Where have we heard this before?
It's now a week since the World Champion Red Sox came tumbling down and lost their crown. At least officially. Truth is, they lost it back in April.
They came out of spring training with more questions than a Presidential press conference: Who would start? Who were the set-up men? Which Kevin Millar would show up this season? Was Edgar a good choice to replace Orlando? Would Manny be Manny again, and if so, how many times would he turn a double into a single, then follow that up with a meaningless headfirst dive into 3rd base? Would the utility players provide enough to allow the regulars time to recharge their engines?
Sadly, the answers to most of those questions turned out badly. There was much discussion on the subject of 6 starters. By year's end, we had 5 in name and only 2 in the postseason rotation. The bullpen, over the course of the year, spent more time introducing themselves to each other than actually saving any games. (Anyone have an email address for Blaine Neal?)
The front office managed to handicap Terry with the reserves. For the better part of the early season, the team carried 2 players that he had NO faith in. Vasquez and Stern may be players, but they brought nothing to this team this season. Due to his inability to hit, Vasquez rarely saw the plate, meaning that Terry was forced to use Mark Belhorn far more often than most people believed was reasonable. Stern may develop into an adequate outfielder, but he only left the bench to pinch run or maybe play an inning or two in the outfield but beyond that, he was as useful to this team as I was. Until the signing of John Olerud, there was no real option at first base short of pulling David Ortiz out of the DH slot. The constant use of Kevin Millar, particularly after Olerud's arrival, ranks up with the shooting of JFK as one of the biggest mysteries to affect Boston.
We made it to the post season because we were bullies. We bludgeoned the opposition into submission, effectively masking one of the worst pitching staffs to make the post season. It was sad, but inevitable, that we would go down before the finals. No one thought it would be in a 3 game sweep.
So it's once again, "Wait 'til next year". What will next year bring? Massive changes no doubt. Minimally, a new infield, with the exception of Renteria (who isn't as bad as he played, but may not be worth what he's being paid) and potentially new outfielders in 2 positions. The rotation is in flux, the bullpen is holding cattle calls and anyone will to play for short money and limited playing time will be invited to sit next to Terry and the rest of the coaching staff. It's going to be interesting.