2011 Boston Red Sox Predictions

2011 Boston Red Sox

With Major League Baseball’s opening day looming just two weeks away (March 31), it’s time for my 2011 Boston Red Sox predictions. Following an offseason highlighted by the signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, I think that NESN has said it best with their slogan for the Sox 2011 campaign — “We’re all in.”

The Offense — Contrary to popular belief, the Red Sox had plenty of offense last year — they finished second in MLB in runs and slugging percentage. This year’s offense is that much more dynamic — Carl Crawford essentially gives us a second Jacoby Ellsbury on the base paths, in the body of a much better hitter. A left-handed Adrian Gonzalez should bring Fenway’s right field fence to its knees, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are just hitting the stride of their primes, and David Ortiz is  coming off a good season. There will not be a more fun offense to watch in baseball, with the Sox combination of speed and power.

The Pitching — Critics like to poke holes in the Red Sox pitching staff. I look at it like this — John Lester has been just about as good as anybody the last few seasons. Clay Bucholz has finally lived up to his potential, following a 17-7 season with a 2.33 ERA. And my Red Sox pleasant surprise of the year is going to be John Lackey — I’m expecting a big season out of him. Clearly frustrated with his performance last year, Lackey arrived at camp 15 pounds lighter and ready to roll. I’d look for 16-10 or so out of him this year. That leaves us with the Red Sox perennial question marks — Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett. These guys both have fierce stuff, but get lit up more than your average patron at a Grateful Dead concert. Who knows what to expect out of these guys — if either of them give us a season substantially over .500 we can consider it a bonus. As for the pen, Papelbon is obviously a bit of a question mark. No pitcher has ever saved 35+ games in a season to more criticism. The likes of Daniel Bard and newcomer Bobby Jenks should help sure up the closing roll.

The Question Marks — The Sox have 3 questions marks in my eyes. The first is middle relief, where the Sox did do some substantial offseason work. That said, I’m not as sure of the bullpen as the rest of Boston seems to be. I am always leery of relievers — a few closers aside they are usually just pitchers not good enough to be starters. I’m not predicting anything terrible here, I’m just not quite sure who is going to emerge as the backbone of the middle relief crew.

The second question mark I see is the shortstop position, which I consider to be the 3rd most important position on the field. I’m not buying into Jed Lowrie, and I never bought into Marco Scutaro. I was a big Nick Green fan myself and saw big things for him. Even so, every team has to have a weakness somewhere and I don’t think this is a big deal.

The biggest question mark in my eyes, by far, is at the catcher position. Jason Varitek is valuable in his leadership and the experience he brings working with the pitching staff, but he’s a glaring weakness in all other ways and likely won’t be able to play too many games. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is young, unproven, and inexperienced — not what you’re looking for in the catcher of a World Series contender. I think that the Sox will miss Victor Martinez much more than any player that they lost — Adrian Beltre included.

2011 Season Prediction – I’m not going out on a limb here at all, but I think the Red Sox will meet the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. While the Phillies’ starters are undoubtedly superior, I think that the Red Sox offense will be dynamic enough to score the runs needed to beat a lackluster Phillies offense. I hereby predict that the Red Sox will win the 2011 World Series — and don’t call me a homer — I predicted that the Yankees would win the last two seasons.

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “2011 Boston Red Sox Predictions

  1. Solid analysis. I hope your prediction is right on target. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are gonna be fun to watch. I’m not worried about shortstop. It won’t be a strength, but between them Scutaro and Lowrie can get it done. And I think the relief pitching is shored up. Wheeler and Jenks were great additions. I worry that Ortiz will collapse. Too fat. Too old. And .. this just in … WE NEED A CATCHER

    Prediction: 105 wins, AL East Champs, AL Champs .. Lose WS 4 games – 2 to Phillies .. good pitching beats good hitting

    • I’m more sold on Jenks than Wheeler, but we shall see. I’m not worried about Ortiz at all — the guy gets way to much unfair criticism. Look at the numbers he’s put up. Nuff said. 105 wins would be fantastic, but God that’s a horrible end to a great season you are predicting. I just don’t think the Phillies will be able to score enough runs, although they won’t need many.

      • j-bone

        105 is alot of wins. How many games do you have each pitcher winning to get ot that total?

      • I agree that 105 is a bit high. I’d expect (like) them to be more in the 97-98 win range. 105 wins might take a 24-2 season from Tim Wakefield.

