We all gathered around turkey and declared how thankful we were for family, friends, food, jobs, etc. We are also thankful for a shiny 2013 World Series trophy that can never be taken from us. In a year of unspeakable tragedy in the city, it was nice to be able to bookend the baseball season with something that united for reasons that don’t involve the loss of life.
Here are other things we should be thankful for in Red Sox Nation:
1) Jackie Bradley, Jr. – It is not just that he is a legitimate top 50 prospect, or his plus defense, or on base skills: it is that he is ready at just the right time.
With free agency of Jacoby Ellsbury, we are able to be competitive in offering to keep Ellsbury without being held hostage by Scott Boras. We have leverage. We have a replacement. And he may be a 2-3 WAR player next year as a rookie. Thankful.
2) Xander Bogaerts – A plus bat for the middle of the lineup, a premium position, adequate defense, contributions toward the championship, and six
years of control. Thankful.
3) Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Trey Ball, and, of course, Henry Owens – None of us know which of these will be a hit in the bigs (though everyone has their theory). But, one or two of them will. We will get important innings from some of the others (Workman has already provided some of them). While there is not likely a Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander in the bunch, there is minor league depth with high floors and solid ceilings. Not many organizations that can boast this sort depth and promise in terms of starting pitching.
4) The Payoff of Last Free Agency Period – Stop me if you have heard it before: Victorino, Ross, Gomes, Drew, Napoli. Their low risk, high reward signings paid off. Some of them will even fetch us draft picks in 2014! Thankful.
5) Dustin Pedroia is not Robinson Cano – Maybe Cano is a little better, but not by much. Plus, Pedroia will offer us more wins per dollar (especially in the second contract) than Cano will to whoever (Yankees) he (Yankees) signs (Yankees) for (Yankees). Plus…Pedroia has two World Series trophies. His willingness to understand rich enough, which helps build a team around him, is a factor in why. Thankful.
6) Dr. Lewis Yocum – You did some magic on John Lackey’s arm. Also, thankful for Lackey. He showed incredible determination in returning to be a very good pitcher for us. Kudos to him. Thankful.
7) Garin Cecchini – Your improvement and nearness to the bigs almost makes me be able to stand the thought of giving Will Middlebrooks one more shot at 3b. Thankful.
8) Jacoby Ellsbury’s Six + Years in Boston – It may not be over, but it likely is. What a great run we enjoyed you have had! 21.0 bWAR, 241 steals, that near MVP season in 2011, defensive excellence, good OBP (.350), and, again, two World Series titles – all for $20 million (which he may match next year!). Thankful.
9) Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz – Neither are aces, if we are to be honest, but both give us the feeling that we can win on their start days. Both can make an argument to be a number 2 pitcher, and having two number 2’s in not a bad thing. Thankful.
10) Koji – Have you ever loved a player that seemed to come out of no where more? If twitter is the judge, we were counting outs til Koji all postseason, as if
he was Mariano Rivera. Thankful.
There are so many more things to make us thankful. John Henry, Tom Werner, and (begrudgingly) Larry Lucchino. Ben Cherington. Theo Epstein’s years. David Ortiz’s golden years. Memories of Pedro and Rocket. We could go on. But, to be sure, it is a great time to be a Red Sox fan, and we should all be giving thanks.