NESN's Forcing a Faux-Organic Infomercial Thinly Disguised as The World's Clunkiest Cliched Soft Rap Anthem Down Our Throats This Tune Makes the Bears' Super Bowl Shuffle Sound Like the Star Spangled Banner Werner's Backup Plan Was to Have the 1-877-CARS-FOR-KIDS Kid Sing It How Nice They Pay Tribute to Me, Twice. Sincerely, Johnny Ray Damon Only Surprise Is That Liverpool and Fenway Roush Weren't Weaved In Do the Celtics Still Play in Boston with BC and BU? Gratuitous Use of "Gossip Girl." Check. What Would Terry Cashman Do? At Least the Fans Like It (Gulp) ...
"... We're all in, yes, we're all in. Baseball and Boston, [what?] It's everything...
... it took 86 years and we put that curse to sleep ..." -- From the lyrics in NESN's new rap venture undoubtedly approved by the good folks at Fenway Sports Group formerly known as New England Sports Ventures (NESV) ...
Last year in these pages we spoke of the Red Sox’ surprising off-season direction of pursuing run prevention. For one reason or another, the run prevention part of the formula didn’t quite work out, and the Sox ranked 11th in the AL in runs allowed. But somehow that offense everyone was worried about rose to the occasion and kept the team in contention until the weight of injuries eventually carried them under.
It is easy to remember the criticism of the 2009/10 offseason. After two years where the offense had struggled when it counted most, many theorized that bringing in players like Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre, and Mike Cameron (while waving goodbye to Jason Bay) was going to make things even worse and submarine the team’s chances. Funny how things work out.
While early returns were poor on both sides of the ball, a hot streak starting in May brought the Red Sox offense up near the top of the league before those injuries slowed them down in August. In all, they finished second in the AL in runs scored, first in OPS and OPS+, third in OBP, second in slugging, and second in home runs. When you consider the team finished the year without Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Cameron, or Jacoby Ellsbury, those rankings start to look even better.
Despite this, for the second straight year the Red Sox seemingly zigged when people were expecting a zag. They made two huge splashes in the offseason to improve the offense when they traded for Adrian Gonzalez and later came seemingly out of nowhere to sign Carl Crawford. Why improve what should have been the best offense in league? There are a few reasons. The players Theo Epstein liked were available and he took the opportunity to get them. A second is that Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez never looked to be serious candidates to return.
But, perhaps the most important reason is long-term planning. Table 1 shows the Red Sox lineup for 2010 and also projected lineups for 2011–2014. In these charts, players in bold are what we could call good bets—established players under contract. You can see in the “before” charts that after 2011, there is not a lot of bold ink. Some liberal guessing is made here, including that Ryan Kalish and Jose Iglesias will be ready in 2012. The lineups also rely on Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie to hold onto starting jobs. But a team with the Red Sox’ resources should have a couple more “sure things.” And, as has been mentioned elsewhere in this magazine, the prospects of impact free agents becoming available in this timeframe are not great. So the Red Sox made their move, and, assuming they get a deal done with Gonzalez, those future lineups look a lot stronger.
On top of what we project out here, the Sox have added some depth to cover the “what ifs.” For instance, in the “be-fore” scenario, the Sox needed to find an outfielder in 2012 even if Kalish pans out. Maybe that would be Josh Reddick, but it’s better to bet on those two guys to fill one slot instead of two. Similarly, if Jose Iglesias’s bat does not let him be a major league regular, the Sox would not have to find a shortstop in 2012, but a DH, moving Lowrie to short and keeping Youkilis at third and Gonzalez at first. In a way Lars Anderson becomes a back-up plan to Iglesias.
Most important are the ages on the chart (in parentheses). This is now a team built around three high-level players in their prime and a fourth (Youkilis) just leaving it. Even if the kids don’t work out, these four players will be a good enough core that role players can be brought in. Or, as is the case this year at the catcher position, the offense is strong enough elsewhere for the Red Sox to take a risk.
What is on our mind right now, though, is 2011. The Opening Day lineup could have as many as five different players from the one that closed the 2010 season. Let’s take a look at the changes, for better and worse, and what we expect overall from the redesign.
Fired TV Bad Boy Plans to Purchase Red Sox from John Henry Sheen: 'I Made Henry a Bitchin’ Offer He Couldn't Refuse'
In a rare sit down interview with Boston Dirt Dogs, "Charlie Sheen" breaks his silence and talks about his future beyond Two and a Half Men:
BDD [Boston Dirt Dogs]: So how do you feel the morning after getting fired from your TV show? Have you hit rock bottom?
