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The two biggest fools in the circle of American League commentators this year are clearly the guy--namely myself--who picked Detroit for the pennant and Lock magazine's Tom Meany, who predicted that the Boston Red Sox would finish second.
Unlike the Tigers, who can still hope that key players in crippling slumps will come around, the ninth place Red Sox have no future. In a league much-improved by this year's amazing crop of rookies. Boston's much ballyhooed youth movement appears to have assured the box of at least ten years of mediocrity.
The American League has probably never seen anything like this year's fantastic crop of rookies, many of whom will be crucial in strengthening teams which the Red Sox beat out last season. At Kansas City Manny Jimenes still leads the league with a .372 B.A.; at Los Angeles Do Belintsky has become the nucleus of a much improved pitching staff; most frightening for Boston, Richie Rollins and Bernie Allen along with the acquisition of Vic Power have converted Minnesota into a team the Sox cannot hope to beat out.
While these three teams have strengthened themselves, Boston did little during the off-season. One trade--budding for Brossoud--temporarily looked like a stroke of genius, but it was only to be expected that after his great start Brossoud would tall off toward his .231 lifetime average. The acquisition of 42-year-old Dave Philley from Houston has hardly been a significant addition.
None of the Red Sox strong points compensates for the fact that they have only two consistent starters, no power, especially right-handed power, no bench, and, despite youth and speed, had base running.
The horrifying aspect, though, is that the Red Sox are so young. Think of it: Gary Geiger (.196) and Carroll Hardy as permanent outfield fixtures for ten yearsl Mike Higgins admits he sees little help in the farm system. The great youth movement simply has misfired.
Two things, I think, can be done, Mike Higgins either must go or be made to realize that Geiger and Hardy are not Williams and Jensen, Higgins does not employ the Red Sox speed, rarely signaling for a sacrifice, stolen base, or hit and run.
Higgins refuses to play guts baseball, the only kind of game the Red Sox are suited to.
Secondly owner Tem Yawkey must trade for right-handed power--even if it means giving up Monbouquetts. With the strong right-hander from Medford, Yawkey could exact a big price from either the Yankees or the Twins.
Yawkey took over in Boston in 1933, and spared no expense in converting the team into a permanent contender for twenty-five years. As the Williamses, the Peskys, the Parnells and the Doerrs have disappeared, however, Yawkey has been unwilling to replenish the stock of fine players.
To prevent being left behind by their improved opposition, the Red Sox must obtain a new manager and possibly even some new players.
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