Well, the 2008 Red Sox baseball season came to an end sooner than we hoped, but not as soon as we feared it might just last Wednesday. I think these past few days are a pretty clear microcosm of the entire 2008 season for the BoSox. This was a scrappy team that continued fighting tough odds only to lose out to a superior ball club. It is tough for a World Champion to return to the World Series, but the Sox almost did it, despite devastating injuries that plagued them throughout the year. And despite the distraction of Whatshisname. By rights, since they paid his $20 million salary ALL year long, Ramirez should have been plying his significant batting skills for the Red Sox cause right up until last night — and perhaps beyond. But Mr. “Every Manny for Himself” was too worried about his own self interest. So Theo gave him the heave ho and thank god for that. But, of course, the distraction and the hole in the lineup worked against this team much of the year. Then there were the injuries to major players like David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew. Add to that sub-par performances from Jacoby Ellsbury, Julio Lugo and Jason Varitek and you have to ask yourself how this team managed to perform as well as it did. I have a two-word answer for that: Youkilis and Pedroia.
These two guys — especially Youk — were the solid rock of this team and a great foundation for 2009. But this team is going to need a lot of rebuilding over the winter. Is the superman David Ortiz gone for good? If so, do we ditch him? Who will do the catching next year; Tek, or will there be a new face behind the mask? How do we add some power to the middle of this lineup? Is Mark Teixeira a viable option, and if so, where does Youkilis pay? If not Teixeira, is Matt Holliday in the mix, and if so, who is the odd man out in the outfield? Can we shore up the middle relief? Who will replace Mike Timlin as the reliable setup man?
All these questions — and probably many moves that only Theo has been thinking about — will keep us occupied for the next five months as we await the start of spring training. In the meantime, let’s give this Sox team its due. They battled a lot of adversity and had a pretty good run. We can be proud of them.