Boston went from worst to first to win the World Series. It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we were still talking about ‘chicken and beer’. Manager John Farrell turned around the team at a wicked fast rate.
The Red Sox now have a target on their backs. They will get the best effort from their opponents in every game. The Yankees and Rays are extra hungry to knock off the defending champs.
Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Will Middlebrooks, players who have yet to live up to their hype, will be asked to play everyday. Is Boston asking too much?
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the Boston Red Sox.
2013 Win/Loss Record: 97-65
Key Additions: C A.J. Pierzynski, OF Grady Sizemore, SP Chris Capuano, RP Edward Mujica & RP Burke Badenhop,
Key Losses: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, SP Ryan Dempster, C Jared Salalamacchia, RP Andrew Bailey, RP Clayton Mortensen, RP Franklin Morales, RP Matt Thornton & Alfredo Aceves
Interleague Schedule: NL Central + Atlanta Braves
Projected Starters: A.J. Pierzynski, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino & David Ortiz
Projected Starting Rotation: Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy & Chris Capuano
Closer: Koji Uehara
Fantasy Sleeper: 3B Will Middlebrooks – The once highly-touted prospect has been inconsistent in the Majors. He was a hot player to pick up when he was called up in 2012. He was on fire the first month and then cooled off. He goes through stretches when he’s nearly unstartable in standard leagues. Well, it’s a new season and the stink on him may cause him to fall in your draft. Third base is fairly deep this season. His upside is too hard to ignore if he’s there late. Middlebrooks could turn out to be a great backup.
Prospects To Keep Your Eye On: SP Anthony Ranaudo – Many of the Red Sox top prospects are now in the Majors (Xander Bogaerts & Jackie Bradley Jr.) or are a few years away (Trey Ball). Ranaudo could be a pitcher called up to take a spot of a struggling starter or if a long-term injury puts one on 60-day disabled list. I don’t expect much out of Ranaudo this season, but keep an eye on him.
Team Analysis: Boston was a team of destiny in 2013. After the horrible Boston Marathon bombings, everyone was rooting for the Red Sox to bring a championship to Boston. They were playing for the city and the motivation earned them a ring. I did not expect such a great year from them, but the players they picked up in the offseason fit the chemistry of the team. Many of those same players are back. They lost Jacoby Ellsbury and the middle of their bullpen to free agency. Boston will rely on unproven Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. to pull their weight in the field and the with their bats. I still see an AL East crown in their future (it will be close), but they will not get near the 97-win mark. Their bullpen worries me a lot. It could become a huge issue down the stretch.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 88 (Prediction: UNDER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 87-75 (1st in AL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.