Tag Archives: AL East

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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Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon Sign with Rays?

Manny Ramirez Rays

I say……good for them! I don’t like this move because it obviously makes the Rays much more competitive than they would be without these guys. That’s a very solid lead-off hitter and an all-time great clean-up hitter. Sure, they are old, but I don’t want to hear it. Both of these guys are great players and have plenty left in the tank, although Manny is also an all-star head case. It’s good to see that the Rays aren’t simply dumping all of their players and are making moves to remain competitive in the AL East.

Both players signed one year deals, Damon for $5.25 mil plus incentives and Manny for $2 mil. In my book, both of those deals are straight up bargains. You can’t tell me that signing Manny Ramirez to the Red Sox for $2 mil wouldn’t have been a great move. Well played, Rays.

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Dustin Pedroia Versus Robinson Cano

Dustin Pedroia Versus Robinson Cano

Last week we briefly got into a little spat over the question of who is the better second baseman: Boston’s Dustin Pedroia or New York’s Robinson Cano. After our previous looks at David Ortiz versus Alex RodriguezTom Brady versus Derek Jeter, Tom Brady versus Peyton ManningMichael Jordan. versus Kobe Bryant, and Luke Harangody versus Shelden Williams, I couldn’t resist. So here it is….

I’ll start by saying this: Robinson Cano was a rookie in 2005, whereas Pedroia was a rookie in 2007 (Can0 is 28, Pedroia is 27). Given his past two seasons, you’ve got to give the edge to Cano. That said, for comparison’s sake, I think it’s much more fair to compare the first 4 seasons of each player’s career. Cano’s numbers popped in his 5th season, and Pedroia’s were beginning to pop last year until he was sidelined with an injury. A look at the first 4 years of each players career might be enlightening in telling how good each of these players could end up being.

Dustin Pedroia (2007-2010) – .307 AVG, 16 HR, 76 RBI, .374 OBP

Robinson Cano (2005-2008) – .304 AVG, 17 HR, 87 RBI, .336 OBP

Those numbers are adjusted 162 game averages for sake of comparison, and needless to say they are pretty damn similar. Let’s look at other accolades earned during that time:

Dustin Pedroia (2007-2010) – 2007 World Series Champion, 2007 Rookie of the Year, 2008 All-Star, 2008 AL MVP, 2008 Golden Glove, 2008 Silver Slugger, 2008 League Leader in runs (118), hits (213), & doubles (54), 2009 All-Star, 2009 League Leader in runs (115), 2010 All-Star

Robinson Cano (2005-2008) – 2006 All-Star, 2006 Silver Slugger

Pedroia clearly wins in this department by a landslide. Why is this, given their similar statistics? A great question. The common sentiment seems to be that Pedroia’s play had a bigger impact on his team. He certainly has displayed more leadership early in his career than Cano has. That said, he’s going to have a tough time keeping up with Cano in terms of power numbers, although he was off to a great start least year. Regardless of who you prefer, these are probably the two best second baseman in baseball. This will be an interesting rivalry to watch develop, that’s for sure.

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Carl Crawford To Boston? You Kiddin’ Me?

Carl Crawford

Theo Epstein made a statement yesterday, saying loud and clear — “We’re here to win in 2011.” You gotta give it to the guy, every time I start to question him he answers. You also got to love his sneakiness, stating after signing Gonzalez that his focus was now on the bullpen. He made moves in a major way, and he made them early. Gotta love it. After signing Crawford to a 7-year $142 million deal, the Red Sox have the best team in the Bigs. Here’s a look at my new proposed line-up for the Sox.

1) Carl Crawford, L, LF

2) Dustin Pedroia, R, 2B

3) David Ortiz, L, DH

4) Kevin Youkilis, R, 3B

5) Adian Gonzalez, L, 1B

6) JD Drew, L, RF

7) Marco Scutaro, SS, R

8)Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, S

9) Jacoby Ellsbury, L, CF

Yes, that is going to be 6 left-handed hitters if need be. This line-up has it all in my opinion, minus a good catcher (which is the second most important position in baseball). That said we’ve got a gold glove infield, an incredibly fast outfield, power, and two of the best on the base paths in the league. Coupled with our starting pitching and a bullpen that Theo is trying to add to — watch out.

