It's All Over
The Rays beat the Red Sox 3-1 last night to advance to the World Series while the Red Sox get to take the rest of the fall and winter off.
Some Red Sox fans will blame the loss of the ALCS on Mike Timlin who lost game 2 in the 11th inning. The thinking goes that if Mike Timlin was not in that game - then the Red Sox would have eventually won and would have been up 2 games to zero. Those fans who think this way can at least find solace in the fact that Mike Timlin probably won't be around to give up late inning leads next season. Timlin is a free agent and unless the Red Sox feel very strong pangs of loyalty - then Mike Timlin and his 5.66 ERA and his $3 million contract will be coming off the books.
I'm of the mindset that the Red Sox lost because Tampa Bay was simply the better team. The Rays had better hitting and better starting pitching. Sure things may have been different if the Red Sox had a healthy Mike Lowell and a Josh Beckett at 100% but they did not. This year the Rays were best when it counted most. Red Sox fans have next year to look forward to but a word of warning - these Rays will be another year more mature next season and they will have David Price coming into a rotation that is already formidable. This Tampa Bay team is not a fluke or a one-year wonder.
Besides Mike Timlin - the Red Sox will also Manny Ramirez's $20 million coming off the books (minus Jason Bay's $7.5 million) plus Curt Schilling's $8 million. That's $23.5 million right there. That should be enough to go after a CC Sabathia or a AJ Burnett. Here's the rub though - if you bring in a top flight free agent then you get a double whammy - you lose your first round draft pick and then what do you do with Tim Wakefield? There's only so many slots in the rotation. Beckett, Dice-K, and Lester have their slots. Do you make Wakefield the 5th starter? At just $4 million he's a low cost insurance plan and if anyone deserves the team's loyalty - its Tim Wakefield.
The big question of course is Jason Varitek. My guess is that the team offers Varitek arbitration and he accepts or they work out a one year deal (maybe with an option). I just don't see Varitek playing anywhere else other than Boston.
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