One of the iconic images in all of baseball lives in Boston. The Green Monster. Even just two years ago, I used to see this all the time when the Red Sox were playing on Sunday Night Baseball every other week. Boston is a big market with lots of baseball fans, but even ESPN knows they can’t put a 69 win team on TV every other week and expect people to watch. Last year was horrible for the Red Sox. They thought they re-loaded with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, but those two were quickly jettisoned from Boston for little more than a salary dump. The one year experiment of bringing in Bobby Valentine failed miserably. Most say his style was too different from Terry Fracona’s that the clubhouse vets never let him take control. Most baseball managers should just get the hell out of the way if they want to do what’s best for there team anyway. red Sox didn’t win shit for 100 years then they won two World Series and have been competitive every year since 2003 until last year. The Celtics have been good and the Patriots are good. They won’t put up with 69 win seasons for long.
So the Red Sox made some moves to bring the team back from last place, right?
Major Off-Season Moves:
Is there anyone in this group under 40? Joel is, right? The Red Sox spent all that money they saved from Crawford and Gonzalez on this. I know Red Sox fans probably aren’t too happy about this. Three of them are on one year deals so that’s not too bad – Napoli, Drew, and Hanrahan. Dempster and Gomes are on two year deals. But Victorino is one a three year deal at $13M per. That doesn’t seem like a good way to spend the money you just saved Carl Crawford huge contract. They needed to fill significant holes, but I think they will be regretting the Victorino deal very soon. The bright side of these deals is that they did fill those holes. Each one of these players will get major at bats or innings pitched this year.
Now onto the lineup after the jump.
Likely Starting Lineup:
One thing that stands out right away when looking down the lineup is potential health concerns. Can Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz stay healthy the entire year. Ellsbury has missed significant time two out of the last three years. Pedroia is pretty durable but he plays a position prone to injuries. Ortiz is coming off an Achilles injury and will likely start the year on the DL. If these three play a majority of the games, then they can be counted on to put up All-star caliber numbers. Napoli is a fresh face but faces similar concerns as the previous guys. He had some injury concerns before signing the contract but fortunately should mostly avoid playing catcher and spend most of this time at 1B or DH. Will Middlebrooks is the lone youngster out here. He isn’t likely to be a perennial All-Star but he’ll be easily above average and should man 3B for Boston for the foreseeable future. Gaah…the last three here are…interesting. Veteran signees for Boston that they are hoping they’ll plug holes and play to career averages. Ehh…not too exciting.
Likely Starting Rotation:
Jon Lester was once a young good pitcher on the cusp of becoming a true ace. Now it seems he is a grizzled vet trying to get his mojo back. He’s had a rough year last year posting a 4.82 ERa after four straight years of mid to low threes. If Boston is to have any chance this season, he needs to return to form. I touched on Dempster earlier, but needless to say, this is the caliber of FA signing for the No.2 spot the Red Sox fans are used to. Clay Bucholz flashed brilliance in 2010 but has been in steady decline since then. He’s 28 now so I don’t know if he just had one good year or if he still has time to figure it out. Felix Doubront isn’t really worth mentioning beyond the fact that he is cheap and that is his highest value. Dear lord I would hate myself if I were paying $15M for John Lackey to hang a 6+ ERA out there. The shitty thing for Boston is he is that he is around for two more years. Sorry. Just pray he can manage to keep his ERA under 5.00 this year.
79-83, 5th place in AL East
Usually finishing just below .500 wouldn’t land you in last place, but the AL East is typically a monster. The subtle difference this year is that there isn’t one or two dominant teams but all the teams have strong points. The Red Sox just have more problems than all the other teams. The Red Sox would need a miracle to make the playoffs this year in a tough division. That said, I only have them in 5th place by a few games so I can see them hovering around the middle if they don’t catch any unlucky breaks. Whoops. I should say breaks in the same article as Jacoby Ellsbury. Like I said before, this fan base no longer suffers from a long winning drought. They expect winning. We’ll see how long John Farrell is able to hang around with that kind of pressure.