1 Mar 2012
Wow, Bobby Valentine likes to talk. He’s already said more controversial stuff in his first few weeks on the job than Terry Francona said in 8 seasons. I don’t mind a strong personality, but don’t turn into Rex Ryan. My prediction, Bobby last 2-3 seasons here in Boston max. His routine will wear thin quickly.
With the departures of Red Sox legends Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield (I mean that literally. Sure they aren’t in the same class as Ted or Yaz, but they were long-time Red Sox players in an era when players bounce around a great deal. They weren’t superstars, but good major league players and given their overall success and tenure, deserve to be called Red Sox legends), the departure of JD Drew, Jonathan Papelbon, Marco Scurato, John Lackey for one year, Daisuke Matsuzaka for at least a month or 2 and a few other changes, this team looks a bunch different.
Here’s what we think we know:
c – Saltalamacchia
1b – Gonzalez
2b – Pedroia
3b – Youkilis
ss – Aviles/Punto
lf – Crawford
cf – Ellsbury
rf – Ross
dh – Ortiz
It is funny, with Carl Crawford’s addition last year, there just doesn’t seem to be a way to get him into the top of the line-up. Ask yourself who is a better hitter, Crawford or Ellsbury? Crawford or Pedroia? Crawford or Gonzalez? Crawford or Youkilis? Crawford or Ortiz? There is no way you can make a case that he is better than any of those guys, based on last year efforts anyway or even when their full careers are considered. So you have to drop Crawford down to 6 or 7. He is on record this spring as saying he prefers the #2 spot, but that isn’t a smart baseball decision, he had a .694 OPS in 2011 for cripes sake.
If Crawford can find some confidence and figure out how to thrive in a lower spot in the order, then it is a good problem to have.
I like Scutaro and don’t quite understand his departure, especially since the Red Sox didn’t turn around and get a starter with the money they saved. At the same time, I think Aviles, with Punto sprinkled in, will do just fine. Jose Iglesias isn’t ready, he needs more time to simmer in AAA, especially to work on his bat.
Ross in right should be suitable and when Kalish returns, they’ll make a nice platoon. I’m interested to see if Ryan Lavarnway sticks with the big club as he’d be a great right bat to have off the bench but he’ll probably need to learn some 1b to stay in Boston.
All told, the offense should be good. With stronger dedication, there is no reason not to believe this team can score 900 runs. Considering Youkilis’s injuries and JD Drew being, well, JD Drew, the Red Sox still posted 875 runs in 2011. 900 in 2012 isn’t a stretch.