30 Clubs in 30 Days: Boston Red Sox

Posted: February 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

redsox

For the second consecutive year, 30 Clubs in 30 Days returns to SkoodSports. Over the next month or so, we will be previewing one Major League Baseball team per day.

The snow outside may suggest otherwise. But, the 2014 season is nearly upon us. Players, coaches, and fans are on their way to sunny Florida or Arizona for the beginning of spring training this week. We could think of no better way to kick off the 2014 edition of our team previews with the defending world champion, Boston Red Sox. In 2013, Boston did what every team dreams of doing; the Red Sox went from worst to first to win their third championship in ten years. After nearly a century of dismay, Boston is Titletown, USA once again.

For the Red Sox, who won 97 games behind a clutch and powerful offense, 2013 was a dream campaign. Nearly everything went right; from Stephen Drew staying healthy to Daniel Nava developing into an All Star caliber offensive force, the Red Sox found themselves on top of the American League East nearly the entire season. Can they do it again? One thing is for certain. The 2014 Red Sox won’t catch anyone by surprise. The defending champions are now the hunted, and 29 other teams will aim to knock them off their perch this summer.

While the Red Sox are defending champions, it’s not as though they return the entirety of their championship cast. Gone are Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.273-14-65), Jacoby Ellsbury (.298-9-53), and, as of press time, Drew (.253-13-67). Replacing those three fixtures in last season’s squad are veteran A.J. Pierzynski, and youngsters Jackie Bradley Jr, and Xander Bogaerts. The latter got valuable playing 2908time in the postseason, where he thrived and showed tremendous defense and patience in the batter’s box. Bradley, 24, won the team’s left fielder job out of spring training last year before losing it and being sent down to Pawtucket following a tough start at the dish. His success, coupled with whether or not Nava can mimic his 2013 numbers, will go a long way towards keeping the Boston offense at the top of the A.L.

Luminaries David Ortiz (.309-30-103), Dustin Pedroia (.301-9-84), and Mike Napoli (.259-23-92) return following their championship run. For Ortiz, it was his third title as a member of the team; a run that will likely see the big man immortalized by a statue outside Fenway Park once his career comes to an end. If this trio can stay healthy and Boston gets adequate production from their role players, the Red Sox should score over 800 runs again.

The real strength of the Red Sox is their pitching. LHP Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75) is a free agent this winter, so expect a strong campaign as he heads to the open market. Veteran John Lackey (10-13, 3.52), once considered one of the worst signings in baseball, enjoyed a renaissance year. His success, coupled with the health of Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74), will be critical if the Red Sox hope to repeat as division champs. In the bullpen, Koji Uehara will be expected to continue the dominance that he exhibited in the second half of last season, when the Japanese righthander helped lead the Sox all the way through the postseason.

Five Year Review

2013: 97-65
Won World Series vs. Cardinals, 4-2
2012: 
69-93
2011: 90-72
2010: 89-73
2009: 95-67
Lost ALDS vs. Angels, 3-0

Key Acquisitions

C A.J. Pierzynski (Texas Rangers)
INF Jonathan Herrera (Colorado Rockies)
OF Grady Sizemore (DNP in 2013)
RHP Edward Mujica (St. Louis Cardinals)
RHP Burke Badenhop (Milwaukee Brewers)

Key Departures

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Miami Marlins)
SS Stephen Drew (unsigned)
CF Jacoby Ellsbury (New York Yankees)
RHP Andrew Bailey (unsigned)
RHP Joel Hanrahan (unsigned)

Lineup and Rotation w/ Projected Stats

OF Shane Victorino – .285-13-59
OF Daniel Nava – .277-9-48
2B Dustin Pedroia – .297-11-74
DH David Ortiz – .293-23-85
1B Mike Napoli – .253-22-71
SS Xander Bogaerts – .266-15-64
C AJ Pierzynski – .273-11-46
3B Will Middlebrooks – .262-23-71
OF Jackie Bradley – .254-8-37

LHP Jon Lester – 12-9, 3.83
RHP Clay Buchholz – 10-8, 3.73
RHP John Lackey – 10-8, 3.89
RHP Jake Peavy – 9-8, 3.84
LHP Felix Doubront – 8-6, 4.15

RHP Koji Uehara – 4-2, 33, 2.10

2014 Outlook

It’s never easy to repeat as champions. This is especially evident in baseball, where the long season makes merely reaching the playoffs a daunting task. Still, Boston returns much of the same cast that won them the whole thing a year ago. Boston’s rotation depth will allow them to cycle Ryan Dempster or Felix Doubront into the fifth spot and their offense should be just as good as last year’s even without Ellsbury and Salty.

One cause for concern among Red Sox fans has to be a return to normalcy for players who had career years in 2013. Nava, Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp, and Uehara all far outproduced their expectations during Boston’s run to the title. Those expectations are now raised significantly. If those four can play at the same level as they did last year, and Boston can avoid any crippling injuries to their stars, the Red Sox should find themselves at the top of the division again. If they revert back to their pre-2013 form, or bumps and bruises consume the seasons of guys like Ortiz and Pedroia, the Red Sox could find themselves in third place.

In the end, Boston will have a difficult time trying to mimic their success from 2013. The loss of Ellsbury coupled with no real replacement for their leadoff hitter will hurt Boston more than they think. I foresee the Red Sox capturing between 86-92 games, while battling it out for the AL Wild Card.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s