From here on out, they have been confined to playing spoiler to the remaining teams on the schedule: the
Rays, Orioles and Yankees. The September roster is certainly not what Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine envisioned when he arrived, yet the Sox are still out there fighting for every win.
Let's take a look at this week's mailbag.
Do you think Bobby V's comment about the "weakest roster" could be detrimental to the confidence of the younger guys?
– @supahmojo, via Twitter
I don't think so because, in all honesty, Valentine is stating the obvious. When the team traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to the Dodgers, it clearly decimated the roster.
Will Middlebrooks and David Ortiz being sidelined for the season simply made matters worse. If it weren't for those circumstances, a handful of guys wouldn't be on the roster, let alone the starting lineup.
The lack of starting pitching talent in Triple-A is also to blame. After trading their top starting prospects over the years, the Red Sox had no one to groom this September, forcing them to continue starting Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Should Cody Ross be suspended for his outburst, or will [Bud] Selig say that this season's end is punishment enough?
-- @Kevan_withan_A, via Twitter
Cody Ross and Valentine have both said they don't think Ross will be
suspended for yelling at the umpire in Wednesday night's game. Frankly, he doesn't have a track record of verbally abusing umpires.
That ejection was just the second one of his career. Since it was an uncharacteristic explosion, I think commissioner Bud Selig would certainly take that into account.
If healthy, do you see the Red Sox bringing back David Ortiz for one or two more years? Also, is Jose Iglesias or Xander Bogaerts the future shortstop for the Red Sox?
-Victor, Rapid City, S.D.
I absolutely believe the Red Sox will bring back David Ortiz. By ridding themselves of Crawford's, Gonzalez's and Beckett's contracts, the Red Sox regained the financial flexibility to sign him.
Despite his season-ending injury, Ortiz proved he was capable of carrying the offense once again. Ortiz wants to retire with the Red Sox, and general manager Ben Cherington has expressed his desire to re-sign the slugger.
As for your second question, I personally think Xander Bogaerts has a brighter future with the organization. Heading into this year, many were questioning Jose Iglesias' bat, and he's done nothing to assuage those concerns.
In 11 games and 31 plate appearances this season for the Red Sox, Iglesias has only mustered two hits — a .077 average. While he's spectacular defensively, he has a habit of trying to be too flashy with his glove. That's led to two errors in his brief stay with the Sox.
The way you answered the questions [in your last mailbag], I get that you think the Sox front office has relegated the team to another last-place finish in 2013, only being bottom-feeders in the free agent market, turning the team into a small-market franchise. If this is true, maybe it is time Mr. Henry sold out. What is wrong in going after a big time hitter like [Josh] Hamilton? They now have the money. I hope I am wrong about this.
-- Ted Williams, Round Rock, Texas
That's an incorrect assessment, my friend. Just because I don't expect the Red Sox to pursue marquee free agents during the offseason doesn't mean I believe the team will toil away in last place.
Big names and big players don't equate to victories. The Red Sox learned that lesson the hard way, crashing and burning after signing John Lackey, Crawford and Gonzalez to lucrative deals in recent years.
Pursuing Josh Hamilton would simply be reverting to old bad habits. Hamilton is 31 years old and has a reputation for being injury-prone, so it's not worth doling out the cash for that.
Instead, it would be better to invest into grooming prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. into the center fielder of the future. Keep in mind that the 2007 Red Sox won the World Series without hefty star power. Cherington wants to return to that philosophy of focusing on the farm.