Thursday, October 27, 2005

Christmas Shopping Already

"Baseball isn't a matter of life or death; it's a lot more important than that."

The Red Sox are officially no longer the World Champions. They enter the Hot Stove League with numerous question marks and around 90 million dollars or so already committed to the roster. So what can Sox fans dream about in their stockings?

The Sox have pretty much always been about hitting, but never won it until the pitching produced. The rotation presumably builds around Schilling, Papelbon, Clement, and Wakefield. Wells wants out and who knows if Arroyo has another gear. Is he committed to keeping his day job? Every Sox fan from Bangor to Block Island longs for the power lefthander, and we fantasize about the prospects of Jon Lester being that guy. It's hard to know if the Sox are desperate enough to try (foolishly) to trade Ramirez (the Ortiz protection) for more pitching.

In the pen, Timlin likely will return, and we expect more from Delcarmen and Hansen. Foulke, the deserved MVP of the 2004 series amazingly will have to prove himself as though a rookie.

In the infield, the only 'sure' thing is Edgar Renteria at shortstop. Statistically he is likely to be better offensively and defensively. The Sox will give Pedroia a shot a second, with Cora an able back up, and some combination of Youkilis and a free agent will likely patrol the corners.

Presuming Manny stays, the Sox need to make a decision in center whether Johnny Damon is on the health and productivity downswing and whether Trot Nixon has adequate health to contribute. For a team historically built around right-handed power, the supply has faultered. Apres Manny, nada.

So, at worst, there are holes or question marks at the corners, second, center and right (Nixon inheriting the Tim Naehring Whirlpool Guy Award). And people say the Sox don't have the need for a 'great' GM.

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