Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Season Preview: Part 2

Let’s continue the season preview with the outfield
Manny Ramirez - Left field Manny is coming off a slump year. His homerun and RBI totals were his lowest of his Red Sox career. If he can come back to even close to his career averages, the Sox will be in good shape. Even just the fear of the possibility might be enough. As long as opposing managers think he can hit, they’ll need to pitch to Ortiz. It all just builds on itself from there. Manny is also chasing his 500th career homerun. If nothing else, it should add a little fun to the season. And, expect the Red Sox to fully capitalize on the chase with plenty of merchandise opportunities.
J.D. Drew - Right field Drew was a big offseason pick-up. At the time, many people questioned his personality and work ethic. Was a player often called “Nancy Drew” really a good fit to replace Trot Nixon in Boston? You knew Drew had talent. That was never in dispute. But, when he struggled throught most of the season, even that came under fire. He picked it up in September, and was even better come the playoffs. I certainly think we can expect Drew to bounce back and become a valuable member of the line-up.
Jacoby Ellsbury/Coco Crisp - Center field I still can’t decide who is actually going to be the starting center fielder. Francona says it will be Crisp, and I agree that it should be. But, Crisp has been hurt. So, has Ellsbury been playing because of the injury, or because of a promotion. If nothing else, Crisp has to play to obtain some sort of trade value. But it comes down to expectations. Personally, I would expect them to both perform about the same this year anyway. Crisp is better than he showed last year, and I wouldn’t expect Ellsbury to repeat his World Series performance over a full season. Ellsbury might run more than Coco would, but not much. I might expect Ellsbury to be about 5-10% better than Crisp. Probably not enough to give the rook the starting gig. Send Jacoby down for a bit, and let things work themselves out.

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