Winning a championship in any sport is obviously extremely tough, but with all the free agent movement, trades, etc., maintaining a winning baseball team over the course of multiple seasons is difficult. After a championship in 2004, the Sox lost in the divisional round in 2005 and missed the playoffs altogether in 2006. The holdovers from the 2007 title team made it back to the Championship round in 2008. But the Sox began a downward trend from there, getting swept out of the ALDS by the Angels in 2009 before missing the playoffs in three consecutive years.
The coming seasons for the Red Sox are set up to be just as good as this year’s as going into next season, the team retains a group of young, talented players ready and willing to step up.
“We had a good core. We had seven free agent acquisitions and we had a young player or two who came up and contributed like [Brandon] Workman, [Xander] Bogaerts and [Jackie] Bradley Jr. early in the year. It was the perfect blend of young, medium and old,” Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino said.
After starting the season with Double-A Portland, Bogaerts and Workman had the biggest impacts, as in their rookie seasons Bogaerts became the starting third baseman for the last two games of the ALCS, carrying through the World Series, while Workman was a guy manager John Farrell depended on coming out of the bullpen.
Bogaerts was called up on Aug. 30 and hit .250 with five RBIs in 18 regular season games. He then excelled in the playoffs, showing no signs of being a 21-year-old rookie, as he always stayed patient at the plate. In 27 postseason at-bats, he hit .296 with an on-base percentage of .412, playing a significant role in capturing the World Series title.
With a need in the starting rotation, Workman was called up on July 10 and started three games before moving to the bullpen for the remainder of the season. In 20 appearances he finished 6-3 with a 4.97 ERA. Like Bogaerts, his youth didn’t show much in the postseason as in 8.2 innings he didn’t allow an earned run, pitching in some high leverage situations.
There are also a number of talented prospects up and coming in the system, including pitchers Drake Britton, Allen Webster, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo and position players Garin Cecchini and Mookie Betts, some of whom could be part of the next great Red Sox team.
“I think it’s noteworthy we had this success while still preserving the core and the strength of our farm system,” Lucchino said. “We didn’t mortgage the future to win this year and I think that is noteworthy and I give Ben Cherington great credit for that. Yes, it does set up well for the future.”
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84