A roster that suddenly is filled with question marks could see changes by next May
There was no hiding it, the spark that had ignited the championship runs of 04 and 07 was missing this past year. A fast start (most notably 8-0 against the yanks) had Red Sox Nation thinking pennant. The team had jumped to the early division lead despite the struggles of Big Papi and a depleted starting rotation. Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis did their best to hide the defencies of the team.
Their efforts held only for so long as Matsuzaka headed for the DL and Beckett suddenly had a homerun proble. Their division lead quickly decimated as the Soxs looked up at a 8.5 lead by the rival Yankees and suddenly into a wild card battle with the Rangers. The boys in red managed to get their act together in September to make it to October.
And while a team has the ability to suffer up and downs during the regular season, their weaknesses show ten fold in the playoffs.
The Angels had been a team who Boston had dominated in recent years, making a first round battle with the Halos just another series. But this soxs team ran into the problems that had plagued the team all season, a poor rotation (with the exception of Lester surprisingly) and an inability to hit in tough spots ultimately doomed the soxs to their sweep.
The question now is, how does the perennial underdog (as their fans would like to believe) soar back to greatness. With Wakefield having Back surgery a priority must be put on pitching. Shipping Lowe and Smoltz has depleted anny depth the Soxs had at the position and with Bucholtz still not establishing himself, Boston may have to look to free agency. The most coveted target may indeed come from the team that swept the soxs in the playoffs, John Lackey. The 31 year old has proved to be consistent and will come into a rotation where he does not need to establish himself as an ace so long as Beckett and Lester remain at their current stature.
Offense is another obstacle to tackle. Simply put, the Red Soxs are aging at key positions. While the front office secured their backstop with the aquisition of Martinez, 3rd base could become a problem if Lowell can not produce. While Lowrie looks fine at shortstop, Boston may need to consider adding a first basement to complement Youkilis.
The Red Soxs are in a sense stuck in purgatory. Their future seems uncertain as they took a step down in recent years, but could be primed for a run in October with the right moves.