Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Nation: How Do They Rebound?

Welcome one and all to the gift and blog that keeps on giving, Tha Weatha Report. In this edition we will examine what one of the marquee MLB franchises, The Boston Red Sox, need to do in order to make their way back to the playoffs and the World Series. Needless to say that The Nation had an interesting season and in order to prevent another "interesting" season from occurring again we will outline what I think are necessary moves. However, first let us hit the quick news drizzle. 

News Drizzle

1. I have spoken a ton of words on the Penn State scandal, and there isn't much more to say. Last words from me: Everyone lost in this scandal, and the focus should be on making sure the children that were the victims get all the assistance that they unfortunately need and deserve. 

2. The news that Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped in his native Venezuela should make all the athletes here in America appreciative of what they have. For the most part the athletes in the U.S. do not have to worry about such dangers, but let us all pray for the safe return of Ramos. Let us also pray that Venezuela and the other Latin American countries can find a way to prevent these crimes from occurring again. 
*Note* Ramos has been found safe and sound which is great news

3. When Pacquiao-Marquez III was signed, I wrote my opinion in this very space. I'm not excited for this fight, but I will predict that Pacquiao wins the fight easily. He's too big and too fast for Marquez. 

4. UFC's foray into network television will be a good fight. I see Junior dos Santos winning in a hard fought contest over Cain Velasquez. 

The Main Storm: The Nation

On the heels of the news that Jonathan Papelbon is taking his Red Sox record of 219 saves to the south and to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Boston Red Sox now have another item to add to their off-season list. Let's take a look at the questions that Boston has to ask themselves, and the potential answers to those questions. 

Q. Who is going to manage this team next year and beyond? 

A. A place like Boston comes with plenty of media scrutiny. The job of managing the Red Sox means being placed in a fishbowl. A fishbowl that anyone rarely comes out of unscathed (see Francona, Tito). It is best that the person who takes the job is someone who has plenty of managerial experience or at a minimum some coaching experience in the major leagues. You would not want to place a rookie manager in the position of trying to erase the memories of the September collapse while trying to learn on the job. 

Even with the loss of Papelbon, the roster of the Sox is littered with established stars who have been doing their things for a while. With that factor, it would be best to have a manager who can massage egos and who can gain the respect of the players. Add this to the fact that the September collapse was not just a "regular" collapse. Oh no, this collapse had plenty of drama and intrigue. Players drinking alcohol in the clubhouse, the manager losing his own focus and losing the players. Players not getting along and not supporting each other. The sum of all of this is that Boston needs a man who can come in, clean house, and get the players back to performing like the team that had the best record in baseball for a majority of 2011. 

So after all that has been said, is there a manager out there that is the right fit? In a word, yes. The early reports have Boston leaning towards the Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin. Which would not be a bad move at all considering he has been known to have a good re pore with players. However, I believe a good fit would be Sandy Alomar Jr. While he does not have managerial experience, he does have plenty of playing experience and some coaching experience. Alomar played catcher in the major leagues for 20 years, racking up numerous All Star appearances and a Gold Glove. 

Would Alomar be able to relate to the stars that the Red Sox have? I believe so. He was a star himself. Maybe not the status of his younger brother Roberto, but a star nonetheless. Players would instantly respect him due to his stature and his family's stature in the game. Alomar has been coaching in the Indians organization since 2008 so he has a few years of experience. Is it a manager that can come in with rings? Not quite. I'm sure the Red Sox would rather have a nice selection of managers who have established themselves and who were available, but there is a good choice out there. That choice, in my opinion, is Sandy Alomar Jr. 

Q. How do the Red Sox fix that pitching staff? 

A. John Beckett, John Lackey, John Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Daisuke Matsuzaka were supposed to be one of top pitching rotations in all of baseball for the 2011 season. Injuries, inconsistent play, and generally poor attitudes combined to ruin that once promising staff. Buchholz and Matsuzaka ended the season on the DL. Lackey went 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA. Hitters going for an over .300 batting average, and giving up over 200 hits in just 160 innings. Overall, all of the pitchers that the Red Sox paraded out to the mound during the season, especially the end of the season, all had their struggles. 

Dice-K is progressing nicely in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, recently making almost 40 throws from short distance and reporting no elbow pain. He could provide a boost for the team after the All Star break next season. Buchholz's back will reportedly be 100% for spring training next year. If he is fully healed and back healthy then he could be a stabilizing force for the Sox. 

Due to the large contract and uneven performance, it will be hard for the Red Sox to trade Josh Beckett. So assuming that he will be there right now the rotation of the Red Sox is made up of Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and John Lester. If the three are healthy, both mentally and physically, then that is a top 3 of the rotation that would make many major league team jealous. So that means the Red Sox need to find two starters that can be plugged into the back end of the rotation to help stabilize the pitching staff and team. So, where do they find those starters? 

Signing the premier starter on the free agency market, CJ Wilson, is probably out of the question for the Sox. The money and years that it will take to sign Wilson is not going to be met by Boston. The Lackey and Dice-K signings will do enough to scare off Boston from committing big money and years to another free agent pitcher. Boston's technique will probably fall in line with finding free agency bargains like Paul Maholm and Aaron Harang. They will use this technique to strengthen the bullpen as well. Look for the Red Sox to go with Daniel Bard as the closer now that Papelbon has moved on.

I believe that if the Red Sox fix their pitching woes, they will be fine. The offense performed well in 2011, finishing second in all of baseball in hitting. Pitching is the name of the game in Boston. If they fix it, they'll be able to erase the misery of their monumental 2011 collapse. If not, they'll be looking up at the rest of the division in 2012.