Now now now. Shut up for a moment Yankees fans. I’ve already started to hear it. “The Red Sox sold out, the Red Sox are the Yankees.” Frankly, New Yorkers, you’re just making yourself look pathetic by saying these things. Your showing us Boston people that our comments get to you. Because if you sit back and look at the numbers, well, how about we do that?

Players making over $30 million in 2011 — Yankees 1 (A-Rod), Red Sox 0

Players making over $20 million in 2011 — Yankees 3 (CC, A-Rod, Tex), Sox 0 (Crawford may, but his contract likely increases by year)

Players making over $15 million in 2011 — Yankees 6 (AJ, Mo, CC, Jeter, A-Rod, Tex), Red Sox 2 (Lackey, Crawford)

As far as signing players to long-term, big deals I gave the Yankees hell for signing AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Mark Texiera in the same offseason to the tune of $441 million. The Red Sox have really only signed Crawford, although it does seem very likely they will give Adrian Gonzalez a contract extension early in the season. Even if they pay his 150+ million over many seasons, that brings Crawford and Gonzalez’s signings to about 2/3 of the Yankees spending that off-season.  Which seems about right. Boston’s payroll will be less than the Yankees, significantly, as it always is.

Oh, and that’s not to mention the deal the Yankees will likely sign Cliff Lee too. That makes those numbers look even worse. Frankly, they have no option other than to get him now — they’ll need another lefty arm to pitch the Red Sox lefty-happy line-up.

Bring on the spring.

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Yo Adrian (Gonzalez)! Welcome to Boston

Adrian Gonzalez Boston Red Sox

Theo Epstein has made me very happy, as the Red Sox have a 11:00am press conference today to officially announce that they have traded for San Diego Padres’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. This move is the single move I most wanted the Red Sox to fulfill this offseason, as they have been targeting Gonzalez for some time. Although Gonzalez has yet to sign a long-term deal, the Red Sox have offered him 6 years for $120 million. He is reportedly looking for 8 years, paying about $23-$25 million per season, and according to several sources it looks probable that he will eventually sign for a 7 year deal at $22 million per season. Simply put, Adrian Gonzalez is our new Mark Texiera.

I like this deal for many reasons — Gonzalez is young (29), a Gold Glove winning defensive player, and a perennial 30 home run 100 RBI hitter. Although his career batting average is .284, his on base percentage numbers are excellent — he had a .396 OBP last season. Perhaps most overlooked is the fact that Gonzalez posted these numbers in an extremely hitter-unfriendly ballpark with no protection in the Padres’ lineup — as a left-handed hitter his power numbers will likely pop in Fenway Park. This move also sures up a fantastic infield defense, specifically at the corners with Kevin Youkilis’ move to third base.

So what’s the bad news? He’s going to require a big money, long-term deal. If he’s able to agree to such a deal, the Red Sox will then have a core of Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia signed for several seasons — which is great. However, Jason Werth’s signing with the Washington Nationals for 7 seasons at $126 million really hurts the Red Sox’s chances of landing Carl Crawford, who is represented by Scott Boras and is younger than Werth. He’s likely out of reach financially for the Sox now, although if we did manage to sign him it would an unbeleivable lineup.  All of that said, the real reason to be excited is a look towards my proposed opening day lineup for the Sox — they still need to add some depth, but this lineup is undeniably good.

1) Jacoby Ellsbury (L)

2) Dustin Pedroia (R)

3) David Ortiz (L)

4) Kevin Youkilis (R)

5) Adrian Gonzalez (L)

6) JD Drew (L)

7) Ryan Kallish (L)

8)Jason Varitek or Jarrod Saltalamacchia (R) or (R)

9) Marco Scutaro (R)

Starting Pitcher: John Lester

That’s a huge reason to get excited, although I still think we need one more significant bat (yes, Crawford would be perfect). Regardless, it’s great to see the Red Sox take such a huge step in the right direction.

