Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here
BOSTON RED SOX
Overall – 89 points (1st MLB, 1st AL)
Starting Rotation – 35 points (2nd MLB, 2nd AL)
Line-Up – 34 points (T-8th MLB, T-4th AL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 19 points (1st MLB, 1st AL)
Offseason Addtions – David Aardsma (get excited Boston fans!)
Offseason Subtractions – Brendan Donnelly, Eric Gagne, Eric Hinske, Bobby Kielty
Biggest Strength– Depth
In a 162 game season, players are going to get injured. The thing about these Red Sox is, when their players get injured, they really don’t have to worry about it. Case and point, the likely career-ending injury to Curt Schilling. Yawn. Their 6th starter happens to be 23 year old Clay Buchholz who posted a 1.59 ERA in 3 starts last year, one of which was a no-hitter. Position player gets hurt? They got Coco Crisp and Sean Casey off the bench. Need a player at the deadline? Their farm-system is stocked enough to make that happen. Bottom line: A whole lot is going to have to go wrong for this team to miss the playoffs.
Biggest Weakness– Starting Rotation
There are no glaring weaknesses on this team, but an area that might become a concern is the rotation. Schilling’s career is likely over, Beckett has a history of injury problems, and they have 2 exceptionally talented, but unproven, young pitchers in Buchholz and Jon Lester, taking spots in the rotation.
Key Player in ’08 – Manny Ramirez
The team benifitted from a lot of players having career years in 2007, and was therefore able to overcome the worst offensive year of Ramirez’ career (.296, 20 HR, 88 RBI, .493 SLG%). Chances are they will need a lot more out of Ramirez in ’08, especially if David Ortiz isn’t fully recovered from knee surgery.
Player to Keep an Eye On – Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury, 24, hit .353 in 116 AB in 2007 and provided a huge spark for the Sox as they surged towards a title. Ellsbury’s speed on the bases and with the bat will put him in a position to win a batting title and steal 40 bases in the future.
Outlook/Prediction – 1st Place, AL East. Even though they got the highest score in my ratings system, I don’t think the Red Sox will repeat as world champions. They won’t get another MVP-caliber season from Mike Lowell, I suspect Buchholz and Lester will show some growing pains and when Beckett takes his yearly trip to the DL, the team might hit a slide. They added nothing to the team, and I’m one that believes a whole lot has to go your way to win a World Series, and without a historically dominant team, it’s almost impossible to repeat. Nevertheless, there are way too many good players on this team for them to miss the playoffs.