Rebuid or Contender

I have been a fan of the Red Sox for as long as I can remember and I can honestly say that last year was one of the hardest seasons to watch. Hired and fired new manager Bobby Valentine, a blockbuster trade or shall I say, garage sale of three of the biggest names on the roster {Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett} and a last place finish in the division had me wondering how long it would take to get back to the post season. 

Of course  with free agency, a team can re-establish it’s dominance by big name acquisitions over the winter meetings, but that idea hasn’t worked for the Sox in recent memory. The signing of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez at the end of the 2010 season had promise of a deep postseason run in 2011 and the years to follow. Instead, it led to one of the worst September finishes in league history in 2011, going 7-20 for the month and blowing a 9 game lead in the AL Wild Card race. With a loaded pitching staff and a line up that led the league in hits, runs, RBIs, and third in HRs no one was surprised that Terry Francona, the man who delivered 2 World Series titles, wasn’t returning as Manager in 2012. 

Now 2012 is behind us, and the Red Sox started 2013 by welcoming back a familiar and well respected name and face. John Farrell returns to the Red Sox, where he was the Pitching Coach from 2007-2010, to become the Manager of the team. I have to say, with the pitching situation being as inconsistent as it has been since he left to be the Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, this hiring brings a sense of hope along with it. Hope that he can breathe life back into the slumping arm of Jon Lester, John Lackey’s reconstructed arm, and the psyche of Daniel Bard, while cultivating the chemistry of this team of new and old faces. A daunting task it might seem. Or is it?…

The Red Sox have elected to not chase the big name free agents like Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke. They focused on a more chemistry driven approach, signing working class free agents i.e. LF Jonny Gomes, OF Shane Victorino, First Baseman Mike Napoli, Shortstop Stephen Drew, and Pitchers Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara. A trade for Closer Joel Hanrahan and avoiding arbitration with seven members of the team including Jacoby Ellsbury and newly acquired Hanrahan, rounds out an off season for a team that may be more of an AL contender than in the beginning of a rebuilding era. 

With Pitchers and Catchers getting set to report to Spring Training, I am excited about the possibilities. #TeamRedSox!!!!

Farewell. Tim Wakefield Retires

Photo courtesy of sports.yahoo.com

As a Redsox fan, today I am saddened by the retirement of Knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield. The durable veteran played 19 seasons in the majors , 17 of which were in a Redsox uniform. The wily veteran ended his career with a record of 200-180 and a 4.41 ERA. With a total of 186 victories for the Sox, only the great Cy Young and Roger Clemens have more victories with Boston. Talk about elite company. Wakefield was one of Boston’s most reliable pitchers. Though his fastball could only reach 72mph, Tim was called upon to be a starter, come out of the pen, and be a closer when needed. He could do it all, did it all, and did it well!!! 

Wakefield played in 16 postseason games for the Sox, one of which I wish I could forget, and I am sure he does too. The ’03 American League Championship Series against the hated Yankees. I thought it was our time, and then my world was crushed as Aaron Boone hit the walk-off home run off Wake to end the series. He walked off the field with his head down, and I honestly thought that would be his last in a Sox uniform, but I was happy to be wrong. He returned in ’04 and played a huge roll in the “Greatest Comeback in Sports History”! Even though, he gave up that homerun the previous year, Wakefield owned the Yankees hitters for much of his Boston career. He played the relief role in the ’04 AL Championship Series collecting a victory in game 5 as the Redsox marched towards its first World Series win in 86 years.

The ride was long and the road was a little bumpy at times but the rewards were plentiful. Two World Series rings, a winning record as a starter, soon a retired jersey and your number hung on the Ring Of Honor in Fenway should be the final piece to a storied career. On behalf myself and all of Redsox Nation, a tip of the cap and a big Thank you Tim! Enjoy your retirement.

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