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Did you hear that?

Me neither. That's because the 2006 edition of the Boston Red Sox provided the littlest bang for the largest pile of bucks ever. So while the tight-fisted Twins, Tigers and A's are looking at postseason play, our guys are left to look in the mirror.

Whatever the cause of our collapse, spending all that money and coming up third (possibly) is simply inexcusable. With a payroll like the Sox have, "injuries" should never be used as an excuse, especially this year when the Yankees were still able to assume their position atop the division despite the injuries they've had to overcome.

In my opinion, the biggest mistake of the season took place in the off-season when the brass passed on Johnny Damon. Time may prove that it was wise not to offer Johnny what the Yankees did, but for this year at least it cost us. Big. With all due respect to Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp, Johnny Damon is the guy we needed at the top of our lineup this year.

The bullpen sucked again this year too. Which is disheartening because improving it was one of the priorities set in the off-season. On paper, the bullpen looked like it was going to be better. On the mound it did not. The `06 Rudy Seanez didn't pitch like the `05 Rudy Seanez. Julian Tavarez got roughed up early and often. Keith Foulke didn't return to form. Etc. Etc. I don't know how we fix the bullpen next year either. There's really not much out there.

Hopefully, we've learned that you can never have too much pitching. The glut of starters we had in Spring Training made it seem Arroyo was expendable. I'm reserving judgment on the trade. But with the way Clement's season soured, it sure would have been nice to have Arroyo there in the dugout. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose.

Still, I want the glass to be half full. It's nice that some of the kids got some playing time, some valuable experience, right? Other than that, I can't really think of much else on the positive side. Please, help me out. Talk me off the ledge.