Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Boston Red Sox (95-67, .586, 2nd in AL East, AL Wild Card)

Asking me to be impartial here or with the Cubs is like asking a coyote to watch the steaks while you run inside to take a leak, but I'll give it a shot. Also, I'll try to keep it brief, as I already picked at the rotation on the main site.

Jason Varitek is back behind the plate and will help stabilize the team after losing clubhouse guys like Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller and Kevin Millar. Damon and Millar will be missed for their rodeo clown antics that kept the Boston media off of other teammates and topics and I think that bears mentioning in a town like Boston.

JT Snow, I forgot we picked you up. Welcome to the inflield with other new-to-the-team starters, Mark Loretta, Alex Gonzalez and Mike Lowell. While Kevin Youkilis is penciled in as the starter at 1B, I see them platooning all year.

Gonzalez should be an upgrade from Edgar Renteria (I don't even have the energy to rip him) and there are plenty of utility guys (Alex Cora and Tony Graffanino have their names all over the depth chart) to pick up the slack if need be. Dustin Pedroia is also on the list as the minor league guy who may see some time if need be.

The outfield looks better than it did a few weeks ago with Coco Crisp in center, Manny Ramirez in left and Trot Nixon in right. Adam Stern and presumably Gabe Kapler will round out the roster there. (Note: The Crisp Trade, Manny being Manny and other topics here will be explored later. It's too much to handle right now).

While the bullpen is nothing to write home about, I figure Julian Tavarez is good for shock value as the ugliest man on the team and the starters look solid with Curt Schilling reporting in great shape this year.

Saving the best for last, David Ortiz is serving as the official ambassador to Manny, watching out for him and serving as the good-natured buffer for the team and their left fielder. The two of them as a package deal are what make the Red Sox offense go. Ortiz is a great hitter with power for days and a thick clutch hitting streak, but he doesn't see half those numbers or a quarter of the pitches without Manny batting ahead of him.

There are too many new guys to call the AL East for the Sox this year, but I do think there's enough talent to take another run at October, espcially if the Yanks stumble out of the gate again. With a new infield, I worry about defense, but with a SS known as a glove man and a veteran at 2B, I feel better about that.

If need be, you can cross your fingers and wait for Big Papi to come to the plate. The one-man Earl Weaver Memorial Slugger single-handedly kept the Red Sox in games last year and there's no reason why he can't do it again this year as well.

Boston Red Sox
C: Varitek; Flaherty; Bard
1B: Youkilis; Snow
2B: Loretta; Cora; Pedroia; Graffanino
SS: Gonzalez; Cora; Graffanino
3B: Lowell; Cora; Graffanino
LF: Ramirez
CF: Crisp; Stern
RF: Nixon
DH: Ortiz
SP: Schilling; Beckett; Wells; Clement; Wakefield; Papelbon
CP: Foulke
RP: Timlin; Riske; Arroyo; DiNardo; Seanez; Tavarez

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