AL East Preview: Boston Red Sox

Aceves dealing with a lower back issue
Darvish hints at MLB dreams

Over the next four days we will preview the teams the Yankees will play most frequently in 2010. Kicking things off is the team they will face on Sunday night, the Boston Red Sox.

Lineup

The Red Sox have quite a different look than they did in the mid- and late-00s. Gone are the days of the best 3-4 combination in baseball, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Now Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis will assume those roles. They might not be as intimidating as their predecessors, but they’re both excellent hitters who will provide the bulk of the power in the Sox lineup.

Photo credit: Steve Senne/AP

Among all major league catchers last year, Victor Martinez ranked third in wOBA, behind Joe Mauer and Jorge Posada. That can be an outstanding advantage, but it’s not always the case for Martinez. Of his 672 plate appearances in 2009, just 366 game as a catcher, or 54.5 percent. Even after his move to the Sox he started just 31 of 53 games at catcher. He otherwise played first base, but that becomes more of a problem this season. Not only is Youkilis entrenched as the starter, but the Sox also have Adrian Beltre at third and Mike Lowell as the first guy to back up both positions. The Red Sox will apparently find out if Martinez can handle an entire season behind the plate.

Youkilis ranked fourth in wOBA among major league first basemen, finishing ahead of Mark Teixeira. Youkilis accomplishes this mostly with his plate discipline. His 13.1 walk rate led to a .413 OBP, besting Teixeira’s mark by .030. For Youkilis it was yet another improvement in his wOBA. Since becoming a full-time player in 2006 he’s seen improvement every year, going from .357 to .373 to .402 to .413. Combine that with quality defense — his 9.1UZR/150 over the past three seasons ranks best in baseball — and he becomes an all-around threat. He might not be Manny, but Youkilis is a perfectly capable cleanup hitter and first baseman for the Red Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury will again hit in the leadoff spot, after posting a .355 OBP in 2009. Though he doesn’t have a lot of power, just a .114 ISO over the past two seasons, he gains an extra base out of many walks and singles. Last year he led the AL with 70 steals while getting caught only 12 times, a stellar 85.4 percent success rate. That means having a runner in scoring position more frequently for not only Pedroia, but also the middle of the order. Ellsbury has come close to 100 runs in each of the past two seasons, and could finally eclipse that mark in 2010.

Photo credit: Steve Senne/AP

Dustin Pedroia didn’t reproduce his 2008 MVP campaign in 2009, but he still turned in a quality season. His BABIP fell to .297, from around .330 in the previous two years. That put his average 30 points below his 2008 level, though he compensated by raising his walk rate by 3.5 percent. If he keeps up that walk rate and sees a rebound in his BABIP, he could be in for another killer season. In fact, if Ellsbury continues improving and Pedroia rebounds to near his 2008 levels, the middle of the Sox order will have plenty of opportunities to drive home runs. We’ve heard concerns about the Sox offense this off-season, but I just don’t see it. As I’ve laid out here, their top four hitters are all offensive weapons.

David Ortiz moved out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup last year, and it appears the move was permanent. He’ll bat fifth to start 2010, though that could change depending on how he hits. If he starts off as slow as he did last season he could drop even further, perhaps all the way to seventh. His value comes mostly from his power, the main aspect that recovered later in the year. From June 11 through the end of the season he hit .264/.356/.549, so his SLG more than doubled his BA. At 34 years old and after struggles in the past two seasons, it’s unlikely that Ortiz ever finds a .400 OBP again, but he can still help the team with his power.

The lineup becomes a question at this point. While Terry Francona knows the players who will fill the spots, he doesn’t know exactly how they’ll be arranged. J.D. Drew is probably the next best hitter in the lineup, but Francona wants to avoid batting lefties back to back. He’ll likely do that, though, since Drew is clearly a better hitter than Adrian Beltre or Mike Cameron. In fact, if Ortiz struggles Drew could find himself hitting fifth. After that Cameron and Beltre will hit in front of Marco Scutaro, the coveted wrap-around leadoff hitter. It’s unlikely that Scutaro reproduces his excellent 2009 campaign, but he’ll certainly present an upgrade over the smorgasbord of shortstops the Sox have trotted out over the past few years.

