2014 Red Sox Preview

2014 Red Sox Preview

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.

David Ortiz To Play In Opener

David Ortiz To Play In Opener

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is in the Opening Day lineup after sitting out the team’s final two exhibition games due to stiffness in his right calf.

The move to sit Ortiz was more precautionary and a good opportunity to provide the long-time veteran with some extra rest. The Red Sox will have just three days off during the month of April.

The 38-year old slugger is no stranger to lower leg issues and even the slightest hint of a problem is enough to have Red Sox fans fearing for the worst.

In 2012, Ortiz injured his right Achilles tendon in mid-July and missed the remainder of the season. Up until that point, Ortiz was having an All-Star caliber year batting .318 with 23 home runs, and 60 RBI in 324 at-bats over 90 games.

In 2013, Ortiz missed all of Spring Training and made his season debut on April 20th following his now famous pre-game “This is our [expletive] city” speech. Ortiz went on to hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI during the regular-season and was vintage David Ortiz leading the Red Sox to their third World Series championship of the last ten years.

Over the course of Spring Training, Ortiz batted .054 with one home run, two RBI and 13 strikeouts over 37 at-bats.

Terrible spring numbers, while sometimes alarming, are not a reliable tool in forecasting the outlook of a veteran major leaguer. Over the last eight spring training’s, Ortiz batted above .250 just once batting .333, over 24 at-bats, in the spring of 2006.

David Ortiz will have his fair share of health scares throughout the remainder of his big league career. Few players are able to remain as productive as he has been at such an advanced age. Every missed at-bat, every day off and every jog down the first base line will be dissected and discussed a million times over. Something every player on the wrong side of 35 can expect every day they continue to put on a uniform.

David Ortiz is the team’s longest-tenured member and a vital part of the team’s plans for a successful 2014 season. Injuries will always be part of the game and the Red Sox cannot afford to lose David Ortiz for any extended length of time.

The Red Sox feature one of the deeper rosters in Major League baseball, but nobody is capable of replacing David Ortiz.