The Red Sox (and their fans) were disappointed with their 2010 showing, which at 89-73 saw them miss the playoffs, finishing 6 games behind the Yankees for the wild card and 7 behind the Rays for the division. The Sox made a major trade with the Padres and landed Adrian Gonzalez, slugging first baseman. They also threw big bucks at Carl Crawford, the most sought-after hitter on the free agent market, to patrol left field. Adrian Beltre, their third baseman who had a great 2010 departed for greener (read: $$) pastures. Their star first baseman, Kevin Youkilis, will move back to third. On the pitching side, they signed relievers Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks, and promoted rookie Felix Doubront.
Hitters 2010 B+ 2011 A- (+2.5 WAR)
My system sees the Red Sox better at first base (Gonzalez instead of Youkilis) but not that much, as Youk was very good. It sees them WORSE at third (Youkilis instead of Beltre) as Beltre had a phenomenal year. It sees them better, of course, in left and center where injuries to Cameron and Ellsbury saw them play replacement level players (Nava and MacDonald), and a LOT better, as Ellsbury should be back in center, and Carl Crawford will patrol left. It does NOT see Crawford repeating his 2010, though, but regressing somewhat to the mean. Pedroia should be better than an injury-plagued 2010. It sees a HUGE fall-off at catcher, though, (projecting Saltalamacchia as replacement level), and at DH (regression). Overall, then, it sees the Sox offense as improved, and it was pretty darn good last year.
Rotation 2010 B+ 2011 A- (+2 WAR)
The Sox rotation of Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey and Matsuzaka is the same as projected for last year. The system sees it as better, primarily because Beckett CAN’T be as bad as he was in 2010, and Lackey and Dice-K also figure to improve as they regress to the mean (in their cases, return to form). Lester and Buchholz both figure to decline, but the system doesn’t decline them as much as other pitchers, because it also gives them some improvement for being young and still getting better.
Bullpen 2010 C 2011 A (+3 WAR)
This was the Sox Achilles’ heel in 2010, and they took steps to address it. I am not sure that Wheeler and Jenks will do as well as this projects, but they figure to be better than the replacement-level arms that Boston threw out there last year. And if Papelbon doesn’t rebound (the projection says he will) then he will lose his job, as Bard is poised to take over the closer slot.
Overall 2010 B+ 2011 A (+7.5 WAR) 97-65
It looks like a big year in Beantown. The system gives them just about what I have been saying privately (and without analysis) – the Red Sox appear to be the team to beat for 2011.
|Adrian Gonzalez||First Base||6.0||4.3||Youkilis|
|Dustin Pedroia||Second Base||4.8||3.7|
|Kevin Youkilis||Third Base||5.3||6.1||Beltre|
|Carl Crawford||Left Field||3.4||0.4||Nava|
|Jacoby Ellsbury||Center Field||1.2||0.4||McDonald|
|J.D. Drew||Right Field||3.0||2.5|
|David Ortiz||Designated Hitter||1.6||3.3|
|Jon Lester||Starting Pitcher||5.8||5|
|Josh Beckett||Starting Pitcher||1.5||-1|
|John Lackey||Starting Pitcher||2.3||1.9|
|Clay Buchholz||Starting Pitcher||3.4||5.4|
|Daisuke Matsuzaka||Starting Pitcher||1.6||1.2|
|Daniel Bard||Relief Pitcher||2.0||3.3|
|Bobby Jenks||Relief Pitcher||1.0||-0.3||Atchison|
|Dan Wheeler||Relief Pitcher||0.7||0.1||Delcarmen|
|Hideki Okajima||Relief Pitcher||0.8||0.1|
|Felix Doubront||Relief Pitcher||0.5||0.2||Ramirez|