A fully recovered Mike Lowell could provide pop off the bench, hitting for Scutaro when the team needs a base hit. He could also pinch hit for Cameron in a situation where the team needs a base hit. Cameron gets on base at a decent clip and hits for power, but his batting average always sits around .250. With, say, the tying run on second Francona might be more comfortable with Lowell at the plate. There’s also the possibility that he pinch hits for Beltre, but that would signal that the latter isn’t getting the job done at the plate. In that case, Lowell might be making a bid to reclaim his place at third. I wouldn’t bank on it, though; the Sox signed Beltre primarily for defense, and by most accounts Lowell just isn’t up to speed in the field.

Pitching

Photo credit: Charles Krupa/AP

Like the Yankees, the Red Sox are trying to discard the notion of a fifth starter, instead employing a slew of ones, twos, and threes. In fact, their rotation looks a lot like the Yankees: three ones and twos on top (CC, A.J., and Javy vs. Beckett, Lester, and Lackey), a young but promising starter (Hughes vs. Buchholz) and an older but solid option at the back of the rotation (Wakefield vs. Pettitte). But just because they break down similarly does not mean that the talent and depth is equal.

Last season at this time, commentators lauded the Red Sox pitching depth. Not only did they have a solid starting five, but they also had Clay Buchholz in the minors and John Smoltz on his way to a June debut. Injuries and ineffectiveness derailed that plan, though, and the Sox scrambled for pitching most of the season. This year they’re in a slightly worse spot, though the top of their rotation is stronger wit the addition of John Lackey. He’ll join Josh Beckett and Jon Lester to form perhaps the best 1-2-3 in baseball.

Injuries are still where the Sox are vulnerable. It appears Josh Beckett’s yearly DL trips have been replaced by yearly bumps and bruises that keep him out of action for a little bit, but which have not necessitated DL trips. From 2002 through 2005 he missed a total of 222 days to the disabled list and another eight with a blister issue. He has spent just 50 days on the DL with the Red Sox, and missed just five days total in 2009. He’d help not only the team, but himself, with another injury free season. He’s a free agent come November, and will be among the most coveted pitchers on the market.

Photo credit: Richard Drew/AP

It appears that John Lackey won’t miss the beginning of his third straight season with arm troubles, but after missing 103 days over the past two seasons he still presents a risk. The Red Sox did insert language into his contract covering them in case he needs surgery on his elbow, but that concerns the future. There’s nothing the Sox can do if he gets injured now, and especially nothing they can do if he doesn’t need surgery. Still, he’s been strong in the past two years after recovering from his injuries. A repeat of last year would be an enormous gain for the Sox rotation.

Wakefield also presents injury concern. He missed 62 days last season, including 48 on the DL, with various back issues. He has spent time on the DL with back issues in each of the past three, and missed 57 days with a ribcage stress fracture in 2006. If he can get through April then Daisuke Matsuzaka might be ready to take his place in the rotation. But, again, Matsuzaka spent most of last year on the DL and has had issues in camp this year. He’ll be out for a month or so to start the 2010 season.

Photo credit: Charles Riedel/AP

The Sox need not worry themselves with Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Since returning from cancer treatment Lester hasn’t spent a day on the DL, nor has he missed a start because of injury. He started off slow last year, but if he pitches like he did from May 21 on last season — 156.1 IP, 2.48 ERA — he’ll again head the Red Sox rotation. Beckett might head it in name, but Lester could be the better performer. He should be a lesson applied to all young pitchers. After struggling with a high walk rate in the minor and his first two partial MLB seasons he turned it around in 2008, bringing his mark to below 3 BB/9. The Red Sox exercised patience, and it paid off.

Boof Bonser, Michael Bowden, and Junichi Tazawa represent the next pitchers in line for a starting shot, and none is all that inspiring. Tazawa has the highest ceiling of the trio and performed well last season after a rocky start to his MLB career. If one has to make double digit starts it shouldn’t be a huge problem. But if the Sox have to employ more than one, at once, then they could find trouble with the rotation. Considering their injury potential, they can’t be too happy about that. But with an already deep rotation, it’s tough to find quality depth.

The bullpen is still strong, with Hideki Okajima and Dan Bard setting up Jon Papelbon. Apparently Papelbon understands the issue with him throwing fastball every time and will mix in his splitter more this season. Other than that the Sox have questions in the bullpen, from Manny Delcarmen’s inconsistency to Bonser’a sbility to hold down the long man role. Ramon Ramirez shouldn’t be as much of a question mark, though his numbers did dip after an indefatigable start to last season. If Bard continues to improve he, along with Papelbon and Okajima, could create one of the top endgames in the league.

