Boston Red Sox, 2009 Record: 95-76, 2nd Place, AL East,
Lost in 1st round of the playoffs to California
Additions: John Lackey P, Adrian Beltre 3B, and Mike Cameron CF
Subtractions: Jason Bay LF
After winning their first World Series in 86 years, and another three years later, Boston Red Sox fans quickly grew accustomed to winning. That’s why 2009’s 95 win season and a playoff loss to the Angels, coupled with the hated Yankees winning the World Series, have left many Sox supporters less than satisfied.
Part of the problem for the ’09 squad was the drop in production from what was previously a fearsome offensive team. The hitters still put up quality numbers, but an incredibly slow start from David Ortiz and injuries to Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis cost the Bosox some much needed production.
On the mound, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester had solid years, but beyond that, injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka and inconsistency from the rest of the staff left the Boston rotation with some holes.
For 2010, GM Theo Epstein certainly left the Sox with no questions about pitching. With the signing of pitcher John Lackey, the rotation gets a big boost. Add in Beckett (in a contract year) and Lester, and the Red Sox suddenly have an elite trio on the mound. Look for the last two spots to be claimed by a healthy Dice-K, a newly confident Clay Buchholz, and veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. While the team is said to even be considering a six-man rotation, whoever doesn’t make the rotation (likely Dice-K) will head to the bullpen, which is led by strikeout machine Jonathan Papelbon and solid supporting cast, including Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima Ramon Ramirez, and David Bard.
The Red Sox biggest weakness will be the offensive “if” factor. While many were thrilled with the signing of Lackey, Epstein’s swing toward defense in lieu of replacing Jason Bay’s offense have some wondering if Boston’s offense may fall off even further in 2010. The success of free agents Adrian Beltre at 3rd and Mike Cameron in center hinges on if both players can boost their offensive numbers in hitter-friendly Fenway while solidifying team defense. Further, to prevent another poor offensive year, Boston will need a much better year and better start from DH David Ortiz (no homers till May 20th in ’09), a healthy Kevin Youkilis, and even better seasons from LF Jacoby Ellsbury, 2B Dustin Pedroia, and another solid year from RF J.D. Drew. If all that happens, the Boston’s perceived offensive weakness may once again be a strength.
Another "if" in play is that Ortiz, Varitek, Lowell, and Beckett are all in the final years’ of their contracts. While the team certainly wants to re-sign Beckett, many wonder if the former three are on the downward swing of their careers and if they can stay healthy enough to put up solid numbers that will show they can still play and contribute beyond 2010.
Projected Opening Day Lineup
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
C Victor Martinez
1B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
RF J.D. Drew
3B Adrian Beltre
CF Mike Cameron
SS Mario Scutaro
RHP Josh Beckett
LHP Jon Lester
RHP John Lackey
RHP Tim Wakefield
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Jonathan Papelbon
Another 95 to 98 win season is certainly possible for the Red Sox. Though, on paper, they don’t measure up the Yankees in overall talent and Tampa looks be a contender again, the Bosox can certainly have the horses to secure 2nd place in the Al East and take the wild card. And then, if the trio of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey stays healthy, and the offense is even average, they could be deadly in the playoffs.