Thursday, April 2, 2009

Season Preview (Part II)

And, now for a quick look at the starting line-up to see what I think of them.

Jason Varitek: As an older catcher, he’s reaching the end of his line. You can only squat for so long, and block the plate so many times before your body starts to really complain. But, the pitchers still love throwing to him. Since I can’t think of another catcher the Sox can get to replace him, I’m glad he’s behind the plate for most of the Sox games. Catcher isn’t a position I expect a lot out of offensively. So, the .255 avg with 15 HR and 56 RBI he’ll put up is just fine with me.

Kevin Youkilis: He’s finally emerging as the star Billy Beane always thought he’d be. His third place finish in last year’s MVP race was a testament to his attitude as much as his stats. He can hit, and is one of the top defensive first basemen out there. He’s the reason I didn’t think the Sox needed Teixeira this winter. They already have him. Expect a .315/32/112 season from Youuuk.

Dustin Pedroia: See “Youkilis, Kevin” but notch it up a bit. Dustin’s attitude is off the charts. He’s also a Gold Glove fielder. As the reigning AL MVP he probably won’t be able to pull of the “nobody believes in me” line anymore. We’ll see how he holds up when it’s all expected. I’d certainly expect a .316/24/96 stat line at the end.

Mike Lowell: Lowell is one of the many wildcards on this year’s team. Which Lowell will show up? Will he be healthy? Will he last the season? All very big questions. At the moment, he looks good to go. I’ll put him down for .275/18/75 and see where it leaves me.

Julio Lugo (or Jed Lowrie): It doesn’t really matter who plays. Much like the #5 starter slot, either one has the same questions for different reasons. I don’t know what to expect out of either of them. Will Lowrie come up and shine? Will Lugo act like he did in Tampa? Does it really matter what happens to the #9 hitter? I think the final answer is that whatever I get from shortstop is fine. A guess? I say the combo of the two brings .268/15/63.

Jason Bay: Weird not writing Manny Ramirez’s name in this slot. Bay’s not Manny, but he might be close enough. I’m anxious to see what he can do in a full season in Boston. He doesn’t look like the type who will wilt under the spotlight. So, I’ll mark him down for .290/29/108 and hope for the best.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Once the Sox found a taker for Coco Crisp, the starting centerfield job was Ellsbury’s. He now just needs to relax and do what he can do. If he can take his time and not feel the need to produce immediately, it will be better for him. Jacoby might be the most entertaining player on the field. His speed is game changing, and makes every play a scoring opportunity. While most of his value will come from getting on base and stealing, I’ll look for a .267/8/56 season.

J. D. Drew: Drew’s talent is unquestionable. His desire for the game is the opposite. If he can put together a full healthy season, he’s a tremendous asset to the team. If he struggles through nagging injuries, he’ll be a waste of a roster slot. I’m going to go ahead and aim high with a .297/26/92 statline.

So, there are the players. How does that all add up for the season? I see no reason not to expect a 95-67 season. Will that be enough for the division? It might be. It should be enough for a wild card. In any event, it should be a fine season.

What are your predictions?

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