The Boston Red Sox were the talk of sports after the 2011 season, but for all the wrong reasons.
After missing the playoffs on the last day of the season, revelations started pouring out about players’ lack of discipline in the clubhouse, as a collective group took to partying during games instead of supporting their teammates.
For Boston Fans, the humiliation from last season’s nightmare still lingers and now it is up to the players to earn back their trust.
Nothing is worse than underachieving when you have oodles of proven talent but lack the attitude to go with it.
As the great Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”
Now the question is do the 2012 Red Sox have the drive to work themselves back to the top in the face of adversity?
Let’s see how things are shaping up in Beantown:
The biggest positive for the Red Sox is that 2012 brings a fresh start so they can get things back on track again. The organization needs to show that last season will never be repeated, as their loyal fans deserve that. This has been a contending team enough times in the last decade to know how to win and there are no more excuses…THE PARTY IS OVER.
The Red Sox offense is almost the same as 2011, which is a good thing as the bats were the best in baseball. Collectively the Boston bats led the Majors last season in RBIs (842), doubles (352), hits (1600), runs (875), total bases (2631), OBP (.349), and slugging (.461). They hit the third most homers with 203 and had the second best batting average posting a .280. This line-up is terrifying and is littered with All-Stars like Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz.
Questions? The Red Sox are coming into 2012 with so many unknowns it is alarming and unfamiliar territory in Boston.
The lingering question of why the GM and Manager, who were both indispensable in leading the Red Sox to two World Series Championships in 2004 and 2008 took to the hills after the monumental collapse of last season. You have to wonder why both Theo Epstein and Terry Francona ran out-of-town without even hesitating or looking back. It makes me think that things were even worse than we realize in the clubhouse, but also there was said to be a disconnect with ownership that played a part too.
The Replacements. Epstein is his assistant, Ben Cherington who is at least familiar with the situation and should be fine.
Replacing Francona is ex-Mets skipper Bobby Valentine, and the two could not be more different. The Red Sox players need structure and motivation, which is Valentine in a nutshell. Valentine has already banned beer in the clubhouse, and the old days of slacking in Spring Training are now filled with disciplined drills. And word on the street is the change is already drawing complaints from veteran players. The fact the Red Sox players have the nerve to complain at all is mind-boggling, but the concern is can players with overblown egos thrive under a manager with an even bigger one? Don’t forget to keep an eye on Valentine and clubhouse party boy Josh Beckett, as they already have a strained relationship.
Now there are also questions surrounding the players too.
1) Trading away Marco Scutaro to the Rockies made no sense. And replacing him with either Nick Punto or Mike Aviles at shortstop is a downgrade, both offensively and defensively.
2) Carl Crawford’s left wrist has not healed as he had a major setback and will not be ready by Opening Day. Crawford has been a total bust since the Red Sox signed him prior to 2011 and the fans hate him for it, so the pressure is on.
3) Clay Buchholz is coming off a back injury that limited him to 14 starts in 2011, and the team needs the 27-year old to be dominating again but can he?
4) Moving relievers Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves to the starting rotation comes with risk because it is a learning process that the Red Sox cannot really afford with injuries to starters Dice-K and John Lackey. Both relievers came up huge for Boston in 2011 out of the bullpen, and the transition now puts that at risk. There is no way Bard can throw close to 200-innings and Aceves has dealt with back injuries in the past so expecting him to be a starter for six months is risky.
PLAYER(s)/GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH:
Anyone and everyone in a Red Sox uniform is “one to watch” this season.
Pedroia, Youks and Ellsbury need to man-up and be leaders especially on the heels of the recent retirement of longtime captain Jason Varitek.
On paper the 2012 Red Sox are littered with talent and are look like postseason locks but whether they want to be is the question.
Ex-Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz once said this:
“The answer to three questions will determine your success or failure. 1 – Can people trust me to do my best? 2 – Am I committed to the task in hand? 3 – Do I care about other people and show it? If the answers to all three questions are yes, there is no way you can fail.”
The Red Sox as a franchise need to all be on the same page or else things will only get worse in Beantown in 2012.
It will not be easy as the team has to find itself again and that takes some time, but once they do the Red Sox should be tough to beat once again. My advice is doing it before John Lackey returns, as he is a clubhouse virus.
So… Will the Boston Red Sox’s contend in the AL East and make a World Series run in 2012?
That is completely up to them.