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The Transition

Last winter, Dan Shaughnessy was in another of his self-righteous, indignant huffs. This time, he was mad Sox owner John Henry, in relation to whether or not the Sox would sign Jason Bay (he of 1 homer this year) or some other big hitter, had said, “Those realities are a function of available talent and age-related transitioning once again as we did prior to 2007." As real reporter Amalie Benjamin points out: "With much of the talent aging and in the final year of contracts, plus a fairly weak free agent class, there is a distinct possibility that the Sox might not be quite so close to the top of the American League next season." Shaughnuessy just complained about ticket prices he probably hasn't paid for in decades and his perception that this means the Sox are throwing in the towel for 2010 and maybe 2009.

The fact is that Henry is right. This is a transition year. This is a "bridge" year. That said, the Sox are trying to put a good team on the field in the interim. They signed solid veterans for short term deals this off season: Cameron and Scutaro for 2 years and Beltre for one.

With their great depth of pitching and what should be solid offense and defense, I still believe this team can be very good. But, it might just not happen this year.

The Sox are well positioned to dramatically upgrade in 2011 and 2012. I know Shaughnuessy hates that the team might have a budget, but they do. Shilling out large long term deals last offseason would have been a terrible move. It would have only maybe made the Sox slightly better this year but would have killed us down the road.

Going into next season, the Sox rid themselves of the contracts of Papi, Mike Lowell, Beltre (though he has a $5 mill. player option), Tek, Hermida, V-Mart and Julio Lugo's contract. Then in 2011, the Sox walk away from Drew, Cameron and Wake.

This allows the Sox next year to at least give some playing time to a young catcher, clears the table at DH and one of the corner infield positions and opens up a ton of cash. This will let the Sox go hard after a truly big bat in a trade or free agency. They can start giving serious playing time to Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish as they look to secure spots in the post-Drew and Cameron outfield. Jose Iglesias start playing some short in Boston next year - Scutaro is ideal for moving back into a utility role if Iglesias can win a job or if Marco loses a step. Lars Anderson and Anthony Rizzo will have their chance to make the Sox clear room for one of them at first - and with Youk's age - 33 in 2012 - he might be part-time DH at that point.

The Sox have a mass of young guys almost ready and clearing all the money from the payroll will allow the team to fill in where their young guys fall short - probably in big time power and at 3rd base (I'm not convinced Youk can or will ever play 3rd regularly in the bigs).


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