Sunday, April 13, 2014

Boston Red Sox 2014 Preview

Koji Uehara
The Red Sox are coming off a wonderful 2013 season in which they won the World Series when virtually no one thought they'd win their division nor did most think they would make the playoffs including me.  This year they have the tough assignment of trying to get back to the top with the giant target on their back. 

The starters trot out Jon Lester, John Lackey,
Jake Peavy, Clay Bucholz, and Felix Doubront.  I'd take this starting lineup any day and think it stacks up well against any of those out there.  I think health would be the biggest thing this group will battle.  None will win the Cy Young but you'll get solid numbers which should be good enough to have them in playoff contention. 

The bullpen is solid and was also big plus last year especially once Koji Uehara took over as closer.  The pen looks good again this year and they have added former Cardinal Edward Mujica, former Dodger Chris Capuano and former Brewer Burke Badenhop to the fray.  Gives them more options as they go through the season.  They also have Junichi Tazawa and Brandon Workman returning from last year's team.  Not a ton of sexy names but the bullpen should be solid.    

The offense also looks good:

Mike Napoli
C - New guy A.J. Pierzynski should be good at working with the pitching staff and is an established hitter who won't put up spectacular numbers but won't hurt you either.
1B - Mike Napoli - Should put up good homerun and ribbie totals but his average will probably be just that, average, while striking out a lot.
2B - Dustin Pedroia is always a solid hitter and defender and after Big Papi is the heart of this team. 
3B - Will Middlebrooks - Looks like he is the guy long term though Jonathan Herrera is getting some time there now.  Either way I don't look for a ton of offense here but hopefully either can be a guy who is solid on D and can hit .270 - .290 with a little pop.
SS - Xander Bogaerts is good defensively and folks think his offense will be there in the end.  Hopefully that is true.  He has a big upside and I'd like to see him pan out.
LF - Jonny Gomes will strikeout a lot and be so so in the average department while having some pop.  I'm not real excited about him but he came up big in the World Series last year and I'm hoping some of that will carry over to this year.
RF - Daniel Nava - Last year was a breakout year for him.  If he can come anywhere close to the numbers he put up last year (.303/.385) over 536 at bats, Boston is good in right field.
CF - Grady Sizemore surprised everyone to take the starting job in center.  Everyone wants Jackie Bradley to be the guy in center but Sizemore deserves the spot right now.  I do think if he falters Bradley will get plenty of at bats.  I'm rooting for Sizemore to have a great comeback year.  He is a guy who has had some very good years in seasons past.  And if he does this year, Bradley will still get his at bats somewhere.
DH - David Ortiz makes it all good.  He just received a one year extension on his contract.  He is what makes it all hum.  He has been nothing short of "The Guy" for this franchise for over a decade.  Glad to see him and the team could come together and make the extension happen.  As long as he stays healthy there is no reason to think he won't have another very very good season.

Last year this team came out of nowhere.  That won't happen this year.  All the teams in the AL East are good enough to chip away at the wins total for Boston.  Still Boston should be right there in the running for the East title come October.  Boston won 97 games last year.  This year I think 90 is doable.  Not 100% sure they'll win the East but I'll make that prediction.  I think it would be tough to say they will win the Series again.  So tough to defend the title and I really like what Texas did this year.  Still it should be a very good year for the Red Sox.  I look forward to seeing what some of the players can do and hopefully improve on what they did last year.