The name Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf won't ring many bells. That is until I refer to him as the Iraqi Information Minister, a.k.a. Baghdad Bob.
Whatever happened to that guy? I have suspicions he works at 4 Yawkey Way. How else do you explain things like the Red Sox' sudden interest in defensive play? How do you explain the differing medical views on Jason Bay's knees?
The Red Sox claim to be interested in defense, but they're really interested in defending their image. Folks, they're not trying to win a World Series in 2010. They're trying to win 85 to 93 games, remain "in the hunt" until September 15th or so, perhaps even have an outside shot of being swept out of an ALDS.
This is not a World Series contender, barring several dozen season-ending injuries to key players on opposing teams. Things like CC Sabathia succumbing to gigantism, or Mark Teixeira getting arrested for every unsolved murder committed in New York.
The Red Sox offseason maneuvering appears to be complete. Maybe a few more bit parts to be added here and there, but nothing significant. And this is what the rotation looks like:
It's pretty good, and fairly deep. But there are glaring and exploitable weaknesses.
Lester sucks after 100 pitches thrown. That's not the end of the world, but against good teams with patient hitters, this will cause either early exits or blown leads.
Who is Josh Beckett? In 2007, he was Cy Young. In 2006 and 2008 he was Jeff Fassero. And last year he was Cy Fassero.
John Lackey is solid, a middle-rotation kind of guy.
Daisuke. What a crapfest that's been. Is he going to be healthy? Is his translator going to be healthy? Is he going to be honest with the team regarding his training regimen? The Sox can blame themselves here, they gave him every special treatment and amenity under the rising sun, and this guy just doesn't feel like a member of the team.
Clay Buchholz is talented, but again, fits in best as a middle of the rotation guy.
So the two supposed Aces, Lester and Beckett, each have flaws. Lester can't go too deep into games, and Beckett is more like an Ace in Blackjack, he's capable of giving you a lot or very little.
It's a good rotation, but would be exposed in a playoff series against any capable collection of hitters.
Then there's the lineup:
1. LF Ellsbury
2. 2B Pedroia
3. 1B Youkilis
4. C Martinez
5. RF Drew
6. DH Ortiz
7. 3B Beltre
8. CF Cameron
9. SS Scutaro
It starts off very nicely 1 thru 4. Then Drew, who can be penciled in to miss 40 games with snowflake injuries.
Then Ortiz, who enjoyed a season free of criticism despite being caught cheating, blatantly lying about said cheating, and only hitting .238. In fact, his mere 28 HRs were CELEBRATED by pinkhat Sox fans. He slugged .159 below his mark from 2007. And there's very little reason to believe he'll improve.
Adrian Beltre has a great glove. That's all the Red Sox Info Ministers have spouted. These are the same people who will go on and on about how vital OBP is. Beltre's was .304 last year. That's .009 below Jason fucking Varitek's.
The Sox will return to worshiping OBP when they discuss Cameron. His was .342, which is good when your Average is .250. Cameron also has a better glove than anyone else in history if you believe in baseball numerology, or if you look at his stats through a seer stone in a hat.
For some reason, the suddenly defensive minded Red Sox didn't sign Alex "Should've Won the Gold Glove" Gonzalez. They got Marco Scutaro. Who's actually not too shabby of an offensive player. But there's no power.
This lineup has no power. It's got guys who can get on base, play station-to-station, and eventually be stranded on 3rd.
It's not an altogether bad team. It's good actually. But just good. But still well short of actually contending for anything. And I don't mind too much. Bay's offensive output was as inconsistent as MRIs are of his knees. And who were the big free agents out there this season?
The Sox got one of them in John Lackey. There were some big names traded, like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. But they were traded for each other!
So while I mock the Red Sox for their blatant propaganda and outright fabrications. I essentially concur with their philosophy this offseason.
In 2011, the Sox will have a much wider range of options. They can retain Victor Martinez, move him to 1st, Youkilis to 3rd, and sign Joe Mauer. Carl Crawford will also be a free agent.
The money being spent on Lugo and Renteria will no longer be on the books. Lowell's contract will conclude, as will Ortiz's.
So endure the sub .525 (below 85 wins) season. Enjoy Adrian Beltre's defense, and use the bathroom when he's at bat. Enjoy quicker games thanks to the bottom of the Sox' lineup making for easy innings. And bottle in your rage, only to be released in the next offseason when Theo announces the 2011 campaign to be a tunnel.