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Saying Goodbye to the Red Sox ’04 and ’07 World Series Teams
Growing up as a Boston Red Sox fan, I had my favorite players and wanted them to play their entire career with the Red Sox. I was upset to see Dwight Evans, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens leave Boston. As much as I wanted them to stay back then, I now believe that all players should move on eventually.
Jonathan Papelbon(notes) was not heavily recruited to return to the Red Sox. Boston General Manager Ben Cherington didn't attempt to match the offers Papelbon was receiving. With 219 career saves, Papelbon is the Red Sox all-time saves leader. He was the best closer on the free agent market, but I don't think Boston's front office values the closer position enough to pay what the Philadelphia Phillies did. Unfortunately to get a quality replacement, they will have to pay close to that amount for far less quality. I believe Papelbon was their one free agent to keep. They should have tried.
The Red Sox have another 2007 Championship star to consider. J.D. Drew(notes) had an amazing post season in 2007, however the majority of his five years in Boston were subpar for the amount of money he was paid. If Drew doesn't retire, there is no reason to re-sign him. The Red Sox can bring in a needed right-handed batter to play right field at a cheaper price. Michael Cuddyer(notes) might be a good option.
There are only four players remaining from the 2004 World Series team. Three of them were keys to the team and are now free agents. Kevin Youkilis(notes) was a reserve player for 72 games during his first year in 2004. Youkilis is under contract for 2012, but his inability to remain healthy for a full season makes him vulnerable to be traded.
Jason Varitek(notes) is the first of three free agents that should not be re-signed. He was part of the problem in 2011. Even if he didn't actively take part, the team captain did nothing to change the attitude in the clubhouse and turn things around. He had a great career and will always be remembered in Boston, but 14 years is enough. The same can be said for Tim Wakefield(notes), who has been with the team longer than current player. It was great to see Wakefield reach his 2,000 strikeout milestone with the Red Sox and earn his 200th career win, yet despite what he thinks, the fans don't deserve to see him break the Red Sox all-time wins record. The fans deserve the best possible team and I don't think that includes the 45-year-old knuckleballer.
I can't make a legitimate case for not wanting David Ortiz's(notes) production back. In the spring I said if all goes well this season, the Red Sox should not hesitate to offer Ortiz a two-year contract. By the All-Star break things were going very well for Ortiz, who was voted to the 2011 All-Star game. He completed the season hitting .309 with 29 home runs and 96 RBI to earn his first Silver Slugger Award since he won his fourth straight in 2007. His statistics and history of heroics should be welcomed back, but even Boston's greatest clutch hitter must leave at some point. A complete cleansing of the old team might be a good thing. A lot will different in 2012, passing on the soon to be 36-year-old Ortiz might help the new team find an identity and win.
The Red Sox have tried to rebuild while remaining competitive. This is their biggest transition since breaking the long World Series Championship drought. The next few months will be important to the success of the Red Sox future. We don't know how it will turn out, but we know the team taking the field on Fenway Park's 100th anniversary will be very different. I am anxiously looking forward to it.
Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianRabuffetti
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