Sunday, July 22, 2007

You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too

Red Sox fans, like others, want to have youth and experience, production and development, a minor league system that can grow prospects like the Twins and yet a parent club that is willing to spend money like drunken sailors...but with more efficiency.

As the trading deadline nears, the Sox principal need is right-handed power. Although Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia have overachieved, neither provides much power. The three-four duo of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez have not produced as much as expected, because of injury (Ortiz) and probably because of lack of protection for Ramirez, as J.D. Drew has struggled mightily.

The bullpen has carried the team, with Papelbon, Okajima, Delcarmen, and recently Timlin all providing overproduction. The rotation has stabilized with Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Gabbard, with Schilling on the fast track to return, and Wakefield once again delivering innings and .500 ball.

The bench has limited speed, and the quartet of Cora, Mirabelli, Pena, and Hinske doesn't provide "quality flexibility." Presuming the Sox can make the playoffs, it is reasonable to assume that Ellsbury will have a speed and defensive role, and if they started tomorrow, Wily Mo would have to sit. Period.

Everyone wants Buchholz and Ellsbury, whom the Sox will not trade easily. More problematic are the future of Moss and Murphy, both lefthanded hitters, with Moss seeming to have more value. A minimum quintet of value remains
on the minor league mound, with Jon Lester, Michael Bowden, the fast-rising Justin Masterson (a beast, allowing only one run in three double A starts), Craig Hansen who has regained his slider, and Daniel Bard who is working his way back from injury and control problems.

Sox fans have lost confidence in Theo Epstein's ability to rate major league talent, which only makes it worse. Currently, the Sox cannot be rated the favorite in the AL with the Tigers having the strongest overall team, unless Epstein's acquisitions miraculously revert to form (Lugo has recently). Sox fans must urge patience, lest the Bagwell Blunder be repeated by the current administration.

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