CS [Charlie Sheen]: Rock bottom? That’s a fishing term. I literally woke up and it was Christmas. I'm done with TV and want to get back to my first love, baseball. So I tweeted John Henry over in London and made him an offer for the Red Sox... and he's taking it. He's out. Between all his success with Liverpool and Roush Fenway Racing, the wiry billionaire's got his hands full and wants to unload the little ballclub in Boston. And I'm just the guy to take it off his hands. I’ve got magic. I’ve got poetry at my fingertips. I've still got my Bill Buckner ball around here somewhere... We're going to get this franchise back to Winning! Duh...
BDD: Congratulations. So as the new owner, will you be involved in the day-to-day activity of the Red Sox?
CS: Yes. I'll be there every day as the owner, GM, manager, set-up man for Papelbon, Rock Star. I might do it all. I'm a winner. The scoreboard doesn’t lie. Never has. I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total, bitchin’ rock star from Mars. Come on bro, I won best picture at 20. Bring me a challenge. Somebody.
BDD: What about Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, are they out, too?
CS: They can’t hang with me. Their bones would melt like wax. Werner? He's was kicking around Hollywood turning pure gold into tin cans while I was hitting grand slams as a kid. Roseanne [Barr] made him the way I made those small house trolls at CBS when I showed up and this dude [Two And a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre], friend of Werner no less, won the lottery. And so I always felt like, ‘Why am I being treated like an unwelcome relative and being given cold coffee at, like, 8 p.m. in the middle of the fourth inning?' ... And did you see Werner throwing dirt on Kelsey Grammar's grave with Hank? Has anyone seen John Lithgow or Jeffrey Tambor since Twenty Good Years had its epic three-week run? No, Tom will stay with John over in England while we rebuild this ballclub. Larry [Lucchino] may be the only adult in the room over there. He scares me a little. I may have to keep him around for a while... but just sit back and enjoy the show. I’m going to win every moment.
BDD: So what are some of your immediate plans when you take over the club?
CS: I’m going to hang out with two smoooooking hotties and fly privately around the world, then I’m just going to sail across the winds of the universe with my goddesses.
BDD: Are you talking about Natalie [bikini model] and Rachel [retired film star]?
CS: No. Heidi Watney and Linda Pizzuti. Keeping them both around. I dare them to keep up with me. I tried marriage. I’m 0-for-3 with the marriage thing. So, being a ballplayer, I believe in numbers. I’m not going 0-for-4. I’m not wearing a golden sombrero. ... Oh and this just in: I’ve already signed on my old friend Hazel Mae to return to SportsDesk. No more NESN Daily. And we're gonna find out whose responsible for OK'ing the rest of the godawful shows that I've been watching on NESN. We’re shaking the tree. We’re shaking all the trees. When I'm done with NESN, people can’t stop watching. Change the channel, I dare ya.
BDD: So to be clear, no more Theo [Epstein] pulling the strings?
CS: I like Theo. But he wouldn't know a bullpen from Bull Durham. Don’t be worried, don’t be worried. I am grandiose. Because I live a grandiose life. I can do this without Theo. And Tito's grown soft, tired of watching his Laurel & Hardy sketch comedy with Pedroia. We need to shake things up in the dugout, maybe I'll bring in my old friend Ozzie Guillen. He's a lifetime member of the Winner's Circle. And we can put Bobby Jenks's locker right next to Ozzie in the clubhouse at Fenway. How funny will that be? Teamwork. Bang.
BDD: So what moves would you make to strengthen the bullpen?
CS: First off, I'm telling Papelbon to get back to his Wild Thing haircut. That's what made him great. That's what he's gotten away from. Plus it worked for me. Pap only brings the passion when talking about his contract now. Fastball: He's got to throw a second pitch. ... You know a lot of people think Major League’s called Wild Thing. As they should.
BDD: So what's the deal with the Tiger blood?
CS: [Having tiger blood is] a metaphor for having absolute rocket fuel in my veins. When it comes to getting focused and delivering things in a way.... but I do have Tiger's blood running through me, but it happened after a wild night in Vegas when I ran into Tiger Woods at the Hard Rock Hotel bar... long story for another day.
BDD: Any other Red Sox player moves you can share?
CS: I will tell you this, I’m going to get Manny, Johnny Damon, D-Lowe, and Pedro [Martinez] back here by the trading deadline to make our run this year. We’re going to do it old school, playing old time baseball. Idiots and Dirt Dogs. I might even bring in Grady Little and Bill Buckner as first and third base coaches for the postseason. Don't tell Tito. My success rate is 100 percent. Do the math. The only thing I’m addicted to right now is winning. I don’t have burnout in my gear box. Hope is for suckers and tools. You make a choice to win, and you win... now go back to the troll hole where you came from...