After the 2004 World Series Championship, the Boston Red Sox had a very quiet off-season, not one trade was made. The big deal had already happened months earlier to acquire infielders Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz for SS Nomar Garciapara. At the time, the only two key players that the Sox re-signed were P Bronson Arroyo and 2B Mark Bellhorn, both to one year contracts. The philosophy was, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
The 2007-2008 off-season has a very similar feel to that of the previous World Series team. Many thought that a block buster deal was going to take place for the Red Sox to acquire former Cy Young Award winning pitcher Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins, but they balked when the Red Sox refused to part ways with rookie outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Although no trades took place, there were some very key re-signings that eased the anxiety Red Sox Nation may have been suffering. The biggest contract deal was with the 2007 World Series MVP, 3B Mike Lowell. Lowell was the most consistent hitter on the Red Sox team all year long and his defense is still of Gold Glove caliber.
Another deal the Sox locked up was a one-year contract with P Curt Schilling. Before the 2007 season had started, Schilling had wanted the Red Sox to make an offer but they declined and told him that if the 2007 season went well, they could talk during the off-season about a deal. After a stint on the DL early in the year, Schilling came back like a man on a mission, pitching his way to his contract extension for 2008.
In November, the Red Sox exercised their 2008 contract options for RHP Tim Wakefield and RHP Julian Tavarez. Both pitchers were a part of the starting rotation during the 07’ World Series campaign but it is unlikely that either both will be in the rotation for the 08’ season. Tavarez will probably be used as the long man out of the bullpen when starters get in trouble early. Wakefield will be penciled in as the number 5 starter to begin the season but if he struggles or has back issues do not be surprised if rookie Clay Buchholz gets the nod. Also re-signing a one-year deal was backup catcher Doug Mirabelli. Mirabelli has been Wakefield’s personal catcher since he joined the team in 2001.
RHP Mike Timlin signed a one-year contract again with the Sox. The veteran relief pitcher is great to have around in the pen to mentor the young talent like Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen. LHP Javier Lopez also re-signed a one-year deal to keep most of the bullpen intact from last year.
Some faces we will not see around Fenway in 2008 that we have seen over years past include RHP Matt Clement. Clement, who was on the DL for all of the 2007 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2006, signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. RHP Eric Gagne will also not be back this year in the Sox bullpen. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and will be blowing games for them in 2008. OF Gabe Kapler who coached in the Red Sox farm system last year is back in the big leagues again. Kapler signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers as well.
For now, all is well in Boston and the countdown to spring training has begun. Don’t expect to see any huge deals take place between now and then. Eric Hinske is a free-agent but probably will sign with another team so he can seek more playing time. The Sox could use another bat to come off the bench in pinch hit situations, and it wouldn’t hurt if that same player was an outfielder incase Manny decides to be Manny late in games.
Even if the Red Sox do not land Johan Santana, they will still have the best starting rotation in baseball featuring Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Dice-K). Beckett finished 2nd in the AL Cy Young balloting in 07, and as a rookie Dice-K still managed to win 15 games and finish 6th in strikeouts.
The Sox will have plenty of firepower to defend their World Series Championship, so make sure you contact Ace Ticket today to get your seats to a game! Go Sox!