NEWwbztv-small wbz-am-small 985-small mytv38web2
New England Patriots Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers, 7:30pm
Pregame on WBZ-TV at 7pm & 98.5 The Sports Hub at 4:30pm
What To Watch For | Socci's Notebook | Tune-In Info |

Red Sox

State Of The Sox Part 5: 2011 Boston Red Sox

A Sports Blog By WBZ-TV's Dan Roche
View Comments
Boston Red Sox sluggers Adrian Gonzalez, left, and David Ortiz confer during spring training baseball in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Boston Red Sox sluggers Adrian Gonzalez, left, and David Ortiz confer during spring training baseball in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

WBZ-TV's Dan Roche Dan Roche
Dan Roche is an award-winning sports anchor and reporter for WBZ-T...
Read More
Red Sox Central
Shop for Red Sox Gear
Buy Red Sox Tickets

MLB Scoreboard
MLB Standings
Team STATS
Team Schedule
Team Roster
Team Injuries

Sports Fan Insider

Keep up with your favorite teams and athletes with daily updates.
Sign Up
Boston Red Sox

FORT MYERS, FL (CBS) – Through the first four parts of this week-long series we have focused on the Sox infield(including catcher and DH), outfield, starting pitching and the bullpen. In part five, we’ll take a look at a bit of everything that the 2011 Boston Red Sox have to offer.

Sox Lineup: Part I

1) Scutaro, SS

2) Pedroia, 2b

3) Crawford, LF

4) Gonzalez, 1b

5) Youkilis, 3b

6) Ortiz, DH

7) Drew, RF

8) Saltalamacchia, C

9) Ellsbury, CF

If Terry Francona decides that Jacoby Ellsbury needs some time to get back in a baseball groove after missing nearly all of last season with broken ribs then this could be a way to go. The veteran Scutaro hit a respectable .282 with an ok OBP of .336 in 581 at-bats. He scored 86 runs which is also pretty good.

I think Francona also knows that the best place to hit Dustin Pedroia is in the second spot in the order. Crawford batting third also makes sense, but not sure if he wants to go back to back.

David Ortiz should benefit by having Gonzalez and all the great hitters in the line-up too.

I also think that Jed Lowrie, if healthy, may be a hard man to keep out of the line-up.

Sox Lineup: Part II

1) Elllsbury, CF

2) Pedroia, 2b

3) Crawford, LF

4) Gonzalez, 1b

5) Youkilis, 3b

6) Ortiz, DH

7) Drew, RF

8) Saltalamacchia, C

9) Scutaro, SS

I think eventually the best Sox line-up will have Ellsbury at the top.

I think Francona also knows that the best place to hit Dustin Pedroia is in the second spot in the order. Lifetime in 76 games Pedey is .253/.318/.375 while in 394 games in the 2-hole he is .313/377/.473.

Crawford batting third also makes sense since he was .323/.364/.526 in 49 games last year. Gonzalez will be fine in either the 3- or 4-hole while Youkilis can literally hit anywhere and put up great numbers.

David Ortiz should benefit by having Gonzalez and all the great hitters in the line-up around him. He should get plenty of fastballs to hit.

One thing to keep in mind is that Ortiz (.222/.275/.324) and JD Drew (.208/.302/.309) both struggled against right-handed pitchers last season, so Tito may one or both against lefties, which would free up at-bats for Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald, or Jed Lowrie.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s lifetime MLB numbers over 4 seasons (.248/.315/.386) in Atlanta, Texas, and Boston are fine. He just needs to stay there (for now), handle the pitching staff, and stay healthy.

The bottom line is that this line-up will be as deep and talented as any team in baseball and as good as any Red Sox line-up ever. Should be fun to watch all season long.

Defense

It was the talk of two off-seasons ago, but with all the injuries the Sox never got a chance to show off the leather in 2010. This season there’s plenty of good defense to go around. From Gold Glove award winners Kevin Youkilis(at 1st base) to Dustin Pedroia to Carl Crawford… while Drew, Cameron, Ellsbury, Scutaro, etc aren’t bad either.

A couple of things to keep an eye on are the Scutaro/Lowrie battle at shortstop and how good Saltalamacchia is in calling games and throwing out runners. It’s been interesting to hear pitchers like Lester and Beckett say that Salty reminds them of Jason Varitek. And, Tek is here to 1) play, 2) help Salty, and 3) be an extension of the pitching coach. Nice to have Tek here at a time when he embraces his new back-up role.

Pitching Rotation:

Lester

Beckett

Lackey

Buchholz

Matsuzaka

Who is your ace? Lester? Buchholz?

Health is the key here. If Beckett can stay healthy then I think everything and everyone else falls into place. Lester is the workhorse and if he gets off to a good start…watch out. Lackey is fit and trim, but remains the biggest concern for injury.

As for Buchholz, he simply needs to continue doing what he did last year. He’s got filthy stuff, is young, and has matured. Matsuzaka is Matsuzaka and could win 10-15 games.

This group should be good for 60-plus wins… at minimum. Will be a strength of the team again. The win totals could be higher if the offense produces the way it should.

Meanwhile, pitching coach Curt Young comes in from Oakland where he did a good job with lots of young arms. Can he do the same here with mostly vets? Will there be any transition from John Farrell to Young? Something to watch, but I don’t think to worry about.

Bullpen

I think the biggest question mark on the team. Lots of turnover but some very good arms. Can Papelbon rebound? I strongly think so. His numbers were misleading last year. He needs to cut his walks down and he’ll be fine, plus he’s motivated in his walk year.

Meanwhile….who steps up from the likes of the lefties? Rich Hill? Doubront? Reyes? Lots of candidates.

And, what about Tim Wakefield? Can be a valuable member of the pen or rotation at any time. And, if healthy, he can contribute in many ways.

Bench

Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald, Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, Jed Lowrie, and Jason Varitek will make up the bench for the Sox. Cameron and McDonald could get a good amount of playing time while either/both Nava and Kalish could be in Pawtucket. Lowrie could end up starting, but could play all 4 infield positions if he doesn’t. Tek is Tek… if healthy, perfect bench player.

Manager

Terry Francona does as good a job as any manager in the game. He keeps his players motivated and out of any media trouble. He also handles a game better than he’s given credit for. Expect him to get along with Curt Young just fine. Tito had to deal with the David Ortiz situation last year (almost benching/releasing him), but got through it. Will he have more of the same this year with Papi and/or Drew? 

Intangibles

The team needs Josh Beckett to take control of the pitching staff. Youk and Pedroia lead on a daily basis by the way they play the game. That was sorely missed last year due to injuries. Curious to see how the leadership role plays out for Saltalamacchia.  Lester seems to think Salty has no problems being a straight-shooter.

Overall

Josh Beckett, Mike Cameron, and others are talking 100 wins. Lofty goals, but doable… IF… IF… this team can stay healthy. I think Crawford and Gonzalez will help solve that problem as both have been durable throughout their careers.  I think pitching health is the biggest factor.  Other than that, watch out.

Prediction

With this offense, defense, and pitching staff….this team is built to win  93-100 games. Will they? Tough to do. I think they’ll win 94-96 games. After that, health and luck play big roles in whether or not a team can win a World Series.

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,976 other followers