This offseason, the Boston Red Sox lost starting center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and starting shortstop Stephen Drew is somewhere in free-agent limbo. This would be devastating for most teams. For the Red Sox? It’s all part of the plan.
Winning the World Series is wonderful. Probably the best thing you can do as a baseball team. But as the wonder wears off, the focus must be placed on what’s next: a whole new year and the talk of “repeating.”
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Google the Red Sox offseason of 2014 and you will be met with headlines asking whether the Red Sox are too patient or if they have done enough to contend in the coming year. And there lies the one miniscule problem with winning the World Series: Every move (or lack thereof) is put on a microscope slide and examined with a NASA grade telescope. You just can’t win.
The Boston Red Sox are where they want to be and should be — waiting. If it weren’t for last year, it was widely understood that 2013 and 2014 would largely be bridge years to simply stay competitive as their prospects matured. A World Series should not eliminate that idea, it should highlight it. So far, it has in a way; hence the headlines.
Everyone in Boston knew Ellsbury would likely be gone. Saltalamacchia was looking for a deal the Red Sox weren’t willing to make. And with a draft pick attached to Stephen Drew, Boston has played Scott Boras like a fiddle. This is what the franchise-altering trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers taught them: be patient.
They have future top-of-the-rotation pitchers in their organization with Henry Owens and Anthony Ranaudo. Talent is scattered across the infield and outfield with Jackie Bradley, Xander Bogaerts and Garin Cecchini. And with Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez and Dan Butler, they have a stable of catchers. That’s right, a whole stable.
The Red Sox are in a position even they did not anticipate. They and fans are certainly not complaining as the emerging youth brigade has afforded them the luxury of standing pat on a very successful and very entertaining product. Sure they made the occasional signing of bullpen depth in Edward Mujica and catcher in A.J. Pierzynksi to, you know, field a team, but other than that, patience has prevailed.
It’ll largely be the same cast of characters as 2013 with featured players Bogaerts and Bradley slated for starting roles. Drew is still a possibility heading into spring training, and with a pitching surplus and a freshly settled market thanks to Masahiro Tanaka, there is still room for a trade. But if those don’t happen? No problem. They’re right where they want to be.
Like after a substandard 2012, there shouldn’t be much of an emphasis on the success of 2013. It was an unbelievable year, in just about every sense of the word. Headlines should not focus on what they haven’t done this offseason and should focus on what they have, which is following through on their promise of rebuilding the organization from the inside. That’s exactly what they’re doing and, if all goes according to plan, there will be plenty more unbelievable years on the horizon.