AL East: Red Sox in Full Rebuilding Mode
For the Boston Red Sox, the past two seasons have been ones they would like to forget. The Red Sox ended the 2011 season, after playing strong all year with an all-star roster, with one of the most incredible collapses in baseball history that resulted in missing the playoffs. In the offseason, Terry Francona was dismissed and Bobby Valentine was brought on board to manage the team.
Many believed Valentine, known for being a “player’s coach”, would be able to turn the hodgepodge of stars and egos into a cohesive team unit. What resulted was the first losing season (69-93) for the Red Sox since 1997, ending with a fire sale of the Red Sox star studded line-up and the firing of Bobby Valentine after only 10 months of work.
The trading of 1B Adrian Gonzalez, SP Josh Beckett, OF Carl Crawford, and UT Nick Punto to the Dodgers allowed the Red Sox to prepare for the future by freeing up salary cap space. The Red Sox also sent 3B Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox during the course of the season. In the offseason, the Red Sox brought on board Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell to be the skipper and looked to fill some of the holes left by the exiting veterans.
A number of veteran acquisitions highlighted by SP Ryan Dempster, CL Joel Hanrahan, and OF Shane Victorino will help add some stability to the lineup. The Red Sox will lean on SP Clay Buchholz and SP Jon Lester to produce plenty of wins at the top of the rotation. Returning stars DH David Ortiz and 2B Dustin Pedroia will need to provide valuable production, building off their strong performances last season, as the Red Sox look to develop some of their young talent.
A few budding young stars to look out for in the 2013 season are 3B Will Middlebrooks, who had a breakout year as a rookie last season, and OF Jackie Bradley Jr., a two-time National Champion at the University of South Carolina. Middlebrooks will be looked upon to anchor the middle of the lineup and produce runs. Jackie Bradley Jr. will likely start the season in the minor leagues but, with the uncertainty surrounding whether the Red Sox will re-sign OF Jacoby Ellsbury and Bradley’s current spring training production (he is sporting a .444 batting average), I think we’ll see him in the Bigs sooner-rather-than later.
Look for the Red Sox to exhibit marginal improvement over last year, provided their veterans produce, but expect yet another slow year as they continue to rebuild and work towards the future. Projected 2013 Record: 74-88.