Theo got bashed when he talked about the dreaded "bridge year" in 2010, but now I see the plan - the Sox believe they will contend very well in 2010, and they probably will, but they don't want tie up positions with long term contracts unless they get good value and the player fits a long-term need. This problem was evident last season when they clearly needed some lineup help but most positions were locked in. For example, all OF positions were locked in and they could not to out and grab an Adam Dunn because he was a direct replacement for Ortiz , and what would they do with Papi? They were smart to go after the weakest performer, Varitek, and "replace" him with Victor Martinez. Also, very Little help was available from the minor leagues in 2009.
Now what about 2010?
A few facts are apparent. For one thing the free agent class is marginal at best, and they obviously don't see great value out there, including Jason Bay and Matt Holliday. Beltre? Nice player, but do they want to lock him into that position for 4 years at big money? I don't think so. Theo and the team value flexibility. They went out surprised everybody with the Lackey move, but they obviously see good value (I tend to agree), and remember - "You can never have enough pitching" (ugh). Also, this is some insurance against Beckett leaving after 2010.
What about help from the minors? Not much coming in the near term. They have some highly rated players in Kelly, Westmorland, Reddick, Inglesias, etc., but they are all likely a year or more away. Hey, is Bowden not a good prospect any more? Nobody mentions him anymore.
Looking down the road, I believe Theo and the team want to maintain flexibility as they establish a solid bridge between the homegrown talent coming, and the more enticing 2010 free agent class. With Cameron and Scutaro on two year plans, they can easily ditch them or send them to the bench as early as the 2011 season if they have better options available from within or from free agency. Also, they could opt to send the prospects packing if they see an nice trade oppotunity ,like Adrian Gozalez, availible.
Does this mean they are giving up 2010? Certainly not, but they won't put themselves into a position that may gum up the works for seasons to come. I guess I see the plan; don't know if I like it, but we should all get ready for an unexciting, and possibly very mediorcre 2010. Let's hope for some surprises.