The Boston Red Sox have managed a couple of World Series championships in the past decade, but that has only caused a bit of a rift between the fans of the team. Some believe that they are still the great team of Pedro, Schilling and Manny and that there is nothing to worry about. Others, including myself, believe that they are stocked with middle-of-the-road guys that may manage a Wild Card birth at best. Regardless of one’s outlook for the team, the Red Sox will continue to remain competitive this season while they try to find an answer or two for the loss of their dependable power threats.
|C Victor Martinez||.303||.381||.480||88||23||108||1||588||w/ 2T|
|1B Kevin Youkilis||.305||.413||.548||99||27||94||7||491|
|2B Dustin Pedroia||.296||.371||.447||115||15||72||20||626|
|SS Marco Scutaro||.282||.379||.409||100||12||60||14||574||w/ Tor|
|3B Adrian Beltre||.265||.304||.379||54||8||44||13||449||w/ Sea|
|LF Jacoby Ellsbury||.301||.355||.415||94||8||60||70||624|
|CF Mike Cameron||.250||.342||.452||78||24||70||7||544||w/ Mil|
|RF JD Drew||.279||.392||.522||84||24||68||2||452|
|DH David Ortiz||.238||.332||.462||77||28||99||0||541|
Unsettled: Designated Hitter. The last true note of uncertainty disappeared when Beltre was signed. Mike Lowell, Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall, Jason Varitek and Jed Lowrie could make up one of the better benches in the majors. They all could also be called up on to help out David Ortiz once in awhile if he has similar prolonged hitting issues like he did last season. Although the numbers look like he had a less powerful Carlos Pena experience, he was utterly awful for months. Therefore, look for Francona to seriously consider benching Ortiz more often against better pitchers if Ortiz becomes more of a sure out. Aside from that interchangeable spot in the lineup there really isn’t much mystery as to who plays where.
Target: Adrian Beltre. There are more obvious early round choices in the usual suspects of Ellsbury, Martinez, Pedroia and Youkilis, but it is Beltre that might provide the best value numbers for the season. Based on his track history (minus a bit of a fluke year in 2004) Beltre should put together a solid .280 average with at least 24 home runs this year. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but if he manages to rebound from an injury-plagued season last year, his other counting statistics could rival those of other third basemen taken a little higher than him in a draft. Added to the fact that the third base position is rather scarce this year and you have yourself a decent guy to wait for as the rounds pour on. I would hesitate to bank on certain numbers from Beltre, but if you get him and pair him with someone with upside (Stewart? Gordon?) you might luck out for the year.
|Josh Beckett (R)||17-6||3.86||1.19||199||55||212.1|
|Jon Lester (L)||15-8||3.41||1.23||225||64||203.1|
|John Lackey (R)||11-8||3.83||1.27||139||47||176.1||w/ LAA|
|Daisuke Matsuzaka (R)||4-6||5.76||1.87||54||30||59.1|
|Clay Buchholz (R)||7-4||4.21||1.38||68||36||92|
Unsettled: Fourth and fifth starters. It pains me to leave out Wakefield, but recent news have determined that the 43 year old veteran and fan favorite is still battling some injury issues. I would normally give him the benefit of the doubt, but he is an old guy these days and it is probably unlikely that he’ll be able to hold up for a whole season. Therefore, unless he is looking excellent in the spring, I think the team will go with the two guys that qualify as healthier. However, if Matsuzaka reveals (or doesn’t reveal) another injury and continues to hand out walks like he’s a founding member of the Free Pass Charity Organization, then look for a late switch to the knuckle man. Buchholz is likely to stick in the rotation no matter what given his upside as well as his rumored transfer to another team come July.
Target: Jon Lester. Beckett has the somewhat steady history and Lackey could be considered over hyped given the expectations of what he may or may not do for his new team. However, I say target the only guy in the rotation that could conceivably build on his towering strikeout total and improving K/BB ratio. If Lester gets his WHIP down a little more he will be more of a dominant pitcher than he already is, so while the brand name aces get scooped up at the usual places, don’t sleep on the 26 year old that may be the main guy by the end of the season.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Jonathan Papelbon (R)||38||1.85||1.15||76||24||68|
|Hideki Okajima (L)||0||3.39||1.26||53||21||61|
Chasing Saves: Papelbon is the man until lightning strikes (or his one year contract runs out). There have been wayward rumors of his possible departure due to an expiring contract or dependability issues, but he still provides the best chance to close out a game considering the rest of the bullpen. As long as he keeps zipping them in there he will likely continue to get re-hired every year as the team’s mostly dominant closer.
However, if someone is going to sneak a few saves out of the situation it’ll probably be the relatively dependable Hideki Okajima, even if he’s much more preferable as a reliever as the years go on. In fact, if Papelbon were to go down it would likely end up as a bullpen by committee. Keep an eye on Daniel Bard, though, for he is known perennially as the next big closer for the Red Sox with an absolute laser of a fastball. If he ever manages to control that thing, watch out.
Despite what their chances are for this season, the Red Sox have a bevy of talent to choose from in the early rounds of a fantasy draft. Given the scarcity of stellar power options at the position, Victor Martinez is likely to go very early in any draft that allows him catcher and first base eligibility. The next to go would be Jacoby Ellsbury, who should still put together numbers rivaling his output last year even if the stolen base total might be a tad less. Once a draft gets to the tired likes of Beltre, Drew and Ortiz, one still has to feel confident that the lineup that these players are in will provide decent return despite whatever inconsistencies may occur. Finally, no matter who ends up at the end of the rotation, the prospect of an improved season by no-hit Buchholz might make him the only conceivable sleeper on the team.
Evan Mauser is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Evan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of MashinSpuds. He also writes a music blog when he isn't enraptured by baseball.
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