Adding it all up

Because they were bounced in the ALDS, and because the Yankees went on to win the World Series, I feel like the Sox have been undersold this winter. They approached the off-season with a plan, and a plan I think will work out well for them. The best offensive players on the market came at a high long-term cost, so the Red Sox decided to put their money into defense and pitching, a strategy that might help neutralize the better offenses in the league.

All around the diamond they feature plus defenders. Again, Youkilis ranks first among first basemen in UZR/150 over the past three years. Pedroia ranks fifth among second basemen (and only 0.1 behind No. 4), Scutaro ranks eighth among shortstops (with at least 2,000 innings), and Beltre ranks fifth among third basemen. They added a plus defender in Cameron to go with Drew’s plus defense. And, although UZR didn’t rate Ellsbury as a quality center fielder last season he still could be an asset in left.

If the Sox have a weakness this season it’s their injury vulnerability. One of their Opening Day starters is already on the DL, and his replacement, Wakefield, features a rough recent injury history. Beckett and Lackey have also spent a good deal of time on the DL in their careers, causing a bit more concern. Their depth isn’t good enough to adequately cover more than one injury at a time, meaning health is a huge key for them, more so, perhaps, than for most other teams. Commentators rave about their medical staff, though, so perhaps that will factor positively into their season.

One thing is for certain: do not sleep on the Sox. They have assembled a very strong team that will battle to the end with the Yankees and Rays for the AL East crown. If they catch the breaks that the Yanks did last season, they could certainly have a long playoff run in them.

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Aceves dealing with a lower back issue
Darvish hints at MLB dreams
  • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

    Agreed. They’ll be tougher this year. Normally I’d argue thr starting pitching depth the Yankees have is greater than the Sox and thus would have the better performing rotation since key rotation pitchers have some concerns.

    But with Guadin gone, Aceves hurting and their unwillingness to let Joba start is also concerning.

    • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

      Oh I forgot to mention but imagine if the Sox aren’t a small market team with their 170 M payroll.

      If they had the money they’ll definitely beat the Yanks.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Well, while our SP depth took a hit, we’re still probably equal to or better than Boston.

      6-Aceves (he’ll be back eventually)
      7-Mitre
      8-Nova
      9-Hirsh
      10-McAllister

      6-Matsuzaka (he’ll be back eventually)
      7-Bonser
      8-Bowden
      9-Tazawa
      10-Felix Doubront?

      That looks like a push, IMO. Maybe Sox by a tiny amount (if Dice-K comes back strong, which may not happen) but nothing to be worried about.

      • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

        Yeah it looks pretty even.

        However the Yankees have less concerns. CC and Javy are locks for 200 + innings. AJ may have learned how to pitch full seasons. Pettitte is older so we don’t know but hey he also soaks up a lot of innings.

      • bexarama

        what the heck is going on with Dice-K? Anyone in Boston know? I thought he was gonna be okay for the regular season when he was pitching in ST games, but then he’s not in the rotation to start the year. Is he going on the DL? To the minors?

        • Alex S

          i think he’s making a late april comeback

          • Templeton “Brendog” Peck

            plus hasn’t wakefield just dazzled in ST? and ST numbers are all that matters

      • bexarama
        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          Ruh-roh, Raggy!

          • rbizzler

            Yup, that is an ominous visit to say the least.

            Where is the Diamond Cutter Extraordinaire when you need some positive spin on a Boston problem.

            Is Peter napping again?

  • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

    My hatred for them is deep and unparalleled in its venom. May they finish in last both now and every year until they are disbanded, and Fenway is burned to the ground.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      I hope they leave the dump up for eternity. Let them squeeze in their 38,000 fans every night and fall farther behind the Yanks in the financial sweepstakes.

      • http://www.yfsf.org AndrewYF

        BUT TEH SELLOUT STREAK!!!!?!?

        Tell me, when was the last time Yankee stadium sold fewer than 38,000 seats?

    • jim p

      No! I won’t hear it!

      Have Fenway moved to be one of our minor league fields. The rest of what you said is fine.

    • Tom Swift

      May they move to Montreal and call themselves the “Expos.”

  • Bo

    Their lineup will be their downfall. They dont have enough off firepower to win it.

    • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

      Hmm..Bo’s being Bo on another team. Never thought I’d see the day.

    • Mike Pop

      But their pitching and defense more than makes up for that. Plus, as my man Pawlikowski mentioned, you can expect improvements.

