Jerry ballgame weighs in on the new Red Sox manager, the state of the Sox as a whole and the question of “Rex or Bill”?
It seems that lately my inbox has been flooded with offers of free yoga lessons and question after question regarding some of the burning sports issues of our day. While my aching back might appreciate the yoga lessons, I think instead I will use my years of experience to address some of the more pressing sports queries of out day.
1) IS JOHN FERRELL THE SOLUTION TO ALL THE PROBLEMS FACING THE RED SOX?
All of them? No. But, he may very well be the key to their biggest problem, which their starting pitching. Jon Lester thrived under Farrell’s direction. He had seasons of 16, 15, and 19 wins while Farrell was the Sox pitching coach from 2007 through 2010, and if Lester could rediscover that form it would be -as Donald Trump likes to say- “huge’! The expectation during that time was tht the 6’4”, 240 horse would become their ace, that stopper you send out every fifth day or so, and would would pretty much guarantee a win.
But something happened to him last September, maybe it was the chicken and beer, but whatever it was, in the middle of a promising 15 win season, he suddenly and embarassingly crashed and burned, taking the hopes of Red Sox nation with him. When he never seemed to right himself in 2012, the talk turned, and the speculation was that he had just been overrated all along. Now with John Farrell back on the scene to hit the reset button, perhaps Lester will step up his game and assume the spot at the front of the rotation.
Reclaimation Project number two would be the resurrecting of Daniel Bard‘s career. If Farrell could tinker with his brain and get him back to his 2010 form, when he appeared in 73 games with a 1.93 ERA, that too would be huge. Bard would not contribute as a starter, but John Lackey could. The reports coming out late Summer regarding Lackey were positive, both regarding his stuff and his attitude, so there is hope he could be a middle-to-back end of the rotation contributor. If all three of these things come to pass, the Sox will have stregthened their pitching considerably and done it without spending any extra money.
2) WHY ARE YOU THE ONLY ONE IN RED SOX NATION WHO DOESN’T WANT TO RE-SIGN ‘BIG PAPI’?
Although I am starting to come around on this, and realize that the Sox probably have no choice on the matter, I still have some reservations. I was glad to hear Bobby V. say that if the games had mattered, Ortiz would have come back. It was also good to hear that, at least early on, he displayed leadership in the clubhouse, supporting Valentine when others like Dustin Pedoria would not. But I’m still concerned that he may no longer be capable of putting in complete seasons, and the fact that they seem to be talking two years may come back to haunt them. If he breaks down again and has to spend time on the bench, how will he react? Can he still be a positive veteran influnce if he can’t play? Let’s hope so, because I have to believe that this is going to get done soon.
3) WHICH ORGANIZATION IS IN A BETTER POSITION GOING FORWARD, THE YANKEES OR THE RED SOX?
Yankees short term, Red Sox long. Despite some major contract issues that they have to deal with, I still feel it likely that the New York will field a team next season that is stronger than anything the Sox will have. I think this is particularly true if C.C.’s elbow is healthy. I expect Teixeria’s production to increase once healthy, and that Cano’s regular season performance to be back at his usual levels. They have questions surrounding ARod and Jeter, but once these are resolved, their 2013 season, although not up to this year’s standards, should be better than the Red Sox. What I like long term about the Sox is that they have effectively dealt with their out of control payroll and now can start rebuilding the team. I’m not without my concerns. Let’s face it, evaluating talent has not been the strength of the Sox management team in recent years (a team that GM Ben has been a part of), but if they choice wisely, it should put them ahead of the Yanks in the long run.
4) WHO IS A GREATER DEFENSIVE GENIUS, REX RYAN OR BILL BELICHICK?
If you want to read the definitive tutorial on this subject, then you should catch Greg Bedard’s column in the Boston Sunday Globe of 10/28. I liked it because it essentially backed what I had said about Rex last year. He’s a great defensive coordinator who is difficult to out-think in a one game scenario, but he does not have what it takes to be a successful head coach over the course of a season, or several seasons, for that matter. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong eventually, but I believe that when it is all said and done, it will be Belichick’s name that ends up in Canton.
Featured image courtesy of: The Associated Press
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