Boston Red Sox 2012 PreviewPosted: February 9, 2012
Projected Record: 92-70
|C||Jarrod Saltalamacchia||1.4||SP1||Jon Lester||4.5|
|1B||Adrian Gonzalez||6.2||SP2||Josh Beckett||3.5|
|2B||Dustin Pedroia||6||SP3||Clay Bucholz||2.4|
|SS||Nick Punto||1.4||SP4||Daniel Bard||2|
|3B||Kevin Youkilis||3.4||SP5||Aaron Cook||0.5|
|LF||Carl Crawford||4.2||CP||Andrew Bailey||1.5|
|CF||Jacoby Ellsbury||6.2||RP||Alfredo Aceves||1.1|
|RF||Cody Ross||1.6||RP||Mark Melancon||1|
|DH||David Ortiz||2.7||RP||Bobby Jenks||0.4|
|Bench||Kelly Shoppach||0.8||RP||Matt Albers||0.3|
|Bench||Mike Aviles||0.8||RP||Franklin Morales||0|
|Bench||Darnell McDonald||0.1||RP||Michael Bowden||0|
|Bench||Ryan Sweeney||1.1||Vicente Padilla||0.7|
|Bench||Jose Iglesias||0.1||Andrew Miller||0.3|
|Ryan Lavarnway||0.5||Daisuke Matsuzaka||0.3|
The Red Sox made some interesting moves this offseason, although I don’t know if you can say that they’re a better team than they were last season. The starting lineup is the same, save for SS and RF. At short, a Nick Punto/Mike Aviles platoon replaces Marco Scutaro, who was traded in a salary dump to the Rockies. Punto probably gets the majority of the at bats, and he was above average in limited time with the Cardinals last year, but those numbers were well above his career averages. Potentially Jose Iglesias could see time at short as well, but his hitting in the minors has failed to impress. The other change is replacing JD Drew/Josh Reddick in RF with a rotating cast of Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross or perhaps Ryan Kalish when he returns from injury. Ross and Sweeney probably platoon at the beginning of the season, but there are some consistency problems with Ross, and Sweeney’s power is well below average for a corner outfielder. I still project the Red Sox to have the best starting 9 in the division however, as they still have 3 players who I project to be worth at least 6 wins in Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia.
Ellsbury likely won’t repeat his MVP-worthy 2011 season, but he’s still a great player. Saltalamacchia’s back behind the plate, although I project a bit of a fall in his performance this year as well. Shoppach was brought in to back him up, and he’s shown to be quite capable in that role. Youkilis’s recurring injury woes potentially limit his effectiveness at third, and I’m not sure they have a very good option to replace him other than Aviles if he goes down for an extended period. That brings us to Crawford, who can only improve on his less-than-stellar first season with Boston. I project him for 4.2 wins this year, which could actually be low, as he put up more than 5 in both 2009 and 2010. That being said, if he’s as awful as he was last year, it could also be hugely optimistic. A great Crawford performance could very well swing Boston into a playoff spot, especially if there’s an extra wildcard. Ryan Lavarnway could see a bit of time at catcher or DH, but I have a hard time seeing them keeping 3 catchers on their roster at the start of the year.
While Boston’s lineup is one of the best in the AL, their pitching staff has some huge questions heading into the season. Lester heads the rotation and has a pretty good chance to improve on last season’s performance. Beckett follows, but his BABIP was very low last season, so it’s likely he won’t be as good as he was in 2011. Then comes Bucholz, who struggled with injuries last year, but has been effective when healthy. After a strong top 3 starters though, the last 2 spots in the rotation are a mystery. Daniel Bard is likely to at least start the season there, but he hasn’t started since 2007, so even if he is effective, the amount of innings he can pitch is a concern. The last spot could be filled by Alfredo Aceves, Aaron Cook, Andrew Miller, Carlos Silva, John Maine, Vicente Padilla or perhaps some homeless fellow living by Fenway. Aceves probably has the inside track right now, but the Sox’ bullpen isn’t that deep, and he was definitely one of the most effective relievers they had last season, so I figure there’s a pretty good chance he’ll stay there. After that, if I had to venture a guess, I would say they go with Aaron Cook, who’s been a decent starter in the past.
If the Red Sox could have signed Edwin Jackson, or manage to sign Roy Oswalt, that’s probably at least a 2 win upgrade over whatever they’ll get out of the 5th spot, which is huge in terms of where I predict them to finish. Trade acquisition Andrew Bailey should basically replace Papelbon at closer if he can stay healthy, which is a big if. Melancon is a pretty good late inning option as well, but after that you’re left with Bobby Jenks, Matt Albers, Franklin Morales and whoever doesn’t make the cut in the rotation. The Red Sox whole pitching staff could really implode this year if they lose a key guy to injury, and I think this keeps them from jumping ahead of the Yankees or Rays in the AL East, even with their potent offense.
Offseason Acquisitions: Nick Punto, Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross, Kelly Shoppach, Mark Melancon, Andrew Bailey, Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva, Vicente Padilla, Clay Mortensen, John Maine
Offseason Losses: Jason Varitek, JD Drew, Jed Lowrie, Josh Reddick, Marco Scutaro, Jonathon Papelbon, Tim Wakefield, Erik Bedard, Kyle Weiland, Dan Wheeler, Hideki Okajima