Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Red Sox Outlook

Now that I’ve read up a little.

There are the big hitters, Ortiz, Ramirez, Varitek, and Nixon (if healthy). All one year older. Coco Crisp is already on the all-name team, and may hit well. None with signs of obvious deteriorating ability, but also none likely to have a better season than 2004 or 2005.

I don’t like this infield. Youkilis bids fair to be more than enough OBP for a 3rd baseman – but he’ll be at 1B, which usually requires more bat. If he hits .300 with 100 walks and little power, which is about the best we could hope, is that enough? Maybe. Cora, Loretta, Lowell, Snow – these are not good hitters, none of them. Gonzales, fair. Graffanino, fair. The prospects, Machado, Ellsbury, and Pedroia all look very promising. But we all know what percentage of prospects work out.

For those who like sharp fielding and smart baserunning, though, this is a good group.

Pitching is going to be entirely about health. Schilling, Beckett, Foulke are all saying they feel healthy and are in good shape, yadda, yadda, ya. I think I have heard that every spring since 1966. Wakefield may be entering the second half of his career. Papelbon could light up the league, Clement and Arroyo could be solid…

We are going to miss Doug Mirabelli. If Foulke is back in form, the whole pen should hold up.

I think this is a reasonably good risk for a Wild Card. There is some chance for a pennant. But even more than the last few springs, there is a chance for disaster this season. An injury to any outfielder, Ortiz, or Varitek would be devastating, and there is no reason to think anyone in the infield is likely to rise as a replacement. Injuries to pitchers might be weatherable – but we also have a higher-than-usual risk of multiple injuries there.

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