The season ended with some disappointment after Boston's comeback in the ALCS fell short. If I'm honest with myself, I can say that the Sox had no business getting the series to a Game 7 after being so thoroughly dominated by the Rays in the first part of the series. At least the final game at Fenway for the year was thrilling win with some historical significance. The last image the fans got on the field was of the Red Sox celebrating.
This is a very good team. In spite of the injuries, losing Manny, and the inconsistent pitching down the stretch, the Red Sox still won 95 games in the toughest division in baseball. As Dennis said in his comment on the previous post, it's only going to get tougher. While those youngsters are still ineligible for free agency, the Rays are stacked.
The Red Sox need only make minor adjustments in the offseason. They will shuffle around the bullpen in search of that magic middle reliever that doesn't really exist (all teams do that). I'm not certain if they will agressively go after any big name free agents, namely Mark Teixeira. They will test the waters though. I don't believe that they are going to break the bank for CC Sabathia, but they will try to bolster the starting pitching. Clay Buchholtz is still a question mark, and Jon Lester, while he had a great season, pitched more innings than he ever has by far. He may slide back a little bit next season. I wonder if their just going to keep picking up that $4 million option on Wakefield until he drops dead.
The biggest question and the question no one wants to ask is, what are they going to do with Jason Varitek? His value to the Red Sox is well documented. I'm sure he would love to retire in Boston. However, his production at the plate has gone from a nice bonus, to passable, to a down right liability. He is swinging like a rusty gate these days. Is Kevin Cash the answer? I don't know. The thing is, if they get rid of Varitek, who will they get instead? All catchers are pretty much the same: 0.250 Avg., 0.310 OBP, 10 HRs if you're lucky. That is unless you're Joe Mauer.
Overall, I see good things for the Sox next season. They will need a little luck and need to stay away from injuries to make another World Series run. It will be an intriguing offseason. I almost can't wait for April.
Note: After the World Series is over, look for our weekly football columns. Joe will continue to make his picks, Peter will be writing about the top performers each week, and I will put together the most accurate power rankings you've ever seen. The interdivisional rivalries get more intense as we argue about Joe's Giants, Pete's Eagles, and my Redskins.