2011 American League Preview: Boston Red Sox

Offseason analysis:

The general consensus is that the Red Sox had a fantastic offense, and it’s hard to find too many bad things to say about it. Still, people are forgetting how good Beltre and Martinez were last year. While Crawford and Gonzalez will be better over the long run, there’s not much they can add in replacing those two. The Red Sox are going to need their pitchers who underperformed last year to be better to pick this team up.

Projected lineup:

Jarrod Saltalamacchia C (30 MLB plate appearances in 2010)

Adrian Gonzalez 1b (.378)

Dustin Pedroia 2b (.377)

Marco Scutaro SS (.319)

Kevin Youkilis 3b (.419)

Carl Crawford LF (.378)

Jacoby Ellsbury CF (84 plate appearances in 2010)

J.D. Drew RF (.346)

David Ortiz DH (.380)

Projected Rotation: (2010 FIP)

Jon Lester (3.13)

Clay Buchholz (3.61)

John Lackey (3.85)

Josh Beckett (4.54)

Daisuke Matsuzaka (4.05)

2011 outlook:

Make no mistake about it, this is a good team. The offense will score a lot of runs, and there’s a lot of potentially good arms in the rotation as well. But there’s plenty of question marks too. Buchholz could regress, Lackey and Beckett may not have better years than they did in 2010, and the bottom half of the lineup isn’t the most awe inspiring ever by any means. So yes, a good team to be sure, but not one that deserves to be anointed as the inevitable American League East champion by any means.

For more coverage of the Red Sox, visit their Sweetspot Network affiliate, Fire Brand of the A.L.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

6 thoughts on “2011 American League Preview: Boston Red Sox

  1. roadduck99

    I think the Sox offense improvement will have less to do with Gonzalez/Crawford compared to Beltre/Martinez, and more to do with having Pedroia, Youkilis and Ellsbury healthy for most of the year. If Drew and Ortiz hold up and Lowrie bumps Scutaro, the only weak spot will be catcher.

    • BrienJackson

      I think people are overestimating the effect Pedroia and Youk will have. A) It's not like they missed the whole season by any means, B) They got pretty strong value out of their replacements. There's not a whole lot of room for growth there either.

      The bulk of the Sox improvement is going to have to come from their pitching.

      • roadduck99

        Pedroia played 75 games, which is less than half the season, and was primarily replaced by Bill Hall, who wasn't nearly as good. Youk played 102 games, meaning he missed two months. His primary replacement was Mike Lowell, who was abysmal. There's actually a lot of room for growth there.

        On the other hand, Darnell McDonald was pretty good filling in for Ellsbury. That's the one guy you should have mentioned.

        • MikeD

          Not sure there's "a lot of room for growth," but clearly there is some. The Sox did have both Pedroia and Youk for the first half of the season and not as if the team was setting the world on fire. Oddly, they started playing better when they were gone, which goes to show how hard baseball is to predict at times.

          Overall, I think expectations on what the Red Sox will do this year is as high as it's ever been, with the the general consensus being the Sox are the favorites to not only win the World Series, but break the all-time single runs-scored record, with others preducting 105-115 win season. Not gonna happen.

          There biggest chance for improvement this year comes from a strengthened bullpen (at least on paper) and perhaps stronger seasons from Beckett and Dice-K. If bullpen and the backend of the rotation don't improve, the Sox may find themselves fighting just for the Wild Card.

          • roadduck99

            ??
            The Sox were 44-30 (14 games above .500) when Pedroia got hurt
            They were 60-45 (15 games above .500) when Youkilis got hurt
            They were 89-73 (16 games above .500) at season's end.

            .500 baseball may be your definition of "playing better" than .600 baseball, but it's not mine.

            Anybody who thinks the 2011 Red Sox will break the run scoring record or win 105 games is irrational.

  2. Tyler

    A big deal, as said in so many places before for the red sox is health. Daisuke, Beckett, Buchholz, 1B, 2B, SS, C, LF, CF all faced big injuries last year for them. I expect it to be close between the yankees and sox, with one being 1 and one being 1A

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