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Three Problems the Red Sox Must Fix For a World Series in 2011

I have seen (and laughed at) many Boston Red Sox fans who believe that the Red Sox need to clean house this off-season to have any success next year. The Red Sox had the tenth best record in all of baseball.

That might not seem impressive, but it truly is considering the injury struggles Boston endured. People can argue that Papelbon was, at times, a major reason for the Red Sox struggles, and they would not be wrong. However, can you really argue that the Red Sox are a better team without Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Victor Martinez?

Replacement players like Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava certainly stepped up to the challenge and played at high levels, but both offensively and defensively, the Red Sox stalwarts were missed.

Marco Scutaro had a very successful campaign, although his season went very much unnoticed. He bat leadoff for most of the season, replacing Ellsbury, and hit .275 with 11 home runs and a .333 OBP. Considering that most people (myself included) thought of Scutaro as a number 8 or 9 hitter, his season was great.

Lastly, the starting pitching could have been better. Buchholz and Jon Lester both had Cy Young caliber seasons, and Daisuke had some great starts. However, I expect Josh Beckett to pitch much better next season. I predict a 15-16 win season with an ERA just under 4.

This gives the Sox a very formidable top four, with Jon Lackey (who I hope can pull it together, like he did at times last season), closing it out.

Let me get to my point: The Red Sox do not need to clean house to have success next year. They have great young talent, an elite pitching staff, and frankly only a couple of true question marks.

The question marks include:

1. Left Field:

The team can split time between Kalish, McDonald and Nava, but if the team can land a Jayson Werth or even a Carl Crawford, the Sox would have a top ranked outfield.

Wouldn’t the team be much more threatening with Werth than any of the above three? They could fill in if injuries occur once again, or as fourth/fifth outfielders.

In this scenario, I think the Sox could benefit more from Werth, even though Crawford has experience playing the Green Monster, just because the Sox need a powerful right-handed bat in the lineup.
2.Bullpen: How many games did this unit blow last season? 23. The unit had 23 blown saves last season. If that number is even halved, the team will make the playoffs.

I’d like to see the team make a move on a big-name reliever, like Rafael Betancourt, or Rafael Soriano, along with a player to add more depth and competition to the bullpen, such as Danny Baez.
3. Adrian Beltre or Victor Martinez:

If the Red Sox don’t sign Beltre, they’ll have to make a very strong push to pick up Adrian Gonzalez. That way, Youk would play third and Gonzalez would handle first base.

If the team doesn’t sign Martinez, they’ll have to rely on Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a young and still developing catcher. I think the Sox pick up Martinez, let Beltre walk, make a push for Jayson Werth and potentially put Lowrie at third or bring in Adrian Gonzalez.

Still, if the Red Sox went into the season with the exact, identical team with which they went into the 2010 campaign, they’ll be a playoff team, plain and simple.

Nevertheless, I’d like the Sox to make a splash in free agency, just to change the dynamic of the team and bring some life back into the organization.

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  1. Instead of one or the other of Crawford or Werth, why not both? Put J.D. in a trade package (along with Matsuzka and perhaps Lackey) to get Zack Greinke and you’d have a stellar outfield. As for the infield, sign Beltre, put Lowrie at SS and Scutaro on the bench. With Pedey at 2nd and Youk at 1st, we’d have an equally stellar infield. Sign V-Mart to 3 years AND ‘Tek for one. Send Salty to Pawtucket until the September call-ups. Pick up David’s option or extend him for two years. No doubt about “Buckles” and Lester. I’d keep Beckett, maybe even Dice K. But I’d sure make a huge push to get Grenke and who says its an automatic that the MFYs get Cliff Lee? Imagine Buckles, Lester, Beckett, Lee, and Greinke as our starters? I’d also keep Papelbon, Bard, Tazawa, Doubront, and Bowden while adding two new faces in the pen.

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    • In terms of the infield: Beltre has had three great years as an MLB player, and the rest of his career has been largely average. Those three great years? Contract seasons. Beltre will be looking for a lot of money and at least 3-4 years, a risk the Red Sox might not be willing to take. Scutaro was a machine last season, and in a lineup full of uncertainty, Scutaro performed admirably at the top of the lineup. Lowrie is still developing, and he is a valuable utility infielder who can play 2B, SS or 3B. I could see the Sox bringing Lars Anderson up while moving Youk to third if they don’t pick up a 1B like Adrian Gonzales.

      Catchers: Varitek would likely be the third catcher, with Salty taking over backup duties for Victor Martinez (who I think the team will sign). Remember, Salty was extremely highly touted, and the Sox almost gave up Buchholz / Lester to grab him.

      Bullpen: Papelbon had the worst season of his career, in terms of ERA, K’s, Walks, BS, etc…

      I don’t think the Royals would trade their star pitcher for an overpaid JD Drew and an under performing righty starter. Also, in terms of money, the Sox would likely have to pick up a large part of Lackey/Daisuke’s contract as well as Drew’s (IF a deal went through, and i don’t think it will).

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