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David Ortiz Versus A-Rod…..I’m Just Sayin’

David Ortiz versus Alex Rodriguez

When I first started writing this blog, one of the first ideas that came to me was writing an offensive comparison of David Ortiz versus Alex Rodriguez. That post, which showed Ortiz’s versus A-Rod’s stats since 2004, struck a chord with Red Sox and Yankees fans alike. The numbers pretty much were a push, and I argued that given Ortiz’s postseason prowess, he should be declared the better offensive threat during that period. Yankees fans, unable to listen to reason, fought back. “We’ll see how Ortiz does once he’s off of steroids, I bet he’ll suck,” was the general sentiment. And Yankees fans chuckled after Ortiz had an absolutely abysmal start to the 2010 season. I could hear the “I told you so’s” echoing in my ears. Be patient, I told them. And here we have both Ortiz’s and A-Rod’s stats for 2010. The number of at bats they each had was nearly identical.

David Ortiz — .270 AVG, 32 HR, 102 RBI, 141 hits

A-Rod — .270 AVG, 30 HR, 125 RBI, 140 hits

Those numbers, once again, look frightening similar to me. Now I will certainly give A-Rod the edge, as 23 RBI’s is a significant difference. But you do have to factor in that A-Rod had people on base in front of him much more often than Papi did. Papi consistently had Marco Scutaro and a rotation of other scrubs hitting in front of him. That’s not an excuse, it’s a reality. Regardless, these two had very similar seasons at the plate. Ortiz was just fine “without his steroids.” Ironically, there is no more proof of Ortiz using steroids than there is of anyone who was making these statements using steroids, but that’s another issue and a bridge we’ve crossed all too often. Here’s an updated look at Ortiz and A-Rod’s stats, since 2004.

HR                     RBI                         AVG

David Ortiz                         260                     831                         .286

Alex Rodriguez                268                     841                          .296

Take it for what it is — Alex Rodriguez averages 1.1 more home runs and 1.4 RBI’s more than David Ortiz per season. Whose ears are echoing with “I told you so” now?

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Yankees “Fans” — Shame on You

Yankees Empty Seats Baseball

Empty seats with the AL East crown on the line?

Shame on you, Yankees “fans.” Let’s start by making one thing clear — this is not a boo-hoo post, I long ago declared the Red Sox done for the year. Although I don’t like it, I’ve come to terms with the reality of the situation. A baseball fan at heart, I was still excited to watch the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays battle it out last night. And battle it out they did — this was a great game until it got blown open at the end and the Rays won 7-2. Sure, there was a long rain delay. But the division is on the line people — act accordingly.

Now I know from experience how much Yankees fans hate to hear from Bostonians how the Red Sox have the best fans in baseball and the Yankees are a bunch of snotty front-runner wannabe fans. Well, you did a pretty good job of backing up Boston fans’ sentiments last night, and even your own players are noticing. “To me, it was a totally different feel,” Yankees slugger Lance Berkman said. “The crowd was gone, the electricity that was there the first two games was gone.” Way to help out your team, New York.

The stadium at the beginning of this game was about 46,000 fans deep — only 90% of the stadium’s capacity to begin with, which is shocking. After the rain delay, about half of that number remained, and watching on TV the last few innings the stands looked bare — despite the game being knotted at 2-1. I understand that there was a rain delay, and it was a Wednesday night, but I thought that New York was the city that never sleeps — this game ended at 12:30am people. Furthermore, I know that Fenway park is tiny and can only handle about 35,000 fans. This excuse doesn’t work either. The New York metropolitan population is 19 million people, whereas the Boston metropolitan are is home to 4.5 million people.

This would never happen in Boston — I can very comfortably say that — not during a heated divisional race when you are playing against the team right on your heals. New Yorkers should be ashamed — don’t try to tell me how great your fans are any longer. What’s your excuse this time? How can you possibly defend this? C.C. Sabathia is going against David Price tonight in a rematch of the pitching gem these two put on this September 13th. I’ll be watching, but will anyone in New York?

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