Can the Boston Red Sox bounce back?
The Boston Red Sox finished last season with a 69-93 record under the leadership of Bobby Valentine who is now out of the picture and they have bought back John Farrell who was most recently the Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Farrell was the pitching coach in Boston from 2007-2010 under then manager Terry Francona.
Another change to Boston are the additions of C/1B Mike Napoli, OF Shane Victorino, and RHP Closer Joel Hanrahan. Other additions include, SS Stephan Drew and OF Johnny Gomes. Also in the mend is RHP SP John Lackey, who has been recovering from Tommy John Surgery of over a year now. So he could be an asset if he is fully healthy. Lackey in Anaheim posted solid numbers but since coming to Boston he has been subpar at best. Another pitcher that I want to see is Jon Lester, Lester has made 39 starts since September 2011, racking up a 10-17 record and a 4.89 ERA, posting just 16 quality starts in that time frame. In order success the starting pitching needs to be better, because the bullpen I think will be lights out this season with Baily and Hanrahan holding leads late in the game.
One key loss for the Red Sox was the likable Cody Ross. Ross was a great member of the team last season providing a likable guy on the field as well as off the field. Ross also put up some really nice numbers with a .276 batting average, 22 home runs, and 81 runs batted in. The departure of Ross is a major loss for the team which already has a problem with image. Ross provided one of only a few feel good stories of 2012.
So what can the Red Sox really do this season? With expectations being very little it is going to be hard to fail for the Red Sox. I do believe the Red Sox have the talent to compete. I think last year was a result of Bobby Valentine’s mismanagement more than it was the players under performing. So why am I optimistic for a change you ask? The players already know John Farrell and respect him, because of this I think the Red Sox players will play harder for him. Which should hopefully see the return of good numbers of several under performers.
The real key here will be how the pitching does, I am really excited to see if Jon Lester can bring his game back and to another level. He has the talent but I think it is fair to question his commitment. When he was younger and had a solid work ethic, he really shined. The last 39 games as I posted earlier he has really been poor. Another guy to watch is lefty Felix Doubront, he has a good start to the season last year before tailing off. The lefty through June had an 8-4 record with a 4.54 ERA, before he tailed off at the end of the season (along with the team after the Dodgers trade) finishing 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA. Out of the bullpen I want to see how Andrew Bailey does, Bailey after coming back from injury in the 9 games he pitched in immediately coming back from injury he posted a 1.35 ERA, but last year struggled at the end of the season and his ERA jumped to 7.04 and also blew his third save the final game of the season.
Players to watch for this season outside of the additions bought in will be guys like Will Middlebrooks and Dustin Pedroia. Middlebrooks was another bright spot in what ended up being a historically bad year for the Red Sox. Middlebrooks before injury had numbers of .288 AVG/15HR/54RBI, which forced the trade of fan favorite Kevin Youkilis. Pedroia had a bad year and a bad attitude last season. Hopefully he can put that behind him and put up the numbers Boston fans know he can produce.
Without any improvements in numbers this team is in trouble, but I think all players will be out to prove something this season and last years circus is behind them. While I doubt they will make the playoffs, I do think that they will be competitive to the end. I am thinking a win total somewhere in the mid 80’s would be a good prediction, as it is, there is no reason for that not to happen with the talent this team has.