Red Sox rewind
Even the most die-hard Red Sox fans know that this season has been over for a while. Too many injuries, too much Yankees and Rays, too much Jonathan Papelbon. It would take a monumental collapse and a huge winning streak for the Sox to even smell the playoffs. But injuries and a few blown saves can only deter a team so much.
Yes, the Sox have lost four opening day starters for the season due to injury (Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia), but in my opinion the 2010 season was doomed from the beginning.
GM Theo Epstein's flawed approach to building a team around pitching and defense left the Sox without the firepower to win games on nights when the pitching wasn't there.
From the start, I didn't see the point in adding John Lackey to a rotation already featuring four potential all-stars. Yes, Lackey was a "big game pitcher" in Anaheim. But without him, the Sox would have had a rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield. Wakefield may not be the stud he was a few years ago, but with those three power pitchers and a grinder at the top of the rotation, a knuckleballer who can eat up innings might not have been such a bad idea every fifth day.
Granted, there weren't a ton of big bats on the free agency market. But how much could it have taken in terms of prospects to take, say, Adam Dunn's expiring contract off of the last-place Nationals' hands? In a perfect world, the Red Sox could have had seven consecutive 30-plus home run hitters in their lineup. Dunn could have played left field where, at Fenway Park, his defensive shortcomings would be minimized. Opponents would also have to choose between depleting their bullpen by working the lefty-righty matchups or leaving a reliever in to battle seven straight power hitters.
The Yankees have taken this approach and are running with it. Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson. Again, all primetime sluggers. The Yankees lineup is relentless. Every spot does damage. Even Brett Gardner is a threat at the nine spot because if he walks or singles, he's almost automatically in scoring position. There is no Marco Scutaro or Mike Cameron-guys who are talented but don't scare anyone. The Yankees roster is scary up and down.
And that's not to say the Yankees completely ignored pitching. C.C. Sabathia will be the Cy Young, while A.J. Burnett, Javier Vasquez, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes are all solid pitchers. So while the Sox may have had the better pitching rotation, wouldn't you trade a John Lackey type pitcher for an extra bat?
What I'm saying is that in order to compete with the Yankees next year, the Red Sox need to move away from the Little League mentality and start playing like big boys. Good hitting beats good pitching every time. If the Red Sox want to win in 2011, Epstein can't have Scutaro and Cameron facing Sabathia for eight innings and Mariano Rivera in the ninth when it counts.