2012 Boston Red Sox Season Preview
On Aug. 31, the Boston Red Sox were 31 games above .500, in first place, and had a nine-game lead over Tampa Bay – good for over a 99% chance of making the playoffs. Life was good at Fenway Park, and general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona looked to be preparing for a run at their second World Series title together. Jump to evening of Sept. 28, and the Red Sox are walking off the field in Baltimore after going 7-20 in the month of September to miss the playoffs by one game. Francona is now an analyst for ESPN and Epstein is the general manager for the Chicago Cubs. Jonathan Papelbon, Boston’s closer for the last six years, is now performing the same duties in Philadelphia. Most would say these moves had to happen and the Boston Red Sox could be a better team for it. The Red Sox are now desperate to get the taste of 2011 out of their mouths, and they still have the line up to get it done. The infield consisting of Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis had 10 all-star games, six gold gloves, two silver sluggers and one MVP between them. Jacoby Ellsbury finished second in MVP voting last season by hitting .321 with 32 HR and 39 stolen bases. Jarrod Saltalamacchia might just be the answer the Sox have been looking for at catcher. Those names are all excellent reasons to believe the Red Sox can bounce back to once again be one of the most exciting teams in baseball. Jose Iglesias and Daniel Bard are two lesser known names that you can be just as excited about. Bard is going into his fourth year with the Sox coming out of the bullpen, with excellent results thus far. With Papelbon off to Philadelphia, he was the easy choice to slide into that spot. Instead, general manager Ben Cherington and the newly hired Bobby Valentine have decided to slide the fireballer into the rotation. Bard can reach up to 100 with his fastball, but will likely need to tone it down and mix in his off-speed pitcher more to be an effective starter. Iglesias is the heir apparent to the shortstop position currently held by Mike Aviles. With only six major-league at-bats, not many have seen what Aviles is capable of, but what he does with the bat isn’t what the Sox covet. Iglesias is already better than most in the field, and with time could develop into a great hitter. A do or die year for the Red Sox in 2012 might be a bit of a stretch, but another collapse in the fall could bring the house down once again. A World Series win and the collapse of 2011 is forgotten.
2011 Boston Red Sox Season Preview
Although sixteen games above .500 last year, the Boston Red Sox and their fans feel that 2010 was an aberration and disappointment. Management must have felt the same way because the Red Sox put the heat on the hot stove this past offseason and came away with the two most prized possessions in years–ex-San Diego Padre Adrian Gonzales and Carl Crawford, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays. Most people have them favored to win the World Series, but wins may not be riding on the bats of the new arrivals. They may ultimately depend on whether the arms of Josh Beckett and John Lackey return to form. While pre-season Cy Young favorite Jon Lester has easily moved in to the role of staff ace, the health of the rest of the staff is in question. Along with Beckett and Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and closer Jonathan Papelbon faced extremely down years in 2010. While Dice-K’s issues have been resolved by slotting him in the fifth slot, Papelbon’s situation is much dicier. Another off-season acquisition in former White Sox reliever Bobby Jenks is threatening the former closing wonder, along with last year’s set-up man Daniel Bard. If Papelbon wants to keep his job, he’s going to have to drop the 3.90 ERA he sported last season, and hope Bard continues to have command issues that have kept him in the middle-relief role for two years now. Of course, the issue of closing games might become a moot point of the Red Sox are scoring 7-8 runs a game, as most predict they will. Gonzalez has the perfect swing for Fenway, an opposite-field bop that should keep his numbers consistent, even with his transfer from the AL to the NL. Crawford will give them a speed threat they lost when outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury went down, and a healthy Kevin Youklis, moving the third to accommodate first baseman Gonzales, hitting in behind him will only increase his RBI totals from the year before his injury-riddled 2010. It looks like 2011 will be a great year for the Red Sox if they can stay healthy and the pitching rises with the power. If not, especially in the American League where the DH influences all, the runs will be plentiful instead of being a one-sided affair in Boston.
2010 Boston Red Sox Season Preview
With some of the loudest and most lively fans in Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox must match the energy of their fan base with every pitch of the 2010 season. Featuring one of the top pitching staffs in the game this year, keeping Red Sox Nation on its feet shouldn't be much of a problem. The Sox have locked-up former World Series MVP Josh Beckett for the next four seasons, and the 26-year-old hurler Jon Lester is sure to continue blowing batters away, as he has routinely done throughout his young career. But it's not the same old Red Sox club in 2010. In one of the biggest moves of the offseason, Boston acquired the dominating fireballer John Lackey, giving the squad an alarming 1-2-3 rotation that is sure to baffle opposing hitters and distress visiting fans. With youngster Daniel Bard and intense veteran closer Jonathan Papelbon coming out of the bullpen, hits will be hard to come by for clubs traveling to Fenway Park. In addition, to fill in the gaps around the team's core of Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youklis, the Sox welcome newcomers Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron to add some pop to the lineup.
2009 Boston Red Sox Season Preview
The Boston Red Sox head into the 2009 baseball season as one of the best teams in Major League Baseball. The question Red Sox fans will be looking to answer is: does Boston have another World Series Championship in them? Can this talented Bosox lineup once again put together a season that will result in them hoisting the Commissioners Trophy in 2009? General Manager Theo Epstein and Manager Terry Francona must think the Sox can win it all because they have a great lineup of players. The 2009 Red Sox will be led by catcher Jason Varitek, infielder Dustin Pedroia, outfielder JD Drew and DH David Ortiz. The Boston pitching staff includes stars Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and closer Jonathan Papelbon. Boston plays their home games at Fenway Park, one of the truly great stadiums in sports. The Red Sox compete in the uber-tough American League East, which includes long-time rival New York and new rival Tampa Bay. The Red Sox will have to best their division foes and everyone else in MLB. If Boston does, then Red Sox fans might once again see Papelbon dance a jig in 2009.
2008 Boston Red Sox Season Preview
The Boston Red Sox are the team to beat this season as they defend their World Series title. With superstars like Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz hitting, with incredible pitching from Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsusaka, and the incredible youth and talent of Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox seem unbeatable this season. Historic Fenway Park will be teeming with BoSox fans as they cheer their team on to their new role as sports dynasty and shed their image as lovable losers.