    • rex manning day

      Boston scored 872 runs last year, and are projected to score around 840 this year. That’s a decline, but 840 is still a lot of runs–in fact, 840 runs-scored last year would have put Boston in 3rd place in the Majors, 20 ahead of the 4th place Phillies.

      Don’t be fooled by the fact that Boston improved their pitching and defense more than their offense this offseason; their offense is still a beast. They’re going to score more than enough runs to win a ton of games.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Yup.

        Boston’s projected lineup, with three-year wRC+s:

        Ellsbury- 148, 100, 114
        Pedroia- 120, 133, 118
        Martinez- 130, 89, 131
        Youkilis- 125, 147, 153
        Drew- 107, 145, 137
        Ortiz- 176, 126, 104
        Cameron- 111, 117, 113
        Beltre- 113, 108, 87
        Scutaro- 88, 92, 117

        The Weak Sisters of the Poor, they are not.

  • pete

    People massively undersell just how good Kevin Youkilis and JD Drew are as overall players. Each ranks among the elite at his position over the past several years. I think you hit the nail on the head though – they can’t sustain an injury bug. Nonetheless, they’re an exceptional team that would win 5 of the divisions in baseball.

    I hope there’s a Rays preview coming up.

    • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

      Seriously. Drew is a .900 OPS player with positive defense. If Boston hates him I’d be glad to take him.

      • Mike Pop

        Drew can go with the best of them when healthy, that’s for sure. I never realized how good he was.

        • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

          Nick Swisher 2009 wRC+: 132
          JD Drew 2009 wRC+: 137

          • pete

            JD Drew 2009 UZR: +10.8

            JD Drew is the Kevin Youkilis of Right Field

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              And yet, Sox fans hate him. Probably because he can’t grow a registered-sex-offender dead-squirrel-chinstrap beard.

              • ecksodia

                I lol’ed. Also, according to Bill Simmons, it’s because he’s injury prone, and called that grand slam he hit in the playoffs a few years back the “$14M grand slam”.

                Also, how about that catch in the 15 inning game?

          • Mike Pop

            That catch he made in the 15 inning game.

            • bexarama

              I literally screamed “F-CK YOU!!!!!!” at my television when that happened. Just amazing. And once we won the game, I admit I watched it like four times when the highlights went up online. That was one HELL of a catch.

      • bexarama

        I have no idea why people hate JD Drew in Boston. It’s bizarre. They’re STILL going on about how he’s not clutch despite the fact that he had several big hits in their 2007 run as well as 2008.

        • pete

          Well, some NY fans still dislike swisher, though drew is significantly better than swisher, no offense to swish

        • Mike Pop

          Cause they have idiot fans just like the Yankees. A lot of them hate Manny. Ugh! at those people.

        • Rick in Boston

          It’s the injuries. They expect him to play day in and day out, even with a bum back.

          • bexarama

            I’ve seen a few people mention the injuries but wayyyy more people go on about “sure he gets on base, but eventually you’re gonna have to have a big hit!!!!” WTF what was that grand slam in the 2007 ALCS?

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

            Presumably that’s why they call him “Nancy Drew”. Always makes me laugh.

            He’s been one of their best and most consistent players since he got there, even with his missed time, yet a significant portion of their fans hate him, vociferously and consistently. Truly bizarre. Just another example of the “narrative/emotion over reality/stats” crowd.

      • radnom

        Went to school in Boston the past 4 years.

        People lightened up a lot on Drew after his grandslam in the palyoffs (in 2007?). Up until that he had been injured/struggling to an extent.

        I wouldn’t say that the fans really hate him. Its just that he makes more money than any other Red Sox player, but is far from their best player (and gets dinged up often). He just isn’t the player they (unrealistically) thought they were getting when he signed.

        • bexarama

          I guess I can understand this POV, not that I agree with it but I get why people think that. It’s the same POV really dumb Yankee fans had about A-Rod for years.

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

          This may be mostly true; but I have seen dozens of posts on mlb.com (consider the source, I know) from rabid Red Sox fans who absolutely detest J.D. Drew and would have a party if he were traded for Kei Igawa tomorrow.

          (OK, maybe I went a little too far with the hyperbole there, but you get my drift!)

          • bexarama

            whoah whoah whoah, mlb.com does not count. I could vomit all over my computer screen right now and it would make more sense than an average mlb.com comment.

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

              Heh.

