I love the Red Sox -- I just don't like the way they're playing. My first baseball experience was rooting for them in the 2004 ALCS, which was quite a time to start. As a fan, I feel that the Sox don't need to go into a complete rebuilding mode, but some things need to change. Here's what Boston has to do as soon as possible.
1. TRADE CARL CRAWFORD. There's really nothing left to say about how big of a bust Crawford has turned out to be so far. It's worth taking a look at his progress when he comes back from the DL (probably in June), but he already has the whole city against him. So who will take him at this point? L.A., baby. Like I've mentioned before, the new L.A. owners are looking to make a splash, and Crawford can certainly make that splash. I still believe that Josh Hamilton is the better fit in L.A., but Crawford could be second prize or a compliment for the Dodgers. It doesn't matter who ends up with him, but Carl has no place on the Red Sox anymore.
2. CUT JOHN LACKEY. He stinks, pure and simple. Crawford isn't a bad player; he's just playing badly. Lackey is bad. I can't imagine any team would consider trading for Lackey and it would be a waste of time to try and find one who would. His contract has been a black hole of cash since the minute he landed in Boston. He's on payroll until 2014 and has an option for 2015. Boston has always been a premier free agent landing spot, but they have no money to spend. He's stunk it up in Boston for long enough, and it's time to cut our losses.
3. SIGN DAVID ORTIZ TO A MULTI-YEAR. Big Papi has been my favorite player since I started rooting for the Sox, but I do understand what the debate against this is. Ortiz is 36 and it defies all knowledge that he's still one of the team's best hitters. But he is! Ortiz hasn't just been good the last two years, he's been terrific! And he is the Red Sox. He has been the voice of the team for years, and everyone knows it. He already feels slighted by the team, so we need to make him feel loved again. If he doesn't play another game in a five-year contract, it's worth it just to have him in the dugout.
4. MAKE THE DRAFT COUNT. The Sox farm system has sputtered out in recent years. We struck gold in 2007 with Pedroia and Ellsbury, but we've had few good players called up since. Casey Kelly was supposed to be the next great one, but he ended up being traded for Adrian Gonzalez. Matt Barnes is very promising, and Will Middlebrook has shown some spark so far, but the Sox need to find some more pro-level players to phase into this aging team. I'm looking at pitcher as the Red Sox's focal point. But whether it's pitcher, catcher or batting boy, we need to find somebody.
5. STOP THE INJURIES. The DL has been brutal on the Sox so far in this season. Right now, Andrew Bailey, John Lackey, Matsuzaka, Crawford, Ross and Ellsbury are on the DL. It would make sense that an older team would have more frequent injuries, but it's not the veterans getting hurt. I don't mean to bash the Sox training staff, or pretend like I know the first thing about stopping injuries, but a team can't win with its stars constantly rotating in and out of the DL.
The 2012 campaign is by no means finished, but this isn't a year to put a heavy focus on, and a few things will have to change before we can get excited again.