The Boston Red Sox have been one of the bigger disasters. They currently sit at 65-80, on pace for their first losing season since 1997. As I have both written about and spoke about on my podcast, too much attention has been put on Bobby Valentine as the manager and too little has been put on the direction of the personnel of this team. Valentine was named manager by Larry Lucchino with the expectation of stirring up a very laxed clubhouse. He has done that to the extreme, with several veteran players showing their true colors. It has become quite obvious that the core Red Sox players have no respect for authority and plan on making their own rules.
The Red Sox will go one of two ways. They will either part ways with Valentine after the season, hire a new manager and retool to compete next season. Or, Valentine will return and co-ordinate with Lucchino and General Manager Ben Cherington to build a team similar to the Mets of the late 1990s or what was attempted with the Texas Rangers of the mid 1980s. In my opinion, the second option has more of a chance to happen than most think at this point, particularly the Boston sports writers.
I know I have spoken much about the Red Sox, but the direction of the team will determine whether they will be a AL East contender next season or a best case scenario being a wild card push. That will also be the difference between them being ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays next season or behind.
To me, the Blue Jays have been a disappointment. The past offseason should have been handled a little bit better by GM Alex Anthopoulos. I made an early case last offseason that the Jays had to add a top of the rotation starter to go with Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero. They fell short in the persuit of Yu Darvish and missed out on Oakland's trades of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill. Like a lot teams, injuries have done the Blue Jays in this season. I think the philosophy will stay the same doing into next season, but the Jays need to add that missing piece to get to the top. I will continue to suggest a top of the rotation starting pitcher and maybe decide on who will be their starting CF and LF.
Another interesting consideration for Toronto is whether catcher JP Arencibia will be traded in the offseason. Jeff Mathis just signed an extension and there is a possibility tha Yorvit Torrealba may return next year. Top catching prospect Travis D'Arnald may be ready sometime next season. Arencibia should be able to net Toronto something of value, at the very least. I do see the Blue Jays taking the next step next season.
Now, on to my question about which team is better off next season. It depends on what the Red Sox do. Will they open up the wallets and pay out the money they saved in the Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett trade? Or will they sit on the money and try to build the team from within? Remember, Boston is not blessed with the best farm system and they could back themselves up with that approach. If thats the case, I see the Blue Jays being the better team right now and into next year. But, I can also see a scenario where the Red Sox retool and add a pitcher and a couple of position players and be a favorite to win the AL East. If thats the case, I think the Red Sox will be the better team.