              To be fair, there are a few commenters there who actually breathe through their noses. I used to spend time over there attempting to stem the tide of intellectual suicide, with the aid of a lonely few who were not of the emotional/narrative-driven type.

              But…it just got too depressing, and I was in danger of becoming this guy, again: http://xkcd.com/386/

  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

    I, too, slightly disagree with the alarmism about Boston’s offense. Their top five hitters–some combo of Pedroia, Youkilis, Drew, Ellsbury,and Martinez–is still real good and Beltre and Cameron could see improvements as RHH in a RHH-friendly park. If I’m Francona, here’s how I order them:

    1. Pedroia
    2. Drew
    3. Youkilis
    4. Martinez
    5. Cameron
    6. Beltre
    7. Ortiz
    8. Scutaro
    9. Ellsbury

    That lineup may not match New York’s, but at least “Yankees Lite” and with their improved defense and pitching, they should be more than fine. They and the Yankees should win 90+ without too much trouble.

    • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

      Though the chances of Terry using that are slim. Sentimentality being a big part of it I would think.

      But Drew and his .392 OBP not in front of Youk and V-Mart is fine by me.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        Haha, totally agree. You could flip Beltre and Ortiz if you like. Either way, it’s a lineup that works.

        • rbizzler

          Agreed. Spots 1-4 put a lot of pressure on pitchers and with Ells in the 9 hole he could do some damage with good bat control guys hitting when he is one base.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Beltre and Cameron could see improvements as RHH in a RHH-friendly park.

      Seconded. They both have enough power to poke out opposite-field homers, but they’ll benefit mightily from scores of would-be warning-track flyouts being Green-Monster doubles. Fenway helps pretty much every hitter. I expect solid bouncebacks for both Beltre and Cameron. Good buys.

      • pete

        yup.

    • pete

      I think the ideal sox lineup would look like this:

      Drew
      Pedroia
      Martinez
      Youkilis
      Ortiz
      Ellsbury
      Cameron
      Beltre
      Scutaro

      But I have no problem with the sox not going with that lol

  • Rob

    Let’s not forget that the Sox stack their lineup with right-handed pull hitters who use the Wall. It’s why their offense is consistently better at home and much better there for guys like Pedroia (+.150 OPS) and Ellsbury (+.100 OPS) and now Beltre, Cameron, and Scutaro. As such, the Sox have only had a winning season on the road once in the last four years (2007). It will really be that simple for this team. If they’re winning road games, they’re a force. If they’re not, they’re also rans.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      As such, the Sox have only had a winning season on the road once in the last four years (2007).

      Nice stat callout.

      • Rob

        Dank you, dank you very much.

        I’m still waiting for the MSM to pick up on the fact that Pedroia is a .750 OPS hitter outside of his home bandbox. But then, I guess we can expect the red carpet to Cooperstown a la Rice?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          Normally, I don’t vote for any guys on the first ballot, but his grit won me over.

          Sincerely,
          Corky Simpson, 2026

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      As such, the Sox have only had a winning season on the road once in the last four years (2007).

      Boom. Roasted.

      • Rob

        Yup. FOr all of the YFs not down with Gardner, all they need to know is in Boston he’s clearly a starter. They just call him Jacoby.

        • rbizzler

          More like Gardy+ as Jacoby has a bit more pop than GGBG (and always has in the minors). Although, I do think that they are a lot more comparable than people think.

    • bexarama

      They won 95 games last year in the AL East. That’s not an “also ran” team. Though I do think they weren’t as good as that record would suggest.

      • Rob

        Because they load up on victories at home. That’s the Theo strategy. If they win 50+ games at home, they’re going to approach 95 wins even if they lose a bunch on the road. It’s a decent strategy, given their ballpark, but it makes them perpetually overrated. Then when it comes to the playoffs, they get spanked without homefield advantage (which they had in 2007).

        • bexarama

          You do have a pretty good point, and they had a crazy good offense in 2003 and 2004 as well as winning records on the road, though not overwhelmingly so.

          2008 Sox didn’t really get spanked, though if Madden isn’t an idiot, the Rays probably win in five, so maybe they did.

  • Rogue Trader

    I wonder why ESPN is broadcasting the game on ESPN2? Like really, what are they going to give on ESPN that night?

    • Rick in Boston

      UConn women’s basketball winning another national title. Seriously, ESPN is pandering to its home state market like never before.

      • CountryClub

        It has nothing to do with Uconn. The title game will be on ESPN whether Uconn is there or not.

