|Connelly’s Top Ten: Bengals in Town – Hide the Woman and Children and Lock the Doors||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 6, 2016||Connelly’s Top Ten: Brady Voted Worst Person in Sports – Sue!||Red Sox Toast – Patriot Time Only|
This past decade has been good to us Red Sox fans, as weird as that is to say. Up until Game 4 of the ALCS, it looked like it was going to be another 10 years of let downs. It turns out, we were wrong. With two World Championships, the Red Sox have truly been one of the best franchises in all of sports this past decade, and the only way to honor those players is to name the 2000-2009 Boston Red Sox All-Decade Team.
There is little competition for Jason Varitek in this category. Varitek has been the starting catcher for the Red Sox for almost the entire decade. Varitek put up strong numbers for the Red Sox over the last ten seasons, especially for a catcher, hitting .257, belting 148 home runs, and driving in 596 runs. His best seasons were 2003 through 2005, where he hit a total of 65 home runs and had 228 RBI with a .283 batting average.
Varitek’s greatest strength, however, came from behind the plate. He is well known for his ability to control the game from the catcher’s position. Vartiek has caught four no-hitters in his career, all coming this decade. The first was Hideo Nomo in 2001, then Derek Lowe in 2002, followed by Clay Buchholz in 2007, and finally Jon Lester in 2008. Even with his career coming to an end, and his numbers dropping off, Jason Varitek has been an outstanding player for this organization this past decade.
Honorable Mention: Doug Mirabelli
This spot on the All-Decade team was a two horse race between Youkilis and Kevin Millar. Youkilis burst on the scene as a third baseman for the Red Sox in 2004, but switched positions after the Red Sox acquired Mike Lowell in the Josh Beckett deal. Since being called up, Youkilis has hit .292 with 93 home runs and 408 RBI. He is a two time All-Star, the 2008 AL Hank Aaron Award winner, a Gold Glove winner in 2007, and has finished in the top 6 for MVP voting twice. He has solidified himself as one of the faces of the franchise, and should be in a Red Sox uniform for a long time.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Millar
Aside from Mark Bellhorn and Jose Offerman, Pedroia is the only player to play more than a season’s worth of games at second base for the Red Sox. Pedroia started his career playing only 31 games with the big club in 2006. The following season, his official rookie season, Pedroia became an instant star. After struggling early, Pedroia stormed back from criticism and won the Rookie of the Year award in 2007. Pedroia followed his rookie season with an incredible second season. In 2008, Pedroia hit .326 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI on his way to becoming an All-Star, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner. Oh, he also took home the 2008 MVP award. In his short career, Pedroia has hit .307 with 42 home runs and 212 RBI, making him an easy choice for the All-Decade team.
Honorable Mention: Todd Walker
It has been a while since the Red Sox had a good shortstop. Since the departure of Nomar, we have seen the likes of Pokey Reese, Nick Green, Edgar Renteria, and Julio Lugo come in to be the next starting shortstop of the Red Sox. To put it simply: we have yet to find the next Nomar for this organization. Garciaparra was the face of the franchise for many years. He was a star the instant he was called up, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1997.
In his three-and-a-half years as a Red Sox player this decade, Nomar hit .323 with 82 home runs and 350 RBI, while being plagued by injuries. In 2001, Nomar only played 21 games, and then only played 81 total in 2004 (38 with Boston, 43 with Chicago). This decade, Nomar made three All-Star teams with the Sox and led the league in batting in 2000, while playing exciting, but not great defense.
Honorable Mention: Alex Cora
This position was the toughest one for me to pick, so I decided to choose both top contenders. Bill Mueller was the starting third baseman for the Sox from 2003-2005. Mueller had a fantastic season in 2003, starting 146 games, hitting .326 with 19 home runs and 85 RBI. That year he won the batting title, the Silver Slugger award, and finished 12th in MVP voting. He never matched those numbers again, but his numbers in three seasons on the team were impressive: .303 AVG, 41 home runs, and 204 RBI. The one thing keeping Mueller from being an honorable mention were two events. The first was July 29, 2003 when Mueller became the only player ever to hit a grand slam from both sides of the plate. The second was in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, when Mueller hit a single off Mariano Rivera to score Dave Roberts and keep the Red Sox’ season alive.
Mike Lowell was quite the nice surprise for the Red Sox organization. In order to land Josh Beckett from the Marlins, the Red Sox had to take on Mike Lowell as well. Since joining the team in 2006, Lowell has hit .295 with 75 home runs and 348 RBI. In 2007, Lowell was an All-Star and finished 5th in the MVP voting after hitting .324 with 21 home runs and 120 RBIs, numbers which he has not come close to since. Lowell was also an important part in the Red Sox 2007 World Series Championship Team, and received the 2007 World Series MVP Award. Lowell has been plagued by injuries as of late, which kept him from being the lone Third Baseman of the All-Decade team.
Honorable Mention: Shea Hillenbrand
This was also a no-brainer. Despite his trade requests, “Manny Being Manny” moments, and spells where he does not try, Manny Ramirez is one of the best hitters of all-time. After signing with the Red Sox following the 2000 season, Ramirez made an instant splash with the organization. In his first season in Boston, Ramirez hit .306 with 41 home runs and 125 RBI. The numbers continued to rise after that season. In eight years in Boston, Ramirez hit .312 with 274 home runs and 868 RBI, helping Boston win two World Series titles.
