Kids Getting it Done for Red Sox

Red Sox race for the East

Red Sox race for the East

Ryan Thomas

For as long as I could remember, the Red Sox had nobody down on the farm. Yea, sure, there was Mo Vaughn in the 90’s and there was Trot Nixon up until last season. But Trot Nixon couldn’t stay healthy for more than a week at a time and Mo Vaughn is still getting an MLB income today for carrying his gut around in a wheelbarrow while opening car washes in the Greater Boston Area.

I’m sure both you and me are happy now that the Sox farm system has more talent than a Victoria’s Secret lingerie show. You have to give General Manager and Pearl Jam aficionado Theo Epstein most of the credit for this, even if you are still bitter about Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew and Matt Clement.

In this season alone, the Red Sox of the future have made a significant impact on the here and now. If not for Epstein and Co.’s nifty draft work, we would not have seen Clay Bucholz’s no-hitter, Jonathan Papelbon’s constant game-ending fist pumps, Manny Delcarmen’s emergence in the bullpen, Kevin Youkilis’ versatility, (and for the matter, all the Yoooooouuuuuuk chants heard throughout the country) Jon Lester’s re-emergence, Dustin Pedroia’s stellar rookie campaign or Jacoby Ellsbury’s best impression of Johnny Damon circa 2003.

Times are-a changing here in Boston, and I couldn’t be happier. Looking back just two or three years ago, one was hard-pressed to find a single homegrown player contributing to the Red Sox, never mind four or five of them. The 2004 World Championship team held on its roster only one player (Trot Nixon) who came up through the farm system. In the 1990’s when the New York Yankees dynasty was in its prime, that team held six star athletes who were either drafted or signed by the Yankees first.

Derek Jeter, (a first-ballot Hall of Famer) Andy Pettitte, (199 game-winner and borderline HOF’er) Jorge Posada (numbers are similar to Carlton Fisk’s) Mariano Rivera, (arguably the best closer ever) Orlando Hernandez, (El Duque always rose to the occasion) and Bernie Williams, (five-time All-Star and class guy) were all home grown guys who anchored their roster and propelled the Yankees to four titles in five seasons (it would have been five in six years if not for those pesky Diamondbacks in 2001).

The Red Sox are working the same kind of farm system magic as we speak.

Jonathan Papelbon has nailed down his second consecutive 35 save season with the Red Sox, and in impressive fashion too. He is now the most dominant closer in all of baseball.

Dustin Pedroia’s lack-luster start to the season is ancient history as he is the front-runner to win Rookie of the Year in the talent laden American League, not to mention that David Ortiz bench presses his weight on a daily basis.

Kevin Youkilis, a.k.a. The Greek God of Walks has just set a record for consecutive errorless games at first base and is a fan favorite for willingness to play on two broken legs while bleeding from the mouth, if nothing else.

Many Delcarmen has flown under the radar this season even though he has been one of the many mainstays in the Sox deeper-than-the-Pacific-Ocean bullpen. And he’s from Hyde Park to boot.

Jon Lester will have a place in all Red Sox fans’ hearts because of what he’s gone through in the past 12 months, but the bottom line is that he will only improve and his game looks like a young Andy Pettitte’s.

Jacoby Ellsbury’s play since being called up September 1 has been out of this world. He has single-handedly made the Red Sox’ fan base want to throw J.D. Drew off the Zakim Bridge and instead put Ellsbury in right field because of his glove, speed, bat and willingness to give a crap.

Maybe the best prospect of all in the Red Sox system, Clay Buchholz wowed everyone against the Orioles when he threw the first rookie no-hitter in Red Sox history. Just watch him take Curt Schilling’s spot in the rotation in 2008.

These Red Sox are poised to appear and win this season’s World Series. But unlike 2004’s version, they’re not getting old or up for contract extensions. This team is built for now and for the future, so expect them to be in October for many years to come.

And while you’re at it, try and forget Renteria, Drew and Clement and thank Theo Epstein for making your Sox relevant for years to come.