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Theo's season of spending

By Ryan Hannable

In Theo Epstein's time of general manager of the Boston Red Sox there have been instances where he has been criticized for not going as hard after a big name free agent or a valued player at the trading deadline as some fans may have liked. This offseason has been the complete opposite. Epstein has made probably the two biggest deals of the off-season in all of baseball and has put the Red Sox as one of the favorites to win the World Series in 2011.

Theo got the ball rolling on December 6 making a blockbuster deal for coveted San Diego Padre first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been on the radar for the Red Sox for the past two years. They have gone after him at the past two trade deadlines, but the what the Padres have asked for exceeded what the Red Sox were willing to give. Finally, this off-season they came to an agreement. The Red Sox sent minor league prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes as well as major league Eric Patterson to the Padres in exchange for Gonzalez. Previously the Red Sox were hesitant to give up Kelly, a pitcher who was one of the top prospects in the Red Sox minor league system.

Epstein then went under the radar to snag one of the most coveted free agents of the 2010 off-season in outfielder Carl Crawford. It was rumored that he was close to be headed to Los Angeles and be a member of the Angels, but then around midnight on December 10 Crawford and the Red Sox agreed to a seven year, $142 million deal sending the star outfielder to Boston. Not many people saw this one coming as it was thought that Crawford had narrowed down his search to only a few teams, with the Red Sox not being one of them.

An area of concern going into 2011 was the strength of the bullpen and Epstein has done everything in his power to bolster the bullpen. Already signed for 2011 were closer Jonathan Papelbon, set up man Daniel Bard and long-time starter, now turned member of the bullpen Tim Wakefield. The Red Sox signed middle reliever Dan Wheeler from Tampa Bay, who was very successful with the Rays. In the middle relief area they also resigned Hideki Okajima to a one year deal. With the uncertainty of Papelbon as closer the Sox signed former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. Although it is expected Papelbon will be the closer, Jenks was brought on as an insurance policy in case of something unforeseen happens. Jenks and Bard will most likely share the set up position. Epstein turned an area of concern into a strength.

In seasons where the Red Sox struggled fans were quickly to place the blame on Epstein, saying he didn't do everything he could have to make the team succeed. While in a way they may have had a point, there is no blame this coming season. Epstein has quite arguably his best off-season as GM and has put the team in a great position for the 2011 season. If for some reason the 2011 struggle, don't blame Epstein, it definitely is not warranted.

Check back again next week for another column on the 2011 Red Sox. Feel free to email me at ryanhannable@yahoo.com with any comments and suggestions for the blog. Follow me on twitter at Hannable84.

2 comments:

  1. I love what we are doing this off-season and can't wait for the games. 2011 is the year of the Red Sox, we could challenge records.

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  2. I think starting pitching is the only question mark. Beckett and Lackey need to be better than they were in 2010.

    ReplyDelete