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Playing Pepper 2009: Boston Red Sox

Posted on February 10, 2009 at 11:30 AM
Filed Under: Boston Red Sox | Playing Pepper
As the players start getting themselves ready for another season, I thought it'd be a good idea to do the same.  I contacted a blogger for each major league team and posed them five questions.  This is the result.  You can find the tentative schedule of teams here and today's main post is right here.

You know, at one point I kinda liked the Red Sox.

It was kinda like appreciating the Cubs without it being the Cubs, you know?  You saw the history, you saw the pathos, and they were kinda interesting for a fan of baseball.

After 2004 and the win over the Cardinals, not as much.  Call it a personal bias.  I am fairly sure I will never watch Fever Pitch--that grudge will last for a while.

Thankfully, Allan at The Joy of Sox was willing to see past that and answer a few questions about that other high-payroll powerhouse team from the Northeast.

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C70: Is Kevin Youkilis the real deal?

JOS: I think so, though there are some fans who think/fear he may have peaked last year. The main difference from 2007 was his slugging, which improved by 116 points (.453 to .569). His BABIP has stayed the same -- about .330 -- for the last three seasons. Even if he slips back and slugs .500, he'll offer good production. And his ability to play well at both first and third is a huge benefit. However, the baldness, the goatee and all that sweat scare the hell out of me.

C70: How has the Yankees' expensive offseason affected the Red Sox fan base?

JOS: Some people are annoyed that they are able to spend so much more money than other teams. I don't care about that -- they still have to spend it wisely. What I am disgusted about is the team asking New York City for more taxpayer money to finish the new stadium even as they were spending almost half a billion dollars on free agents.

Others think they have committed themselves to risky deals that will not bring a good return. A.J. Burnett is injury-prone and while he'll likely not be Pavano Jr., the deal is for 5 long years. The CC deal is for 8 years -- a very long time for any pitcher. Teixeira is good, but he's not $25 million good. Also, I have to think that tying up such an amount of money would hamper the Yankees in the future. Their pitching is improved, but the lineup is getting old. We'll have to wait and see.

Everyone believes it'll be a three-team war in the East. Boston, Tampa Bay and New York could finish in any order and it wouldn't surprise me.

C70: Is Theo Epstein still held in high regard or has his reputation among fans slipped somewhat?

JOS: I'm not sure what would have caused his reputation to slip. No GM's decisions are flawless, but Theo makes more good choices than bad. It's hard to argue with the results his teams have gotten. And what he has done this winter is brilliant, in my opinion. They were willing to dump a ton of dough at Teixeira's feet and he also made several low-risk signings for the pitching staff: John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Takashi Saito. The Red Sox have a good team -- they did not need to make many changes for 2009.

C70: Is there any reason to believe David Ortiz won't rebound in 2009?

JOS: Everything I have read about his wrist sounds good. Apparently, he wouldn't be playing in the World Baseball Classic if he was still having any issues. But he's a big man and he's 33 -- I wonder if he had lost any weight over the winter to take some pressure off his sometimes troublesome knees. When healthy, he's been remarkable consistent. I'm confident he'll hit.

C70: What player are you most excited to see in 2009?

JOS: I'm more curious about certain guys than excited. I'm wondering what Smoltz will offer, what Clay Buchholz may have learned in AA/winter ball (though he may start the year in AAA), can Daisuke Matsuzaka stop walking so many people (his Houdini act can't last, can it?), what will Jed Lowrie so with a healthy wrist, and who among Josh Bard, George Kottaras and Dusty Brown will be the back-up catcher.

As far as young kids, pitching prospect Michael Bowden might get a shot in September.

Appreciate Allan filling us in on the state of Red Sox Nation.  You don't necessarily have to like them, but what Theo Epstein and company have built up there is amazing considering the team history.  It'd be shocking if they weren't in the race until the final moments again this year.


1 Comment | Leave a comment

You know, at one point I kinda liked the Red Sox.....After 2004 and the win over the Cardinals, not as much.

Heh...Like we have forgotten '67 or '46. So we still owe you one. ;-)

For an NL team you guys are ok.

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