For the first time since John Henry’s purchase of the team in 2002, the Red Sox have plunged into mediocrity.
The team hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008 and has failed to make the postseason for two consecutive seasons, the first time that has happened under this ownership group.
Theo Epstein, who built an organization that was once the envy of baseball, fled to Chicago to run the Cubs just two weeks after Terry Francona was booted as manager. Team icons Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield grudgingly retired after being offered only minor league deals and closer Jonathan Papelbon left via free agency without any counter offer being made.
The coming season will be one of transition. Team president Larry Lucchino engineered the hiring of Bobby Valentine as manager after new general manager Ben Cherington initially assembled a field of low-wattage candidates. Valentine’s enthusiasm leant a hopeful note to spring training, but couldn’t mask the team’s lack of pitching depth, both in the rotation and in the bullpen.
Like their dysfunctional predecessors of the 1980s and ‘90s, the Red Sox will have a fearsome offensive team that could tread water in the division because of poor pitching. To compete with the Yankees and Rays, the Red Sox need Clay Buchholz to reach his potential as a starter and for Daniel Bard to make a successful conversion to the rotation.
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