Thursday, April 1, 2010

Brick Wall awaits Yankees, Rays

No hits added this offseason had a lot of Sox fans worried. I explain why this wasn't the most glaring issue, and why Theo's work this Winter has positioned Boston for an AL East championship...

Many Baseball experts have the Red Sox picked to win the AL East in 2010. This probably comes as a shock to Boston fans who remember last season. There's no way the team we watched get swept by the Angels in '09 can even contend with the surging Rays and Yankees this year, let alone pass them for the division title. Last year was disappointing, granted. In the beginning, it looked pretty good for the Sox. Jason Bay was hitting home runs left and right, the Sox swept the Yankees for the first two series, and Beckett was back to his dominating self for a while. Then, all of a sudden, the bats stopped hitting. Around August, when the Sox faced the Yankees again, the offense was completely shut down. When the runs weren't piling up, the losses were. Pretty soon, the Sox were knocked out of the playoffs without a single win. This year will be different.

What many people noticed, like I pointed out, was the lack of runs scored. It's easy to think that this was the glaring issue for the '09 Sox. So, when GM Theo Epstein lost Silver Slugger Jason Bay to free-agency and didn't add any big offensive names, it made sense to hear the uproar on Boston media and talk radio. However, something that was overlooked by many fans was an even bigger problem last year. Defense.

In the 2009 season, the Red Sox were ranked the 2nd worst defensive team in the league. Forget about scoring runs, the Sox were giving them up. If Boston was going to bolster it's offense, they needed to fix the defense first. Boston has one of, if not the, best rotations in the Majors. But what good is that if they don't have the cast to support it? By adding defensive studs like Beltre, Scutaro and Cameron the Sox have done just that. All of those positions (3B, SS, CF) had the most glaring holes last year. Those holes are now filled. Jeremy Lundbald writes on that the Red Sox are projected to save 35 runs on defense this year. That's a +87 increase from last year, the biggest increase in the majors. By creating an elite defense, the Sox have put themselves in a great position to contend and add an offensive stud later on.

Many Boston fans were disappointed that we lost one of our best offensive players, Jason Bay, and didn't go after big hitters like Miguel Cabrera or Adrian Gonzalez. However, there is nothing to fear. Instead of creating an offensive superpower to attack the Yankees on opening day, the Red Sox went the other way. They've dug themselves in. The Yankees won't face an offensive onslaught on Sunday. But, when Derek Jeter first steps up to the plate that night - he'll be up against a wall.

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  1. I still don't understand why people keep talking about Scutaro as a defensive upgrade at short. Although he was a late addition, does everyone forget about Alex Gonzalez? And he hit well last year, too.

  2. While, I agree that I'm not overly excited about Scutaro he does figure +12 in runs saved (fourth best among SSs) while Alex Gonzalez ranked -6 (27th best among SSs). That's a defensive upgrade to me.

  3. lol when the yankees and Rays hit the ball out the park we will see how much defense helps.

  4. Very good article. The guy who posted at 5:58 is an idiot.

    The Sox lineup isn't even weak. There are 5 players on there that hit at least 20 home runs last years. The only other teams that can say that are the Yankees, Phillies and Rangers.

    After doing the math and calculating the batting average of the entire active roster, their BA last season would have been .270, the exact same as last year. Now they have V-Mart for the whole season, rather than Varitek being in the lineup every night.

    Mike Cameron, who will hit either 7th or 8th, hit 24 HR and had 70 RBI's last season. Beltre had three consecutive years with at least 20 HR before last season, during which he was injured.

    Great job. I loved the ending.

  5. I don't care what the defensive metrics said last season (one year is a laughably small sample size for a defensive player), there is no one in their right mind who considers Scutaro a defensive upgrade over A-Gonz. Gonzalez is arguably the best defensive shortstop the Red Sox have ever had. It's amazing how much people are talking about defensive upgrades, and how little they are talking about Lackey. This Sox team has a chance to make the postseason, and make a run once they get there. But, that is a possibility because of their pitching staff, and how well a rotation of Lester, Beckett and Lackey would do in the postseason. It isn't because Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre are going to be "saving" runs every game, those moves were as much (if not more) about money than they were about defense.

  6. ha ha ha...sure

  7. the guy who writes this blog is a douche

  8. @ Anonymous, 2:59. You bring up some great points on the other side of the ball. I think this team could definitely pleasantly surprise a lot of people. I guess we'll see come Sunday.
    Thanks for the support, I enjoy doing this and your comments are greatly appreciated!

  9. So let me get this straight, the Yankees and Rays are gonna hit a brick wall because of their defense? Please explain how the Rays have a bad defense. Their defense is just as good as Boston's, if not better. As for the Yankees, their defense certainly isn't great, but it's no worse than last year when they won it all.

  10. dude bottom line is that u are an idiot, the red sox suck thats why the yanks beat them...u guys come back from 3 down and all the sudden ur the greatest team ever when u couldnt even win for years.... ur team went 85 years between series which tells me that way before u were sucking milk out of ur mommie's titties, she was watching the sox bending over and taking it from the yankees