Happy New Year, Red Sox fans. There are only a handful of weeks before pitchers and catchers report, and once the calendar turns its page one more time, it will be safe to turn all your attention to Florida. In order to help increase the excitement, here is the latest edition of Red Sox Lineup, nine items designed to get you in the mood for a summer of baseball while nestled in the dead of winter.
1. Adrian Beltre signing with the Texas Rangers has generated enough buzz in Boston, in part because it nets the Red Sox another first-round draft choice. Had he gone to a losing team like Baltimore, the pick would have been protected. However, not many people around here are talking about what the move means to the defending American League champs. By sliding Beltre into third base and moving incumbent Michael Young to designated hitter, Texas figures to still have a potent lineup while now sporting a vastly improved defense. The left side of the infield, with Beltre and young shortstop Elvis Andrus, will be as solid as any in baseball. Some preseason predictions will have the Rangers and Red Sox meeting in the ALCS.
2. As we formally bid adieu to one big name, we turn to two others who face the next in the many offseason deadlines. All players eligible for arbitration, which includes Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury, could file for the process as of Wednesday. They have until Jan. 15 to file and then the two sides will exchange salary figures by Jan. 18, if they haven’t reached an agreement by then. Arbitration hearings are then lined up beginning Feb. 1, but Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has notably avoided that process during his tenure. Expect Papelbon and Ellsbury to have new terms soon enough.
4. This past week saw a pair of former Red Sox players find new homes. Jeremy Hermida was signed by the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he will serve as a part-time outfielder. Also, Taylor Buchholz, who was under Boston’s control for just a few weeks before he was non-tendered, was picked up by the New York Mets. Hyde Park hero Manny Delcarmen is getting interest from the Tampa Bay Rays, according to several reports.
5. On the subject of former Red Sox players, we learned that Bill Buckner will be returning to the Bay State as manager of the Brockton Rox, a member of the independent Can-Am League. Buckner, who threw out the first pitch in an emotional return to Fenway Park on Opening Day 2008, is one of three one-time Boston players to hold down a managerial post in the league. Brian Daubach heads Hagerstown Suns, and Rich Gedman is the skipper for the Worcester Tornadoes.
Also, Wednesday marked the 91st anniversary of the day the Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Time will tell if that move works out or not.
6. From old-timers to some of the youngest the organization has to offer, the Red Sox will hold their annual rookie program, a two-week session with 11 farmhands designed to "expose the players to the expectations of being Major Leaguers for the Red Sox," beginning Monday at Boston College. The yearly event puts the players through daily workouts and allows them to experience the organization's many community endeavors, including a visit to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a community service project at a Roxbury day care. Among the 11 that will participate this year is catcher Ryan Lavarnway, the system's Offensive Co-Player of the Year in 2010, and highly rated prospects Stolmy Pimentel, a right-hander, and infielder Oscar Tejeda. Celtics coach Doc Rivers will be among those that address the bunch.
7. Since this week's theme involves the old and the new, it is worth noting that the Sox have signed the son of one of their former players by inking Tony Pena Jr. to a minor-league deal. His father, of course, is longtime catcher Tony Pena, a backstop in Boston from 1990-93. If Pena Jr. joins the big club at some point, he and his dad would comprise the seventh father-son tandem to play for the Red Sox, and the first in 23 seasons.
8. For those of you who like to sift through the streets of Brookline for game-day parking, keep your eye on a developing situation in that neighboring town.
9. Since this is the nine-hole and we occasionally just fill it with material befitting a spot held down by .220 hitters, allow us to take some time for shameless self-promotion. We have been running profiles of the Red Sox’ new additions for the past few weeks. Each is a five-part series, starting with each player’s childhood and ending with their future in Boston. We began with Adrian Gonzalez, followed by Carl Crawford and now Bobby Jenks. Look for more in the coming weeks, including several five-part profiles of current players.