As a Red Sox, Manny was an All-Star eight times, won the 2004 AL Hank Aaron Award, the 2004 World Series MVP award, six Silver Slugger awards, and one batting title. If you looked at the league leaders, you would almost always find Manny’s name somewhere atop the RBI or home run lists.
Honorable Mention: Jason Bay
The Red Sox signed Johnny Damon following the 2001 season and they had finally found their new starting center fielder. In four years with the Red Sox, Damon hit .295 with 56 home runs, 299 RBI, and 98 stolen bases. He was well-known for his long hair, beard, and “idiots” faze with Kevin Millar during the 2004 playoffs. He was a two-time All-Star in Boston, and led the AL in triples in 2002. Damon was typically mocked for having a weak arm, but his hitting more than made up for that shortcoming. After his four-year deal with Boston ended, Damon signed with the New York Yankees and forever became known as a traitor to Red Sox fans. However, as much as it hurt to see a Red Sox sign with the Yankees, Damon played outstanding baseball in Boston for four seasons and deserves a spot on the All-Decade team.
Honorable Mentions: Jacoby Ellsbury and Coco Crisp
Right Field was patrolled by Trot Nixon for many, many years. During this decade, the Trot hit .278 with 118 home runs and 471 RBI. Many Red Sox fans have the same image of Trot coming to the plate with a filthy helmet a wad of dip in his mouth. He was the true definition of a Boston Dirt Dog. Trot never won any awards, never was an All-Star, and will not make it to the Hall of Fame. The one thing that Trot did best, however, was play his heart out each and every game.
Honorable Mention: J.D. Drew
Like Varitek, there is no debate on who this spot would go to. Ortiz has been one of the most dominant designated hitters of all time as a member of the Red Sox. Ortiz joined the team as a free agent in 2003. In seven seasons with the Sox, he has hit .288 with 259 home runs and 830 RBI. When paired with Manny Ramirez, the two made one of the most feared 3-4 duos in baseball history.
This decade, Ortiz has made 5 All-Star teams, won the 2004 ALCS MVP, the 2005 Hank Aaron Award, and won 4 Silver Sluggers. He finished in the top 5 voting for MVP each year from 2003-2007, led the league in RBI in 2005 and 2006, walks in 2006 and 2007, home runs in 2006, and the list could go on and on. Despite steroid allegations, Ortiz remains one of the best players this decade, and in franchise history.
Honorable Mention: Manny Ramirez
Pedro Martinez was simply the most dominant pitcher to play for the Red Sox in this decade. While he is no longer the pitcher he was at the start of the decade, and really has not been since the Red Sox let him walk, Martinez was one of the most important parts of the 2004 World Series Champions. During his tenure with the Red Sox this decade (2000-2004), Pedro was 75-26 with a 2.53 ERA. In 2000, he was an All-Star and won the AL Cy Young Award. He led the AL in ERA in 2000, 2002, and 2003, and led the league in strikeouts in 2000 and 2002.
As for Tim Wakefield, it’s hard not to put him on the All-Decade team. Wakefield’s numbers are not that impressive, as he was 110-95 with a 4.33 ERA, but that is not where his importance lies. Wakefield has been a consistent performer in the Red Sox starting rotation for many years. He eats innings when the bullpen is tired, and can even pitch the occasional gem. His two biggest individual accomplishments were when he finished 4th in the AL in ERA in 2002 with a 2.81 ERA and made the 2009 All-Star team. While those numbers would normally keep him off many All-Decade teams, his unselfishness and incredible work ethic over the last 10 years made him a lock to make my team.
Honorable Mentions: Derek Lowe, Curt Schilling, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett
Papelbon was an obvious choice here. Since being called up in 2005, Papelbon has been one of the top closers in the league. He was originally brought up as a starting pitcher, but was moved to the bullpen due to the team’s severe need for help. Papelbon did not start closing until the 2006 season, and since then he has recorded 151 games with an ERA of 1.84, and has played in four All-Star games.
Mike Timlin was a solid, effective pitcher in Red Sox bullpen. In six seasons with the Red Sox, he had an ERA of 3.76 with 27 saves and a record of 30-22. His best year was in 2005, when he had a 2.24 ERA while appearing in 81 games, leading the league in appearances. He was also a member of both of Boston’s World Series teams. In 2007, Timlin was awarded the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for his work toward finding a cure for ALS.
Hideki Okajima was a surprise star when he came to over to Boston from Japan in 2007. Okajima had a fantastic first season in the bullpen, finishing with a 2.22 ERA in 69.0 innings, making the All-Star team, and finishing sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. His numbers have dropped since his successful first season, but he is still a formidable member in the back of the bullpen. In his three seasons with the Red Sox, Okajima has a 2.72 ERA, six saves, and a record of 12-4 in 192.0 innings.
Honorable Mentions: Derek Lowe, Manny Delcarmen
As if this any shock. Francona took over the team in 2004 after Grady Little kept Pedro in a little too long in the 2003 ALCS. In his first season as manager, Francona led the Red Sox to a World Series title, and later won another in 2007. Francona has yet to lose a World Series game after sweeping both St. Louis and Colorado. As the Red Sox manager, Francona has a record of 565-407 with one division title and five playoff appearances in six seasons.
Shotgun over at the Blue Workhorse put together his own version of the Red Sox All-Decade team. Disagree with either of us? Let us know by commenting below.
Tags: Bill Mueller, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Hideki Okajima, Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon, Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, Mike Timlin, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Red Sox, Terry Francona, Trot Nixon