        • andrew

          But UConn will be there.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        Hey, the Men’s team was shit this year. They’re all this state has okay?!

        /bummed we have no pro teams.

      • Rogue Trader

        Ah, ok that’s fine. Let them have their time, many more games will be on ESPN. I love sunday night baseball.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          I’m still mad that I was lied to in regards to Morgan/Miller splitting up.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        http://www.cbssports.com/general/story/8322725

        It’s 5 years old, but it basically says that women’s college basketball is a fairly profitable TV venture that draws very good ratings (the 2004 UConn-Tennessee title game drew 3.8M households, which is pretty equitable to many regular season baseball national broadcasts), and that WCB hits many key advertising demos (which would be very important to ESPN).

        ESPN probably makes more money putting the women’s title game on the big network and moving one of the 50+ baseball games they’ll broadcast this year to ESPN2, even if it’s a Red Sox/Yankees marquee matchup, as opposed to vice versa.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      What that UConn team is doing is amazing. I don’t care if it’s womens basketball or not, that winning streak is impressive.

  • Rick in Boston

    I’ll say this, maybe it’s the weather, maybe they think the Celtics will do something come the playoffs. But for whatever reason, the Sox Nation isn’t being as vocal as normal heading into the regular season. The biggest Sox-related thing on the radio is whether or not they should re-sign Beckett. Very little about the season starting in six days.

    • bexarama

      I think this is because people think the Sox offense is gonna be like the Mariners’ or the Giants’ when it’s much, much better than that.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        The Mariners will be an interesting case this season. They’re really going all defense/pitching, which could bite them in the ass; that offense is still pretty “meh” outside of Ichiro. Boston’s offense will still (likely) be top 5 in the game and they have improved defense.

        • bexarama

          Yep. They have two really good leadoff guys and then beyond that… eek (unless you’re my mom and you think it’s 1997 and Ken Griffey Jr. is still a “great” cleanup hitter.). Maybe Bradley has a bit of a bounceback year.

          I would feel better for the Mariners’ chances if their pitching wasn’t so top-heavy. It’s a long way down from Felix and Lee to their #3 starter.

          • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

            I think Bradley will be fine and I think we can expect some improvement from Gutierrez, but Kotchman’s nothing special and Jose Lopez just makes too many outs to be real productive.

            Maybe we all drank the Kool-Aid a little too much early on, but I think they can still easily compete with the Angels.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              I’m picking the Rangers. This is the year they break through.

              • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                You think the pitching comes together? If Harden stays healthy, that’ll go a long way.

                How many wins do you think it takes to win each division?

                I’ll say 93-96 for the East, 88-91 for the Central and West, maybe a few fewer wins for the West.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  Sounds right.

              • bexarama

                Me too!!! (high five)

                Matt, in response to what you said – 90-93ish wins wins the West, low 90s or high 80s wins the Central, high 90s wins the East.

              • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

                Tommie, do you think they have the pitching?

                I thought last year was gonna be their year, but…

                I’ve always felt, not that it’s any great revelation, that Texas would be scary if they got even league-average pitching.

                Although now their hitting is not what it was, with Tex gone, and a few others (Blalock, etc.) finally performing down to their true abilities.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  Well, Feldman is solid; they’re getting Matt Harrison back, who may be their best young pitcher not named Feliz or Perez; and Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, C.J. Wilson, Dustin Nippert, and Brandon McCarthy are all solid arms too.

                  Plus, I still like Derek Holland and think he gets some run this year.

                  I bet three of the Harden-Feldman-Harrison-Lewis-Hunter-Wilson group pitch very well, and maybe they supplement that with a midseason pickup. They have enough depth at catcher and IF to make a trade for a pitcher without losing much (i.e., Max Ramirez and Chris Davis are surplus parts that could be used to pick up a Jason Marquis-level starter).

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

                  Have they decided on Feliz yet, or are they gonna Joba him? Because putting him in the rotation would go a long way toward raising my expectations for them (obviously).

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  I think he’s getting Joba’d.

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

                  Ugh.

                  Well, at least we’re not the only ones. You’d think Nolan Ryan would talk them out of that, though.

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

          Mmm. But who really stands out in that division? Every team has significant question marks.

          Agree that were the Mariners to make the playoffs, they would have trouble winning the games Felix and Cliff don’t pitch.

          • bexarama

            Yeah, it’s gone from being a division where one team is absolutely dominant and the other teams don’t really have a chance to a pretty wide-open division, though I can’t see Oakland winning it. I think I’d be less surprised than others if the Angels still won, though. I’m still picking Texas. Yee-haw.

            • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

              I picked Oakland to win the division last year. Woops.

              • bexarama

                No worries, I thought the Cubs were going to the World Series

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                Heh.

                I didn’t pick them to win it, IIRC, but I did pick them to hang around all year and be buyers instead of sellers. I had Holliday in Oaktown all year in my prediction.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        Yup, all of the mouth breathers on the radio don’t get it. It’s all about losing Jason Bay’s RBI’s. And they think his defense “wasn’t bad.” I, as a Yankee fan, think the Sox had a great offseason. The Sox fans don’t.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          Well, we’re clearly more intelligent than they are.

          /looking down nose’d

          With whom would you rather discuss baseball: a Phillies fan or a Sox fan?

          • bexarama

            Phillies, they are just kind of delusional about the quality of some players on their team (Rollins……) and they don’t live to see the Yankees lose

            • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

              I think they do now, after the WS. My GF lives in Phillies’ territory and they definitely hate the Yankees down there.

              • bexarama

                kinda, but I have a few Philly fan friends (one really good one) and they don’t seem to hate the Yankees any more since the WS. If anything, they almost sort of RESPECT the Yankees now, because as delusional as they are about saying, like, Howard > Pujols, they recognize they got beat fair and square in the WS.

                SSS alert though. ;)

                • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                  Hm, fair enough. I was in a Target down there, wearing a Yankees’ shirt post-WS and got a Yankees suck comment thrown my way. I said, “What was that? I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over my team winning the World Series.”

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

                  Heh. I’m stealing that one, if you don’t mind! :-)

                • bexarama

                  stealing what? But no I do not mind :)

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

                  That was meant for Matt. Don’t know why it didn’t post under his comment– perhaps the comments here have nested to their maximum already?

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                “My GF lives in Phillies’ territory and they definitely hate the Yankees life down there.”

                Fixed.

                • Rick in Boston

                  Yeah, my wife’s from Philly, they really do hate life. Hence why she’s making me still live in Boston and therefore hate my life, too.

          • Jerry

            I’d rather get poked in the eye with a rusty nail.

            • bexarama

              this is also a pretty good option

        • Mike Pop

          I had a Sox fan tell me Cameron was a bad pickup because he ‘only plays when he wants too’ the other day.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            “he only plays when he wants to” = He’s black.

            Sincerely,
            Euphemistic Sox Fans

            • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

              You’re older than I am so maybe your memory about these things is better, but I can’t think of a single white player who has that label.

              • rbizzler

                JD Drew says ‘hello.’

          • bexarama

            wtf does that even mean

            (other than that he’s a black guy, thank you tsjc)

  • CountryClub

    The Sox will be good this yr; probably the 2nd best team in the AL. But for the 1st time in a few years, I think the Yanks are better then them in most phases. I like the Yanks starters more, I like their pen more and I like their O more. I guess the Sox have them on D, but it won’t make up for the rest.

    • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

      And the Yankees defense is nothing to laugh at. They are looking to improve that with the departure of Damon and having a healthier A-Rod.

      They also upgraded their pitching. Last year the Yanks lost their number 2 starter for the whole year in Wang. Now with Javy if they are all healthy they will have a better rotation.

      The offense is about the same but probably a bit younger.

      Only thing I’m mad about is the 5th starter and Joba’s future but meh it won’t affect the team drastically.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

    With Big Sloppy on the decline and Mike Lowell not too far behind him, I wonder if Lars Anderson or Anthony Rizzo will be DH’ing with the big club by August.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      I think they’ll be real cautious w/Anderson this year and won’t promote him too rapidly unless he seriously destroys shit.

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

        ::smirk::

        Considering the only thing he’s seriously destroyed so far is his own ridiculously over-hyped reputation!

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno
          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

            Thanks, I’ll be here all week.

            Don’t forget to try the waitresses, and tip the salad.

            /Tiger’d
            /repeated-’cause-it-was-too-good-not-to’d

    • bexarama

      I’m pretty sure Ortiz stays their DH until his contract expires. It’s after this year, right? Oh man I cannot wait for the epic smear job when he leaves. It’s gonna be gooooood.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        The one for Papelbon will be pretty nuts, too.

