Sports Outside the Beltway

Red Sox Offseason Progress – Bullpen

After the disappointing 2006 season , the Red Sox obviously had some issues to deal with. Based on the torture I encountered by watching the squad after July, these are the areas that I saw as the biggest needs for the 2007 season.
  1. Bullpen
  2. Starting pitching
  3. Manny
  4. Replace the aging talent.

I will break down their progress on each of these topics one at a time.

While there were many issues with the 2006 season, the collapse of the bullpen exacerbated the rest of them. Jonathan Papelbon’s superhuman effort from April-July masked the fact that NO ONE in the pen other than he could get someone out. While I love the upside of Hansen and Delcarmen, and the past contributions of Timlin and Foulke, things just did not work out for them last year.

To make matters worse, when Papelbon had to shut it down late in the season due to shoulder fatigue, it made me wonder, what now? Well, now it has been determined that the team’s best option at closer, and maybe one of the best in MLB will be a starting pitcher. As much as I would love to have Paps close, I do think this is the right choice. If his body can not take the wear and tear or warming up 70-90 days a year (including the games he warms up but does not pitch), then I am all for him being in the rotation. He is of no use to the squad if he has to spend a portion of the season on the DL.

For the upcoming season, the new blood of Donnelly, Romero, and Okajima may be better than Rudy, “Lights Out” Lenny Dinardo, Jamie Van Buren, and Foulke, but there are still far too many questions.

Are Donnelly and Romero on the backside of their careers? Is Okajima going to be effective in this league and in this environment? In regard to the players who are coming back this year, can Timilin show us he has one more good year, or is he really as old as he looked last year? Hopefully Delcarmen and Hansen are better with last year behind them. It appears that the philosophy right now is to find as much “stuff” as possible and hope some of it works. IMO that is not they best strategy!

Hopefully Theo and company can provide a clear cut option prior to spring training because theyy tried the bullpen by comittee once, and we know how that turned out. But, as it stands now, the bullpen problem has not been resolved.

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