2006 Team Preview: The Boston Red Sox
by Keith Glab, Baseball Evolution
February 25, 2006



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.

Catcher

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.

First Base

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.

Second Base

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.

Third Base

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.

Shortstop

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?

Outfield

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.

Designated hitter

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.

Pitching

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.

Final Word:

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.




Become A Sponsor of BaseballEvolution.com
Sponsor a page at BaseballEvolution.com. On a page of your choice, you can place a personalized message, a tribute to a player, or a link to your website!



Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith Glab resides in Chicago, Illinois, and can be reached at keith@baseballevolution.com.



Baseball Evolution Features

The Teams Page
Find about all about your favorite team.
  GO
Friends
Yes, we have them. Check out these other fantastic sites.

Hall of Fame
See who's in, who's out, and where we differ from Cooperstown

Splitsville
All kinds of split statistics and what they mean.

Statistics
Your source for stats, conventional and otherwise.

Award Room
All of your award info and analysis right here.

News and Notes
Interesting odds and ends from around the league.

Top 100s
See where we rank'em.

Trivia
Test your baseball knowledge.

Predictions
As the season rolls along, check to see how accurate our 2005 predictions were.

Boneheads
See who's making a lot of money to embarrass themselves writing about baseball.

Heated Debates
We don't always agree with each other.

Scorer's Corner
Keith shares scoring oddities that he has encountered.

Player Nicknames
How we refer to certain players when we're discussing them.

Ballpark Food
What various ballparks around the league should be serving up to the fans.

Scouting Reports
In-depth analysis of high-level prospects.

The Name Game
Put your skills to the test.