What can I say about the 2013 Boston Red Sox that hasn’t already been said? The team went from the AL East worst team in 2012 to having the best record in all of baseball in 2013, winning their third World Series Championship in 10 years. Much of last year’s team returns in an attempt to become baseball’s first back-to-back champion since the New York Yankees from 1998 to 2000. Here’s my 2014 Red Sox preview.
The Red Sox offense produced 853 runs last season, which was the most in the majors by a wide margin. There are questions about whether the 2014 team can equal the same production as last season.
No one knows if Grady Sizemore can stay healthy and replace the production of Jacoby Ellsbury. New catcher A.J. Pierzynski is an upgrade on defense and should be able to provide the same offense as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but he is 37-years-old.
Will Xander Bogaerts become the offensive shortstop the Red Sox believe he can be? He is certainly the future of the team, but Boston needs him to produce in 2014.
Last season, Red Sox starters were 67-42 with a 3.84 ERA. Much of the same rotation returns for 2014.
Boston hopes moving Clay Buchholz down to the fifth spot in the rotation will keep him healthy. He only played in 16 regular-season starts last year and should provide a boost at the back of the rotation.
Having Jake Peavy for the full season will be an upgrade from Ryan Dempster. If Jon Lester, John Lackey and Felix Doubront put up the same type of numbers, the rotation actually should be improved.
The Red Sox bullpen could be the team’s biggest strength. With the addition of 2013 All-Star Edward Mujica, the team will have a number of options for the seventh and eighth innings. I doubt Koji Uehara can duplicate what he did in 2013, when he had one of the most dominate seasons any relief pitcher has ever had. However, I still expect him to be an effective closer in 2014.
It would be hard for the Red Sox to win 97 games again like they did last season. The team had a lot of things break their way and that’s very difficult to do two years in a row. There are some questions concerning the rotation and the new everyday starters of the Red Sox.
Boston is still well-rounded enough that they should contend in the American League in 2014. Fans shouldn’t expect 97 wins again, but they can expect the Red Sox to be right near the top of the AL East once again.