2005 Record: 95-67 (2nd Place)
2005 Runs Scored: 910
2005 Runs Allowed: 805
Expected 2005 Record: 91-71
Itís usually not a good sign when the drama behind your GM situation overshdows most of your offseason moves. However, while Josh Beckett is the only big name star acquired by Boston this offseason, they have managed to bolster their pitching staff without losing much with regard to their positon players. The question is wehether theyíve done enough to keep pace with the Yankees and fend off the upstart Blue Jays.
2005 Starters: Cap Varitek, Doug Mirabelli
Projected 2006 Starters: The Capín, Josh Bard
Varitek has established himself as the best offensive catcher in baseball, but still canít throw out a runner or catch Wakefieldís knuckleball. Josh Bard would provide a good defensive option, but Boston is considering carrying 38-year old liability John Flahery instead.
2005 Starter: Kevin Millar, John Olerud
Projected 2006 Starters: JT Snow, Kevin Youkilis
The Fielding Bible, shows Snow to now just rank average defensively, which makes his sad offensive production unjustifyable. For the first time in recent memory, the Red Sox are short on corner outfield/1B/DH types.
2005 Starters: Mark Bellhorn, Tony Graffanino
Projected 2006 Starter: Mark Loretta, Graffanino
Graffanino is a solid player coming off of a career year, while Loretta is a good player coming off his worst offensive season since 2002. Between the two of them, they should rustle up enough offense to match last yearís second base platoon. Both are adaquate defensively.
2005 Starters: Bill Mueller, Kevin Youkilis
Projected 2006 Starters: Mike Lowell, Youkilis
According to The Fielding Bible, Mike Lowell is the best third basemen at guarding the line and charging bunts, but the worst at just about everything else. He replaces Bill Mueller, a guy with limited range, but who makes every play that he should. On one hand, there are a lot of balls pulled in Feway in efforts to take advantage of the Green Monster. On the other, rarely does a team try to beat Boston with bunts. Basicaly, if Lowell canít return to his pre-2005 offensive status, the Organization will finally turn to Youkilis, who shaould have had a starting job somewhere two years ago.
2005 Starters: Edgar Renteria
Projected 2006 Starter: Alex Gonzalez, Alex Cora
Gonzalez has proven to be a more consistent defensive shortstop than Renteria, and canít be too much worse on offense... can he?
2005 Starters: Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon, Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, Jay Payton
Projected 2006 Starters: Man-Ram, Trot, Coco Crisp, Adam Stern
The Bosox donít have much outfield depth with Millar gone, and that will play a large role, since Nixon and Ramirez arenít exactly known for their ability to play every day. Besides, Nixonís virtually useless against left handed pitching. Johnny Damon hasnít been a plus defensive outfielder since 2003, and has always had a terrible arm. The Red Sox donít lose anything on offense or defense with Coco Crisp.
2005 Starters: David Ortiz
Projected 2006 Starter: Papi
Ortiz may have gone from the most underrated player in baseball while on the Twins to the most overrated in Boston after somehow winning widespread MVP support last year, but he remains one of the top ten hitters in all of baseball.
2005 Front Three Starters: Tim Wakefield, David Wells, Matt Clement
Projected 2006 Front Three: Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Wakefield
Everyone thought that Boston had a surplus of starting pitching last year, but the Red Sox wound up happy to throw anybody with a mid-4ís ERA out every day. While ostensibly improved here, Schillingís return to form is far from certain, Beckettís never made 30 starts in a season, and knucklebalers are as unpredictable as they come.
Other 2005 Starters: Bronson Arroyo, Wade Miller, Curt Schilling
Other Possible 2006 Starters: Arroyo, Clement, Wells
Here we find definite improvement, because even if Wellsí trade demand goes through, Boston has exciting young John Papelbon (2.65 ERA) to use as a swingman. Aroyo and Clement could have good years, but at the very least theyíll eat innings for a ball club.
2005 Top Relievers: Mike Timlin, Keith Foulke. Chad Bradford, Mike Myers
Projected 2006 Top Relievers: Timlin, David Riske, Julian Tavarez, Rudy Seanez
This would be the year to ressurect the closer-by-commitee experiment. The last time they tried it, naturally it didnít work; their relievers were terrible, and they would have failed under any circumstance. This year Boston has no less than five relievers good enough to close for nearly any team, plus prospects Papelbon and Jermaine Van Buren who could be ready to shine. Their biggest weakness last season has become their biggest strength.
In terms of personnel, Boston has certainly improved this offseason. However, we may not notice this in the standings due to the teamís age and thier slight overpefromance last season. This team is deep everywhere except at 1B/OF, so age and injuries shouldnít be a huge problem. After saving nearly $10 Million a season by having Crisp over Damon, the Red Sox gave themselves some room for maneuvering at the trade deadline without sacrificing any productivity.
As the Yankees are coming off of their quietest offseason in over a decade, is it finally Bostonís time to take the division? Perhaps. But clearly, it will go down to the wire between New York, Boston, and Toronto, and there will certainly be a Wild Card contender in the Central to deal with as well.
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