For the sake of this discussion, let's make believe I am general manager of the Boston Red Sox.
Yesterday was a day for reflection.
It was a "good" season that couldn't quite get to the "great" level. While the Red Sox seemed to have everything in place — pitching, defense and hitting — they never had that defining moment.
Enough reflection? I agree.
Let's get back to the matter at hand — "my" team. Unlike the past two or three off-seasons, this winter will be a busy one with some big names attached.
While GM Theo Epstein mentioned the possibility of keeping this unit together for one more season, I would do the opposite, and start planning for major changes.
While I don't have Epstein's cache of intricate statistics available, here are decisions I would make:
1. Keep Papelbon one season.
It's easy to dump on Papelbon. He couldn't get one more strike on three consecutive hitters and the Red Sox season ended abruptly. And yes, he had a very good year, but not a great year but, as Epstein said yesterday, Papelbon has set the bar so high that a very good year (only three blow saves out of 41 attempts) is sort of a let down. So what do we do with Papelbon? Nothing. The Red Sox own his services for two more seasons. Papelbon isn't the happy-go-lucky guy he was his first three seasons, which probably plays into the fact that he won't be here more than one season if Daniel Bard improves.
2. Don't extend Beckett.
Again, I would do nothing, which means I wouldn't sign him to an extension or trade him. Next year is a contract season and Beckett wants CC Sabathia money (in the $20 million range). His last deal — three years, $32.5 million — was a steal for the Red Sox. As we've seen, Beckett is ultra competitive. He realizes this is his time to, as Asante Samuel had tatooed to his arm, get paid. While Beckett has nearly won twice as many games as he has lost (65-34), he's really only had one Cy Young Award-like season. Beckett will probably go elsewhere, but I believe you will get his best in 2010.