Leading up to the start of the 2009 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Boston Red Sox. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
The Boston Red Sox nearly made it back to the World Series last year, and if they had they might of given Philadelphia a better run for their money then the Tampa Bay Rays did. The Red Sox aren’t quite ready for their run at the top to come to an end, but a glance at their roster reveals a veteran heavy squad and few guys on the upswing of their career. It could an interesting year in Boston.
We feel that Terry Francona is one of the finest managers in all of baseball. Francona has won two titles and fell just short last season. Francona is a few more good years away from being a Hall of Fame manager. His in game adjustments are always on point and his players love him. He is the perfect manager for Boston.
The Red Sox lineup will be headed up with young star Jacoby Elsbury. Elsbury is part of that homegrown nucleus in Boston and is a guy who figures to be a major fixture in this organization for the next decade. This year he’ll approach 60 stolen bases and 20 home runs. He reminds us more of Grady Sizemore then any other player in baseball. They are nearly carbon copies o fone another. A 100 run season for Elsbury should be a given. The second hitter is the reigning MVP Dustin Pedroia. David Ortiz hits third in the lineup but without the protection of Manny Ramirez. Ortiz is another year older and while preliminary reports say he’s in great shape, it’s a real question mark year for Ortiz. Kevin Youkilis is approaching icon status in Boston and will hit cleanup. The guy has made himself into a great hitter and run producer. J.D. Drew when healthy is an excellent player still with a good bat. Jason Bay is another guy who quietly fits into the Beantown lineup perfectly. Mike Lowell is back as a fan favorite at the hot corner. Jed Lowrie is a newcomer at shortstop and has the breakout potential that Pedroia did a few years back. The captain Jason Varitek is back behind the plate for another season. Rocco Baldelli was acquired for depth quality and Julio Lugo may be available in trade if Lowry is decent.
The Red Sox added Brad Penny and John Smoltz in the offseason from the NL. Josh Beckett is the Opening Day starter. Beckett has been pretty ordinary for his standards during the regular season the past few years and has had some mileage put on his arm along with injuries. Dice-K Matsuzaka is the two starter. Jon Lester could be the team’s ace by season’s end. Tim Wakefield is back for another year, and he could probably throw for another decade.
Jonathan Papelbon is back as the closer and should be among the game’s elite in 2009. When he comes into a game in the 9th, it’s usually over. Justin Masterson, Hideki Okajima, and Manny Delcarmen are other very good arms in that bullpen that make it one of the toughest in baseball on the rare night that the starting rotation needs bailed out.
We just aren’t high on their lineup. Sure, it is better then 75% of lineups just by showing up because they’re an elite team. But in that division, they don’t stack up that well against the Rays and the Yankees. The pitching and Tito Francona will keep them close, but in the end they are probably going to finish behind a Yankees team that has them out-gunned. Beantown has their work cut out for them in 2009.