so.  Enjoy the play-offs!!!


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