In sizing up the major league landscape at the offseason’s midway point, ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jayson Stark polled executives around the league, asking them to identify the five teams that improved themselves most and the five that have done the least to help their chances in 2013.
Perhaps more surprising was the team that executives think improved itself the second-most in baseball: The Boston Red Sox.
Nevertheless, executives on the whole were bullish on Boston’s acquisitions, though there were divided opinions as to how much better the Red Sox would be in 2013. This from Stark:
They're deeper. Our panel agreed on that. Their clubhouse should be much
more harmonious. They've added more of Keith Law's top 50 free agents
(six) than any other team in either league. And “they've brought in a
bunch of guys who can play in Boston,” said one AL executive. But on the
other hand ...
"They've added a lot," said one AL exec. "But remember, they had to add a lot, because they had so many holes."
And another AL exec gave this scathing review: "To me, they've spent a lot of money to be mediocre."
There's good news and bad news here. The good news is fairly obvious: the Boston Red Sox have improved themselves this offseason. That's undeniable. The bad news is that the Blue Jays have been dubbed the most improved team. Which is more than "fairly" obvious. That team really scares me.
Of course, none of this means anything. I shouldn't have to remind you about the 2011 Red Sox - dubbed the Greatest Team in the History of Teams before the season even began. That team turned out to be so bad, we ended up signing Ryan Dempster and Shane Victorino just two seasons later. Ugh.
My sentiments are pretty much in-line with the last "AL exec" quoted above. This team has improved, but it's gone from awful to mediocre. To go from awful to good, you have to cross the mediocre threshold, so I'm OK with it. I just think a couple of the signings (Dempster and Victorino if you haven't been paying attention) are a bit misguided and a pretty big waste of funds. Even if it's only for a few years.
But it's clear what Cherington's plan was. He brought in some quality veterans, changed the atmosphere in the clubhouse, and is hoping it all miraculously plays itself out over the course of the summer. He's basically trying to catch lightning in a bottle while simultanesouly avoiding contracts that will weigh the franchise down too far into the future.
It's not the plan of action I would have gone with, but he's given us a competitive team with the faintest glimmer of hope for seeing some post-season baseball this year. After the second half of last season, I won't complain..
..............that is a lie.
On Page 2, we could still see some of that youth I've been pining for.