The Boston Red Sox Culture Change

One week has gone by since the Boston Red Sox started building their 2013 roster.  Their first big move was signing Mike Napoli images-1
to a 3 year $39 million deal.  Two days later, they signed Shane Victorino to the exact same contract.  Many Red Sox fans have been upset with these deals.  Napoli is coming of a year in which he hit .227 with 24 home runs and 56 RBI.  Victorino is coming of a season in which he hit .251 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI.  Neither of these signings are what one would call “sexy.”

The Boston Red Sox aren’t currently in a position to make the “sexy” signings they once made.  The Red Sox desperately need to reinvent their brand and win back their fan base.  The idea behind the signings of Napoli and Victorino center more around what they will do for the clubhouse rather than on the field.  Coming off of the second straight disappointing season, the Red Sox need to change the culture of their clubhouse.  The dominos started to fall in August when they dumped Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett on the Dodgers for a few prospects.  Not only did they get rid of a fortune in salary, they got rid of a diva in Adrian Gonzalez, the perennially grumpy Josh Beckett, and a lost Carl Crawford.

I will be the first to admit, I wasn’t thrilled when the Red Sox signed Victorino.  His stats are clearly on the decline over the last three years.  I then followed the Flyin’ Hawaiian on Twitter and in a short time it became painfully apparent to me that Victorino WANTS to play in Boston.  After dealing with the surly Beckett the past few years, I found this refreshing that someone was genuinely excited to play baseball for the Red Sox.  The past two years the Red Sox have dealt with the chicken and beer fiasco followed by the Bobby Valentine disaster.  I think it will be nice to have coverage of guys having fun playing the game.

Johnny Gomes falls into the category of someone who will help pick up the clubhouse atmosphere.  He may be limited defensively imagesand unable to hit right-handed pitching but he mashes lefties and will remind Red Sox fans of Kevin Millar.  Gomes was a spirited leader on an Oakland team that made an improbable run to the playoffs winning the AL West on the last day of the season in 2012.   There was nothing about the 2012 Oakland Athletics roster that on paper wowed anyone.  I am hopeful the same thing will happen with the 2013 Red Sox.

Last season, I remember asking myself if I was willing for the Red Sox to completely start over in hopes of righting the sinking ship.  Going into 2013, the Red Sox are sure to be in the basement of the AL East in everyone’s preseason rankings.  I think I am ok with that.  I can’t deal with the disappointment the Red Sox were the past 2 years.  I rather they rebuild and get on track toward being a World Series contender again.  The signings they have made so far have done nothing to stop that process.  The Victorino signing allows roster flexibility and buys time for top prospects Jackie Bradley and Bryce Brentz to develop in the minor leagues.  Mike Napoli will be a power bat in the Red Sox lineup that will hit 30 home runs easily if he is able to remain healthy.  He absolutely rakes at Fenway. The other plus? The Red Sox don’t have to face him for 3 years.

The Red Sox will next have to look at what to do with their pitching rotation.  There are two spots to be filled behind Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and (gulp) John Lackey.  The Red Sox could potentially pony up big money for Anibal Sanchez or could make lesser moves in going after Kyle Lohse or Ryan Dempster.  Otherwise, their in-house options are Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves.

The off-season has just begun and I am sure the Red Sox are far from done building their 2013 roster.  The Red Sox brass has assured its fan base at least one thing.  There will be a drastic culture change in the clubhouse come April.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

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