        • bexarama

          the Papelbon one kind of already started, plus nobody likes Papelbon anyway other than some Sox fans who were crowing about how he never blew a save in the postseason (except… he actually did in 2008) and was therefore better than Rivera. I do, however, remember toward the beginning of 2009 (before the season and Ortiz’s struggles) all these articles about how Ortiz was just so beloved by everyone in baseball and how he was a model of how to play the game and blah blah blah

          • bexarama

            wow that comment doesn’t really make any sense, ignore it

            But basically it’s gonna be an epic sh-tshow when Papelbon and ESPECIALLY Ortiz leave and it will be beautiful

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

              That comment actually did make sense to me, even if it was a bit run-on.

              I’ll be laughing maniacally at the Papelbon smear; with Ortiz, I don’t actually hate the guy like I used to, I’m just angry that none of the holier-than-thou-when-A-Rod-admitted-to-steroids-commenters said anything at all when Big Pop-up got caught.

              It makes me furious how Pop-up got a free ride, after everyone raked A-Rod over the coals. Equal treatment, anyone? Helloo…

              And I’m still waiting for him to announce that he’s finally caught Nicole Simpson’s REAL killer.

              • bexarama

                I actually liked Ortiz a lot more when he used to absolutely murder us, because he did seem like a nice guy.The way he acted when his name was revealed on that list, combined with everything he’d said about steroid users in the past, basically made me really, really dislike him.

                though it did lead to one of my favorite comments on here, ever:
                http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....ent-502921
                I have that bookmarked. WHY IS IT SO FUNNY??!?!?!

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

                  And yet…

                  not so funny…

                  as a single word…

                  “drfat”

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        It might be the best thing about next offseason.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          You mean aside from trophy #28?

          ;)

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          David Ortiz stabbed a guy.

          Sincerely,
          Theo Epstein, December 2010

          • bexarama

            ietc

            is it wrong to want to punch Theo Epstein in the face? Like it’s my #2 baseball fantasy, more or less, after the Yankees winning every WS from here to eternity.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              Going out on a limb here, #1 involves Pettitte?

              • bexarama

                Nope, #1 is the Yankees winning from here to eternity. Various Pettitte-related things are in the mix for #2.

          • rbizzler

            …with a needle full of steroids. And that man was Manny Ramirez.

            I have been killing it all day. Too funny.

      • thurdonpaul

        I could be way wrong, but I think pappi will get a break and not be torn apart when he is done. For a long time he was adored by the fans and media there. If they do rip him apart then that proves what morons they are up there.

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

          I wonder if they’ll be able to talk him into retiring before they have to smear-then-dump him.

  • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

    I think the Sox will be good. I do think injuries will be their downfall. Also they have money locked into Ortiz and I watched him hit the other day and couldn’t get around on a 89 mph fastball at his letters that was inside.

  • Joe D.

    I agree, I feel like the Red Sox are being underestimated.

    They are, after all, a very good team…

    …for me to poop on!

    • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

      /Triumph’d

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      I laughed.

      I actually saw an older version of myself making that Triumph joke earlier today while searching for the birth of the B-Jobber name.

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

        Was it anOlder version of you– or a younger version?

        Is the cat alive if you haven’t opened the box?

        /Schrodinger’s Cat’d
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....er%27s_cat

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          Heh. Touché.

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

            :-)

            and… space FAIL. Grrr.

  • pat

    Tazawa going to visit Dr. Andrews. Uh oh.

    • Rick in Boston

      All sorts of this. They need Tazawa for depth, especially given the fact that:

      -Wakefield is older than Al Davis
      -Buchholz is still not a sure thing
      -Dice-BB is a big question mark in both performance and health

      Losing Tazawa means that they’ll be dipping into their version of Jason Hirsh territory.

      • CS Yankee

        Don’t bash on Hirsh, he’s a good dude and signed a baseball for my son at a Rox game a few years back.

        He was the upcomer in Houston but they had “rose color glasses” for Jason Jennings and traded him to the Rox. He has had health issues but is IPK-like in upside…he could be a most teams 6th starter today, 5th if your the Nat’s, Met’s, Pirates or Royals.

  • RustyJohn

    It sucks that the Sox signed my favorite non-Yankee player. To have to watch Adrian Beltre in a Sox uniform…and doing this on a nightly basis…a sin.

    http://realbostonsportsfans.co.....ights.html

  • mryankee

    Beltre and Cameron will hit better at Fenway. Those guys both suck and Ellsbury is way overrated. One thing Boston does better than anybody is over hype their prospects I will give them that. BTW Drew is the glass Joe of MLB.