Yes, with Manny, Wily Mo, and ESPECIALLY Big Papi down and out in the Big B, th Red Sox have their glare focused completely on 2007. Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, David Wells, Lenny DiNardo, Keith Foulke, Trot Nixon, Coco Crisp, Wily Mo Pena, Jon Lester, Alex Gonzalez and now Manny and Big Papi? And the Yankees thought THEY had injury problems! Quick, try to name who is NOT injured in Boston.
So what should the Sox do? Well, I recommend a 12 step program:
1. Shut down Manny, Wily Mo, and especially Big Papi for as long as they may need.
2. Bring up David Murphy and stick him in centerfield ASAP and move Coco back to left field where he belongs. (No, no one is saying to trade Manny. We want him at DH and Papi at 1B next year.) Mike Lowell is great, but Youkilis can handle third and Lowell should have trade value. This team needs more youthful energy on offense. Hell, right now I would settle for Otis My Man Nixon in centerfield.
3. Try to rework the Javy Lopez trade with Baltimore so they can hang onto Adam Stern and send over some other chump. Speedy center-fielders with panache (think of another centerfield in this mold the Sox traded to Baltimore: Brady Anderson) are hard to find and invaluable to a team.
4. Draw and quarter Javy Lopez, Julian Tavarez, Rudy Seanez, Matt Clement, and, just for good measure, Edgar Renteria. Leave Tito & Theo alone. They are not the problem.
5. Trade David Wells to whoever wants him for as much as they can get for him. Really, a mid-level pitching prospect is just fine. Anything. From anyone. Trade him to the Yankees for all I care.
6. Start prepping Jonathan Papelbon to start games again. There are closers out there somewhere, somehow. I may not have the answer, but Papelbon is just way too valuable to leave at the back of the bullpen.
7. Get Trot Nixon back in the line-up to drive up his value so the team gets some amateur draft pick compensation for him signing with another team this off-season. (Remember, we have Eric Hinske now for 2007 to back-up Wily Mo).
8. Send Al Nipper back down to Pawtucket. He did OK in the pinch, but I am not sure that he had the ear of Josh Beckett this season. Dave Wallace brings so much credibility to the pitching coach position having done it so well for so long, that it cannot be coincidence that Beckett has looked so good since Wallace returned. Also, Dave Wallace, teach Beckett how to throw a (expletive deleted) change-up! With a change-up to go with the Fastball and hammer, he can win 20 consistently.
10. Get Edgar Martinez (no, not the forty-something DH, but the Peter Gammons Cannot Miss Kid) up from Portland and in the bullpen ASAP. Also, sort out where Manny Delcarmen, Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, and Craig Hansen are going to pitch. Oh yeah, FIND A LEFTY RELIEVER WHO CAN THROW STRIKES AND GET AN OCCASIONAL LEFTY OUT ONCE IN A WHILE!
11. Figure out if Dustin Pedroia can handle second-base next year or if the team brings back Mark Loretta (since they HAVE to bring back Alex Gonzalez. Short of bringing back Pokey Reese, letting him go is suicide). That said, sign Alex Cora. He is without doubt the best utility infielder in baseball right now.
12. Send a huge GET WELL SOON cards to Big Papi.
The thirteenth step? Well, Red Sox fans, remember the Bluto Blutarsky advice from Animal House:
My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.
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