So passes another offseason, and what an offseason at that!
The Red Sox land Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, pushing one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball through the roof. The bullpen has been solidified with the aquisitions of Bobby Jenks and the toast of Warwick, Dan Wheeler.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were jilted by Cliff Lee. See Yankee fans? That’ll teach you for spitting on the wife of a player you want playing for you. What goes around comes around.
The team looks good this year. Especially in light of Tampa’s fall from grace and New York’s offseason issues, Boston seems to be the pick of the litter. Yes, that’s right Wallace Matthews, I don’t care that the Yankees signed Soriano, the Sox are still the winners in this offseason.
While he is certainly excellent, Soriano can’t possibly be a better setup man than Kerry Wood was during his stint in the Bronx last year. Wood was untouchable with a 0.69 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. I’d like to see Soriano top that.
Matthews was quick to point that the Sox major aquisitions only improved the team’s greatest strength and didn’t address any of the weaknesses. But the New York bullpen was one of the strongest in the league, so doesn’t the Soriano signing do the same? Also, the Sox offense may have been one of the best, but it did so without three of its top hitters and with one of the worst outfields in baseball. The tandem of Crawford and Gonzalez, matched with the return of Pedroia, Youkilis, and Ellsbury, looks to push the offense to stratospheric levels.
The signings of Jenks and Wheeler help to strengthen the greatest weakness of the Red Sox, the bullpen. Last year it was Daniel Bard and Jonathon Papelbon and that was it. When Scott Atchison was your third best pitcher out of the ‘pen, you knew something was wrong. Jenks, like Papelbon had a rough season last year, but isn’t far removed from being one of the better closers in the AL. Wheeler had a strong year last year for Tampa, posting a 3.35 ERA and should help those middle innings.
No moves were made to address the struggles of the rotation, but that can only be because nobody seriously believes that Lackey and Beckett will repeat such a poor performance. Lackey was started off rather poorly but was at least consistent and almost always made it into the seventh. Towards the end of the season, he seemed to pull it together a bit, posting a 3.73 in September.
Beckett in particular was a complete disaster, starting with a 4.2 inning, five run disaster against the Yankees on opening day. There were bright spots, but overall it was one of the worst seasons of his career, posting a 6-6 record with a 5.78 ERA. The only comparably bad season was 2006, his first with the Sox where he posted a 5.01 ERA. But remember how he followed that up? Oh yeah, 2007. That was a pretty good year for him.
Theo Epstein believes that Daisuke Matsuzaka showed some very promising moments last year that signaled a strong 2011. Even if Lester and Buchholz regress a bit, the rotation still should be one of if not the best rotation in baseball, though I believe the Phillies hold that title.
At least until opening day.
Should be a hell of a season.
Less than a month until Truck Day.