Encore for Red Sox, Now What?


When you play in a big baseball market like Boston, it is sometimes difficult to take a “wait and see” approach. It is even more difficult when you have a fictitious sell-out streak and a rabid fan base who do not take well to rebuilding projects. Not when the precedence of the last decade was to restock, not rebuild.

Oh, it is a bright new day in the world of Red Sox baseball.

After the franchise-changing trade of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to a petulant Dodgers team eager to prove that the days of Frank McCourt are behind them, the Red Sox now have roughly $50 million committed to the 2013 payroll. Talk about getting a “Get Out of Jail Free Card.”

So where does that leave the Red Sox in 2013 or beyond.

Ben Cherington made a huge statement when he traded Gonzalez and Crawford, two men who were touted to bring the next championship to Boston. He made sure it was known that the Red Sox were no longer going to walk the same path of careless overspending. If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. Cherington has seen enough over the last five seasons to know that what the Red Sox have always gotten has been high expectations and bitter disappointment.

And his timing could not have been better. With a big gaping hole at first base and another in the starting rotation, Boston would in the past rush out to fill those holes. Fortunately for them, the rush has already occurred. Only one (Zack Greinke) of the highly touted pitchers scheduled to hit the market this winter remains, as Cole Hamels and Matt Cain have signed long-term extensions, and Cherington is too smart to burn his new-found financial freedom on the likes of Ryan Dempster, Francisco Liriano, Edwin Jackson, or Anibal Sanchez.

And that says nothing of the complete lack of quality first basemen on the market.

Instead, this Red Sox team is going to be smarter. They are going to build from within, around quality pieces like Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Bryce Brentz. They will explore trades that make sense to the team, but nothing that will purge the new found depth they now have. The Red Sox will extend a guy like Cody Ross in a deal that makes sense for the team. They will explore an extension, likely unsuccessfully, for Jacoby Ellsbury, but with the knowledge that Bradley will be ready before they need to worry about losing Ellsbury.

And they will give David Ortiz his two-year deal. The Red Sox owe it to Ortiz and he has more than proven he deserves it. With the flexibility they now have, they can make that decision now without hampering what they are building. Ortiz will retire in a Red Sox uniform.

No longer will the speculation be about which big name will be wooed by the ownership or the Thanksgiving flights to pluck another star off the high-priced shelf on the market. Fans will be forced to get themselves reacquainted with the top prospects in the system, as those faces are the ones more likely to be patrolling Fenway Park in the near future.

Make no mistakes about it; these are not your parents Red Sox. Heck, they are not even your Red Sox. These are the Red Sox for a new generation, one that now has a much brighter future.

One that will be fun if for no other reason that its unpredictability.