In 2012 baseball had many exciting moments and the emergence of many new stars that will the game well into the next decade. Miguell Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown. The emergence of young stars such as Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and MIke Trout of the Angels who will thrill fans for many years to come. The revitalization of baseball in Baltimore after being a dormat since 1997 when they last made the postseason. Baseball also saw the first postseason game in Washington D.C. since 1933 when the Washington Senators lost the World Series to the New York Giants. It was also the year of the pitcher as seven no-hitters were thrown in 2012. Included in this pitching dominace where three perfect games in 2012 thrown by Philip Humber, Matt Cain, and Felix Hernandez.
However my top story of 2012 was the implosion of the 2012 Boston Red Sox who instead of being pennant contenders became a team that was one of the biggest disappointments of 2012. It was the worst Boston season since 1965 when they lost a 100 games. This all started at the end of the 2011 season after an ugly September left Red Sox Nation very disappointed. The scapegoat of this was manager Terry Francona who after 8 seasons at the helm was let go and replaced by Bobby Valentine. In addition longtime general manager Theo Epstein was allowed to go be the top man with Chicago Cubs. Valentine except for a couple of years managing in Japan hadn’t managed a team since the 2002 New York Mets. This was an odd fit from the beginning as Valentine never really fit into the situation and the team never got going and finished up a disappointing campaign by going 16-42 the last two months of the season.
After letting longtime closer Jonathan Papelbon go in the offseason to Philadelphia they decided to replace him with Mark Melancon who was acquired from Houston and Andrew Bailey acquired from Oakland for Josh Reddick. in offseason trades. Melancon would have a very disappointing April and would be sent to the minors for most of the season. Bailey would miss most of the season due to injuries and not return till August. In addition due to trades and injuries the Red Sox would use 56 players over the course of the season. This would include 26 pitchers who pitch to at least one batter in 2012. The season also included the trading of fan favorite Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox.
In August the Red Sox made a mega deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers by unloading several high priced contracts in an attempt to clean house. Among those traded was 2007 ace Josh Beckett who wasn’t the same pitcher anymore. Other players in the trade included 2011 acquisitioins Carl Crawford who missed msot of the season due to injuries and along with the rest of his seven year contract. The other key piece in the trade was first baseman Adrian Gonzalez who they had acquired from San Diego and had signed to a big extension the year before. Injuries to Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Jacoby Ellsbury decimated the team over the course of the season.
The pitching which had previously been one of the strengths in recent years was a disster in 2012. It started off bad when at the end of the 2011 season it was announced that John Lackey would miss the entire 2012 season with Tommy John surgery. The bullpen would be a disaster as nobody would successfully replace Papelbon as the closer. With Melancon who didn’t handle it early was sent to the minors and Bailey who would be injured most of the season it was left to Alfred Aceves. Aceves would try and have sporadic success with 25 saves but would up with a 2-10 won/lost record in 2012.
Beckett who was a disappointing 5-11 in Boston before the trade as well as Jon Lester who was only 9-14 on the season which was a far cry from previous seasons. Daisuke Matsuzaka was 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA after returning from injury in 2012. The team fired pitching coach Bob McClure during the season but didn’t provide much improvement after that. The Red Sox also tried former setup man Daniel Bard in the rotation but that move didn’t workout either for them. One of the bright spots of 2012 was the emergence of Felix Dounbront who posted a respectable 11-10 mark in the rotation. Clay Buchholz who was a disappointing 11-8 in 2012 while making 29 starts.
The Red Sox as they prepare to make a comeback in the rugged American league East for 2013 have made several moves to improve the organization and the roster. Among the moves was trading utility man Mike Aviles to Toronto fro manager John Farrell in a rare player for manager trade. Farrell replaces Valentine who was fired right after one season at the helm. They’ve also been busy in the free agent market this offseason by signing outfielder Johnny Gomes from Oakland. The signing of cathcers Mike Napoli will not only provide depth behind the plate as well as first base with Napoli. They also brought in former Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew to play shortstop for the Red Sox. As any baseball fan knows you don’t win championships in December but by playing the on the field from April thru October. So only time will tell if 2013 will be better than 2012.