The Boston Red Sox didn’t make the postseason in 2010, and that is unacceptable response following a 2009 New York Yankees World Series win.
Crawford and Gonzalez’s paychecks for bringing their talents to Boston for the next seven years are $142 and $154 million bucks respectively. That is a lot of coin, but both players are well worth the money. Guess the Yankees now share the evil empire, with an evil nation.
Signing Crawford and initially trading for Gonzalez made an already substantial line-up into a lethal one. Last season, the Red Sox hit the second most homeruns in the Majors with 211 and led the AL with 358 doubles.
Expect these numbers to grow, as Gonzalez will be hitting in batter friendly Fenway Park. This is heaven compared to his old stomping ground of Petco in San Diego, where Gonzalez went yard 31 times in 2010 and posted 40 homers just a year earlier.
Crawford retains all the tools, as a hitter, as a defender and is just in his prime at 28-years-old. Crawford’s speed is undeniable, with a career average of 54 stolen bases and posting 47 total last season.
Add the swiftness of a healthy Pedroia and Ellsbury who stole 70 bases in 2009, the Red Sox surely won’t be ranking 12th in steals in the AL like last year, with a team total of 68.
Don’t forget that the two newest Red Sox join a line-up that includes David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, JD Drew, Pedroia and Ellsbury, which gives skipper Terry Francona lots of choices.
Speaking of Francona, he is one of the paramount skippers in the game. Francona has a fantastic report with his players, but they respect him even more. After what Francona did with his injury ridden team in 2010 just certifies what we already know, that the Red Sox are in some good hands.
Boston’s starting rotation has a one-two punch of 27-year-old Jon Lester and 26-year-old Clay Buchholz, who both verified their worth in 2010. Buchholz pitched just shy of 174 innings, posting a 2.33 ERA; and Lester had a 3.25 ERA, with 225 strikeouts over 208 innings pitched.
Epstein also added needed depth to the Red Sox’s bullpen by picking up Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenkins.
What didn’t, excuse me couldn’t Epstein not achieve this off-season?
Pretty much nothing because he took a great team and made them even better. This is stuff of a GM-Genius, but the Red Sox owners deep pockets help a little too.
Even with as much ‘wow-factor’ as the 2011 Red Sox radiate, it doesn’t exempt them from having areas of concern.
Epstein and Francona’s primary worry has to be the decline of closer Jonathan Papelbon, who lead the league with eight blown saves last season, which equaled his 2008-09 numbers combined.
The once dependable Papelbon has to prove himself reliable again, as any team without a dominant closer will have serious problems, especially in the AL East.
This also adds pressure on the Red Sox starters to try to stretch out seven or eight innings every fifth day. Boston’s back-end of the rotation of Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisue Matsuzaka were not reliable last season. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Boston Red Sox’ »