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Have the Boston Red Sox Been Too Conservative This Offseason?

January 20th, 2014 at 10:16 AM
By Ron Juckett

'Fenway Park' photo (c) 2011, Kim Carpenter - license:

Yes, this really has been a quiet offseason for the Boston Red Sox.

The only free agent of note to come to Boston is catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The Sox never made any public overtures in either keeping center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury or grabbing outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, second baseman Robinson Cano or Japanese wonder pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

In fact, outside of retaining first baseman Mike Napoli, the roster construction process for 2014 is stuck on whether to bring back shortstop Stephen Drew. Trucks leave in three weeks for Fort Myers and we are obsessing on what the right offer should be for a player that is a luxury, not a necessity.

Think about it though, although keeping Ellsbury would have been nice, all the big names available in free agency or via trade were in positions that either have an established name playing or a hot prospect ready to break through.

We watched the Seattle Mariners break open a few Nintendo piggybanks to lure Cano cross-country, but does anyone seriously consider the Mariners a threat now in the American League West?

Our hated older brother, the New York Yankees, found Hal Steinbrenner’s Visa card and grabbed Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, but have done nothing in regards to improve their starting pitching or fix their player development system that sees their top players either leave in trades or, like Cano, leave when they hit free agency.

Once a fervent shopper in the free agency market, the Red Sox approach this year can be best described as different.

Look, there was no real need for Cano or Choo. Beltran would have been useful for a couple years as well.  Publicly backing a way for a trade for Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and paying nothing more than lip service for Tanaka, on the other hand, is not something we would have seen a couple of years ago.

After a 2012 campaign that the team and fans hope to forget faster than your dog can bury the buffalo wing leftovers from Sunday’s disappointing New England Patriots performance, the team changed philosophies and went for a win later tack.

Funny things happen when you are busy making plans as life throws a few curveballs. In the Red Sox case, they smacked that curve into a world championship the first year. Faced with deciding on whether to go all-in and try to repeat, as some of you would dearly like to, or continuing to prep for a mid-to-late decade run, the Sox seem to be more comfortable playing for glory in 2017 rather than 2014.

There is nothing wrong with that, by the way. Boston seems to be loaded for new talent for the rest of this decade, but the question they are going to have to ask themselves as the season gets underway is did they sell themselves too short now?

After the 2007 World Series, the Sox decided to make the annual big-splash signing in the offseason. Instead of a third championship, we saw a team so bloated with bad contracts that Boston eventually imploded.

In being so deliberate coming off this championship season, you can understand why general manager Ben Cherington not wanting to repeat the same mistakes his predecessor Theo Epstein made but, on the other hand, going so far the other way, are they making the same mistake again?

That cannot be answered easily until 2014 is in the books.

Tags: Baseball, Ben Cherington, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Mike Napoli, MLB, New York Yankees, Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners, Stephen Drew

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