The Red Sox had a tumultuous season in 2012, one that almost made 2011 look sane by comparison. Once the owners forced Bobby Valentine on the club, it was all further downhill from there. They flirted with last place in the AL East, made a shrewd salary cutting maneuver, and subsequently still finished dead last in the AL East. Despite the monumental preseason expectations that come with two World Series wins in the last eight years and a payroll north of $180 million, the Red Sox disappointed like no other team in recent memory. (Until the Yankees this season, but I digress.)
The Red Sox enter 2013 in what they claim is a budget conscious mindset, and while it may temper the printing of postseason tickets, it doesn’t necessarily mean that drafting Red Sox on your fantasy team will temper your postseason expectations. You may think I’m a jaded homer, but if you read what’s laid out here, you’ll realize that I’m much more jaded than the regular homer.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2013 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Jarrod Saltalamacchia||.222||.288||.454||55||25||59||0||448|
|1B Mike Napoli||.227||.343||.469||53||24||56||1||417||w/TEX|
|2B Dustin Pedroia||.290||.347||.449||81||15||65||20||623|
|SS Stephen Drew||.223||.309||.348||38||7||28||1||327||w/2TM|
|3B Will Middlebrooks||.288||.325||.509||34||15||54||4||286|
|LF Jonny Gomes||.262||.377||.491||46||18||47||3||333||w/OAK|
|CF Jacoby Ellsbury||.271||.313||.370||43||4||26||14||323|
|RF Shane Victorino||.255||.321||.383||72||11||55||39||666||w/2TM|
|DH David Ortiz||.318||.415||.611||65||23||60||0||338|
Unsettled: Catcher. The Red Sox catcher depth chart has plenty of dollar-store options, but only in real life, not for your fantasy team. The current projected starter is Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is currently said to be available for trade as the Red Sox also possess power-hitting prospect Ryan Lavarnway. They also signed career backup David Ross, who draws a paycheck despite a career .238 average because he’s a good receiver. Unless you’re in an AL-only or two-catcher league, I don’t think Salty’s power makes up for his dismal average (and OBP if you count that). Lavarnway has power worth a gamble if Salty gets moved or hurt.
Target: Dustin Pedroia. No matter the commotion on or off the diamond, the soap opera created by the media and the actions of the players themselves, you can always count on Pedroia to go out there and be his scrappy self, an annual threat to go 20/20 with a .300 average. His value may dip in some eyes as he is coming off career lows in OBP and SLG, but the Cafe’s own R.J. White believes, ranking “Pedey” as his No. 2 second basemen. I can’t make an argument that Pedroia should be any worse than the third 2B off the board, so if he’s around, take him and thank me later. You can hit me up on Twitter for my Paypal if you like.
|Jon Lester (L)||9-14||4.82||1.38||166||68||205.1|
|Clay Buchholz (R)||11-8||4.56||1.33||129||64||189.1|
|Ryan Dempster (R)||12-8||3.38||1.20||153||52||173.0||w/2TM|
|Felix Doubront (L)||11-10||4.86||1.45||167||71||161.0|
|Franklin Morales (L)||3-4||3.77||1.23||76||30||76.1|
Unsettled: Ryan Dempster. So help me God, why did the Red Sox enter this so called spend conscious mindset only to waste $39 million on a guy who can’t hit righties, and a guy who in his first exposure to pitching in the AL, impressed nobody with a 5.09 ERA and 10 HRs allowed in 69 IP? I guarantee I will not own Ryan Dempster on any team of mine, and I will mercilessly mock whoever takes him in my live drafts until they punch me in the face. If I were you I would not draft Ryan Dempster, and should he succeed you can have your money back on my Pedroia prediction. Also currently missing from the projected rotation is John Lackey, who has reported early to camp and is eager to prove everyone wrong. No word if he feels country strong. If anyone in your league drafts John Lackey, your league is impressively deep.
Target: Jon Lester. Lester had a tough 2012, but so did every member of the Sox rotation. There are a couple things working in Lester’s favor that indicate the potential for a rebound. He gave up a career low FB% but a career high HR/FB% of 13.9%, finishing with the 10th-worst mark in baseball. His career mark coming into last season was 9.3%, which is slightly better than average. Some regression there will help. He also finished with baseball’s 4th-worst strand rate at 67.6%. Going into last season his strand rate was 76.8%. Keep all his other 2012 stats the same but return those two stats to his career marks he gives up 37 less runs and his ERA drops like an anchor from 2012’s 4.82 to a manageable 3.51. (Hit me up on Twitter for my math.)
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Joel Hanrahan (R)||36||2.72||1.27||67||36||59.2||W/PIT|
|Andrew Bailey (R)||6||7.04||1.89||14||8||15.1|
Chasing Saves: Because last season’s offseason trade for a closer worked out so spectacularly, the Red Sox decided to do it again this offseason (face-palm) by trading oh-no-not-him-again Mark Melancon and a pair of prospects to Pittsburgh for Joel Hanrahan. Truthfully, they must really be worried about last season’s closer, Andrew Bailey, and his delicate injury history, as the guy they gave up for him only hit 32 home runs. Hanrahan has always been a guy who can strike guys out, but he can and will also walk too many. As exciting as it is to watch your closer walk people, his security on the job should be in the mid tier. Keep an eye on how well Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard pitch should Hanrahan struggle.
The Red Sox were the laughingstock of baseball in 2012 because of their dysfunction. It appears there will be a couple lean years while (hopefully) the front office learns pitchers like Ryan Dempster aren’t the answer, and guys who hit .230 against righties aren’t worth $39 million (can you tell I like Victorino?). However, I would draft Pedroia as soon as the third round, Middlebrooks is a rising star, Jonny Gomes cannot be slept on in Fenway, Ortiz is a stud and Lester can bounce back. It appears to be another long season at Fenway this year (and the next few years) for fans of the real team, but there are options for your fantasy team.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the New York Yankees.
Ken Kesterson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Ken in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of bigken117. You can also follow him on Twitter @kenkesterson since he put it twice in the article.
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