December 27, 2012
On the Beat
Remaking the Red Sox
The Red Sox made no secret of the fact that they wanted to shake up their roster and the clubhouse chemistry that had gone bad when they traded condescending Josh Beckett, sulking Adrian Gonzalez, and deer-in-the-highlights-like Carl Crawford to the Dodgers in a blockbuster trade in August along with innocent bystander Nick Punto. The Red Sox only confirmed their desire to rebuild when they fired manager Bobby Valentine at the end of the 2012 seasons.
The Red Sox certainly have a different look now. According to Baseball Prospectus' Jason Martinez at his great website, mlbdepthcharts.com, eight members of the Red Sox' projected 2013 Opening Day roster were not with the club at the end of last season when Boston finished 69-93: Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Ryan Dempster, Joel Hanrahan and Koji Uehara.
Most likely, Victorino (right fielder), Napoli (first baseman), Drew (shortstop), and Gomes (right fielder) will play regularly, Ross will start against left-handers in a platoon at catcher with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Dempster will join the starting rotation, Hanrahan will be the closer, and Uehara will be a set-up reliever.
While the Red Sox are different, we must ask whether they are appreciably better. That's a hard question for baseball people to answer. Among seven front-office types and scouts surveyed, three answered yes, three answered no, and one abstained when asked if the Red Sox had improved their roster enough to contend in the American League East in 2013.
Said one front-office type in the ‘yes’ camp: "They've really solidified their team on the field, and all the toxins should be removed from the clubhouse because you're adding some really top-of-the-line human beings in Victorino, Gomes, Ross, Demspter and Hanrahan. That whole clubhouse needed fumigated, and it has been."
Said one scout who voted no: "I understand what they're trying to do there, and they definitely have a better mix of people in the clubhouse, but they didn't add any true impact players. You need impact players to win in the American League East, and they don't have enough of them."