    • Williams

      1. tell me one team in MLB that doesn’t have question marks surrounding their middle relief. The definition of middle relief is question mark… otherwise they would be setting up or closing.

      2. The SS is not a huge issue. This is a, wait for it, bridge year to Jose Iglesias so if you think we are getting a major upgrade there forget about it.

      3. The catching situation doesn’t worry me all that much. We have been spoiled for the past decade or so as Red Sox fans, but Salty+Varitek against lefties will be at the very least league average offensively. Will they be great defensively? No, but VMart was horrible. We will at least be better there.

      4. The Phillies are good, but lets keep apprised of the Utley situation. As you know, the greasiest man in Philly is the heart and soul of the Phils and if he’s lost for the season (as some are already speculating he is) then you can forget about the Phils in the World Series.

      The best team right now in the NL is the Brewers. They are stacked. They dont have the name fare the Phillies do but their rotation could be jsut as good and a hell of a lot younger.

      Gallardo
      Marcum
      Greinke

      Not to mention Braun, Fielder, McGehee, and Corey Hart.

      In the AL yeah the Sox are, on paper the best as of right now. Yankees have little pitching depth, however their pitching is good and the hitting well we know the quality of player they have and the bandbox they play in.

      As for a good AL team no one is talking about: The White Sox.

      Their lineup is stacked – ADunn, Paul Konerko, Alexie Ramirez, Rios, Beckham, Quentin (if he gets back to form)… and the pitching is good to with Buerhle, Floyd, Peavy, EJackson.

      • A. Rab Money

        teck is not going to take lightly to that fourth comment. I also think you are clinically insane for thinking those 3 guys on the brewers even come close to the top 3, not to mention 4, of the phils. Just see the credentials of the starters on the phils against those guys. But we all already knew you were insane after you slept on half a foam pad on the floor of baby changing room for an entire year.

      • I don’t think you’re really surprising anyone with your assessment of the Brewers and the White Sox. I agree completely on the SS situation and in regards to Ryan Kalish — I think he’s going to emerge as a very good player. I could not disagree more on the catcher situation, and I do think your a bit crazy comparing the Brewers staff to the Phils. K’s per 9 innings? Really?

  2. j-bone

    It would take 24 by wakefield, and 20 plus from Lester and Clay.

  3. Williams

    Oh yeah, and for Red Sox fans.. Look for the emergence of Ryan Kalish as he will be taking over for JD Drew next year in right field.

  4. Williams

    1.Halladay (career line) – 3.32/1.18/6.7(kp9)

    1.Greinke 3.82/1.24/7.5

    2.Cliff Lee – 3.85/1.26/6.9

    2. Yovani Gallardo – 3.67/1.32/9.3

    3. Hamels – 3.5/1.18/8.5

    3. Shaun Marcum – 3.85/1.24/7.3

    Yeah they arent c0mparable at all…. oh wait they are.

  5. Kevin Youkillis

    last year in best pitching ranking order…
    halladay..(5) 2.44
    oswalt…(8) 2.76
    hamels. (17) 3.06
    lee…(21) 3.18

    Grienke, Gallardo, not in the top forty..
    marcum. no. 40. 3.64

    you are a clown

  6. 105 wins is way high, but predictions are only fun if they’re substantially higher or lower than expectations .. Last I saw Vegas over/under for Sox wins was 95 .. Next best in AL was Yankees at 92

    2010 starts / wins
    Lester .. 32 starts .. 19 wins
    Buchholz .. 28 starts .. 17 wins
    Lackey .. 33 starts .. 14 wins
    Matsusaka .. 25 starts .. 9 wins
    Beckett .. 21 starts .. 6 wins
    Wakefield .. 19 starts .. 4 wins
    Relievers 4 starts .. 20 wins

    In 2010 the Sox had injuries to key players (Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis), their relief pitching wasn’t as good as expected, and Beckett sucked. Hopefully all 3 of those things will be better this year. I also expect the additions of Gonzalez and Crawford to make up for the losses of Beltre and Martinez.

    2011 .. 105 wins
    Lester .. 18 wins
    Buchholz .. 18 wins
    Lackey .. 16 wins
    Beckett .. 16 wins
    Matsusaka .. 12 wins
    Wakefield/Emergency Starter .. 5 wins
    Relievers .. 20 wins

    I guess everything would have to go just right.

  7. j-bone

    On paper possible, but if those pitchers are gonna have those types of years the bullpen would have to be nearly flawless. And do you have confidence in that?

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