Monday, March 16, 2009

How Baltimore Can Win the East '09: The Case Against the Red Sox

1. J.D. Drew is Old

OK, he's only 33 but he's an old 33. He played well when he was actually on the field in '08 but he only played in 109 games. Inury-prone throughout his career, back problems during Spring Training are not a good sign. It's being downplayed but getting nerve blocking drugs shot in to your back is hardly normal treatment for a sore back. But don't worry, Rocco Baldelli is the picture of health, right?

2. Jason Varitek is Even Older

I'm not even going into this one. It's just so obvious. Varitek is a useless player with the bat and the glove at this point. His signing was a charity case and he will have to be carried by the rest of the team all season.

3. No Manny

Despite all the headlines reporting otherwise, Manny actually was a really good hitter for the Sox last year (yes, even when he was supposedly slacking off). The acquisition of Jason Bay was a good move fiscally but Bay will not be the player Manny was and is in 2009. Manny is a virtual lock to OPS north of .900 while Bay would be quite fortunate to do so. Furthermore, Bay is a butcher in leftfield. He is not as bad as Manny but he is Adam Dunn bad.

The bottom line is that the value contributed by the Sox leftfield will be greatly diminished.

4. The Rotation

Jon Lester is a legitimate ace and should be able to duplicate last season's success. But the others...

Dice-K was extraordinarily lucky last season. His FIP was 4.11 last season, a difference of 1.21 from his actual ERA.

Josh Beckett gave up line drives at a 25% rate last season. Tim Wakefield is 42 years old. Who's the fifth starter? Clay Bucholz whose career highlight is no-hitting the Orioles? Brad Penny, an oft-injured, lazy National League reject?

Thin...the rotation is thin.

5. The Recovery of Lowell and Ortiz

David Ortiz is 33 and has a body type that does not age well. Can he really be counted on to return to 35 HR power again?

Ditto for Mike Lowell except that he will be 35. Can he still play third base? Will he ever hit better than league average again?

Wrist injuries and hip injuries, respectively, are hardly small matters for aging players.


Honestly, the Red Sox are probably the best equipped team to win the AL East in 2009. Their infield defense should be stellar, the bullpen should be top-notch and the offense should be above average barring injury. But they are hardly a juggernaut.

1 comment:

FrostKing said...

To take a line from one of my all-time favorite Joe's; "there just aren't any great teams anymore."

I guess you don't expect Smoltz to do anything either. The rotation is risky, but that risk is spread amongst 7-8 guys. And they have the smarts and the pieces to make up for any pitching deficiency with a mid-season trade.

As you say, they are probably the #1 team in the division, but not a juggernaut.