Relax, the Red Sox Have the Best Offense in the Game
At least according to Buster Olney of ESPN, who ranked the Red Sox at number one on his list of top ten lineups in the majors. And what’s not to like? Sure this is practically the same lineup that faltered in September last year and missed the postseason by one game. But they did score the most runs in all of baseball with 875, eight more than the Yankees and twenty-two more than the Texas Rangers, who round the top three on Olney’s list.
So is Olney’s ranking reason enough for Red Sox fans to relax and realize that this club could be ok given it’s current roster with the offense leading the way? Maybe not.
One major decision that Bobby Valentine is going to have to make is where to bat Jacoby Ellsbury. Rick Meegan, a staff writer here at BoSox Injection feels that Ellsbury should bat third and return Carl Crawford to the lead-off spot. Naturally, Dustin Pedroia would bat second with Adrian Gonzalez hitting cleanup. Kevin Youkilis would bat fifth and Big Papi sixth with the possibility of flipping the two should Youkilis struggle in 2012 like he did last year. Like I said, filling out this lineup card won’t be a walk in the park for Bobby V. Of course this is all hinging on Crawford returning to the form that we saw during his days in Tampa Bay.
Rounding out the lineup would be Salty hitting seventh, Scutaro eighth and the weak hitting right field options of Ryan Sweeney or Mike Aviles. Slide Darnell McDonald in there against lefties.
To agree with Olney, scoring runs won’t be a problem for this club. But will it be enough? They say pitching wins championships and if that holds true then the best lineup may not be enough.
Last September was the perfect example of how a ball club lives and dies by it’s pitching. Not even the tandem of Jon Lester and Josh Beckett was enough to win one more game for Boston and give them a shot at the postseason. Granted, Beckett was out of shape and who knows what Lester thought of Terry Francona at that point, so a sinking ship couldn’t have been saved if it was Pedro and Schilling taking the mound.
Currently it’s Lester, Beckett and Buchholz as the front three. If, and it’s a big if, those three can return to form of brilliance that we’ve seen in the past, they could be one of the top trios in the game.
Question marks surround Daniel Bard as a starter, but all signs point to his move to the rotation as a positive. Alfredo Aceves may get the chance to start, should Cherington not real in another free-agent fish in the name of Roy Oswalt. Or barring some unforeseen wild trade extravaganza, a Matt Garza. Either would round out the rotation nicely, preferably Garza. But for argument’s sake, let’s go with the notion that neither will be donning the Red Sox uniform next season.
Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, Bard and Aceves. Not a bad rotation, but as I said before, still too many question marks surrounding every single one of those five to make any Red Sox fan feel comfortable.
It’s worth mentioning that Olney ranked his top 10 starting rotations and the Red Sox were no where to be found. This shouldn’t come as a suprise, not when the young Tampa Bay Rays staff takes the number two spot. Joining the Rays in the top 10 from the AL were the Angels (3), Rangers (6), Tigers (7) and Mariners (9). All terrific starting rotations, signifying how to build your starting five through draft picks and grooming. Something the Red Sox have been lousy at lately, especially when the draft picks keep get traded away.
Yes, this year’s version of the Red Sox will score some runs, no question about it. But will it be enough to remain competitive in the AL East? As the current roster will tell you, they’ll be competitive, but competitive to get to October?
At least they’ll be entertaining to watch as they win ballgames by a score of 9-8 on many nights.
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