2008 MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox

Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here

BOSTON RED SOX

Ranks

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.

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8 Responses

  1. Did you do your rankings before Schilling went down? I hope so because there is no way Beckett, Dice-K, Buchholz, Wakefield, and Lester is the 2nd best rotation in MLB, not even close. Bucholz has three career starts, Lester’s career ERA is almost 5, and Japenese pitchers always seem to get “figured out” after initial success. Beckett is dynamite when healthy but he is not that far removed from his 5.01 ERA in 2006. And that’s not to mention Tim Wakefield. While the Sox are formidable any way you look at it, I don’t think they’re a “lock” for anything.

  2. A couple things….

    – the top 5 or so rotations in the MLB were very bunched together and could really be interchangible.
    – i did do the rankings before schilling got hurt. instead of re-ordering everything, i went back and gave him the lowest score possible. However, Dice-K, Lester and Wakefield all got high scores are 3-4-5 starters.
    – I think Dice-K will be better this year than last, and his dip will come next year. He tired at the end of the year.
    – I think Lester will be very good this year (for a 4th starter) and graded him accordingly.
    – any team with a 5th starter that can stand up straight (wakefield in this case) gets a high grade.
    – so Boston benefitted from a dominant ace, and very good depth 3-5.

    also – i never said “lock” anywhere. no one is a “lock” to make the playoffs this year.

  3. In a day and age where Carlos signs an 8 figure contract, I think your comment about a good 5th starter being able to stand up straight is very fitting, however it’s not a given that Wakefield will even be able to do that.

    Well, with that said, I’m eager to see the rest of your rankings to see how you compare the various the rotations. I won’t even pretend to have put in a fraction of the thought that you have but the fact that Bucholz and Lester are so unproven and Wakefield so old, I would have to think that rotations like SD, NYM, LAA, and Arizona are just as good as Boston.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Woops, by Carlos I meant Carlos Silva

  5. To Gargs- While I agree Japanese pitchers usally do well the 1st year or then fall off, and Dice-K is still unproven, most Japanese pitchers who came over relied heavily on deception more so then stuff. Now Dice-K dosent have the greatest arsenal, but he does have good stuff and dosent rely on deception and hiding the ball. But we will se who is right and who’s wrong at the end of the season.

  6. […] The ReclinerGM Sports Blog wrote an interesting post today on 2008 MLB Preview: Boston Red SoxHere’s a quick excerptThey 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…. […]

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