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Monday, February 4, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Boston Red Sox

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MLB Team Preview: Boston Red Sox
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

BOSTON RED SOX
2012 Overall record: 69-93

RECAP: Expected to contend, the Red Sox instead endured unusually bad years from key players, season-long feuds with manager Bobby Valentine, and ended up jettisoning a good portion of their talent in trades by season’s end, all on the way to a miserable last-place finish. 

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Joel Hanrahan, Stephen Drew, Johnny Gomes

NOTABLE SUBTRACTIONS: all those guys they traded to LA at the end of the year, Daisuke “Dice-K” Matsuzaka

Keys to Success: Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz must prove that their 2012 dips in production were a fluke. There is plenty of reason to believe they can return to their previous levels of success, but there’s a lot of pressure on them. Will Middlebrooks must play a full season and avoid a sophomore slump. Finally, Napoli and Victorino must avoid slipping any further as both of them are switching positions (to 1B and LF, respectively) which will place higher demand on their offensive output. And can any of their high-profile bullpen acquisitions (Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan, et al) match what Boston gave up to acquire them?

PROSPECT WATCH:
 Prospect Key:
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excel at Tool
JACKIE BRADLEY, OF:
Power
Speed
Hitting
On-base ability
Defense
Arm
x
x
xx
xx
x
x
Bradley, 23, has all the tools and baseball skills to be a superstar, and could replace Jacoby Ellsbury in center next year if he leaves as a free agent, or maybe even force a trade. Bradley destroyed high-A Salem, hitting .359/.480/.526 with an insane 26 doubles in 234 AB. Moved up to AA-Portland in the second half, he wasn’t as dominant but still his own, hitting .271 and getting on-base. Overall he had a .315/.430/.482 line with 9 HR and 24 SB in 128 games.
MATT BARNES, RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x
TBD
TBD
x
x
x
Top pick from 2011 Barnes had an incredible first month at low-A Greenville, before settling in as a rock solid pitching prospect at high-A Salem. His ridiculous numbers for Greenville: 26.2 innings, 12 hits, 1 run allowed, 4 BB, 42 K. At Salem he wasn’t quite as amazing but still went 5-5 with a 3.50 ERA and good peripherals. He is on track to start 2013 at age 23 in AA and projects to be a no.2-no.3 starter.
ALAN WEBSTER, RHP (ROOKIE WATCH):
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x
x
x
TBD
TBD
x
Webster was the top prospect acquired in the LA-BOS megatrade. He went 6-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 27 games for AA-Chattanooga last year before being traded (he only made two starts after the trade) with 57 BB and 117 K in 121.2 IP. Those are good-not-great numbers, but Webster is close to the major leagues and will get a chance to start for Boston soon.  
XANDER BOGAERTS, SS (ROOKIE WATCH):
Power
Speed
Hitting
On-base ability
Defense
Arm
xx

x
TBD
x

Bogaerts could finally put an end to Boston’s carousel at shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra was traded away, and sooner rather than later if either Stephen Drew or Jose Iglesias struggles. Bogaerts has tremendous power for any position, let alone shortstop and between A-AA he hit .307/.373/.523 with 20 HR (37 2B) and 81 RBI in 127 games.  He was strong at the end of the year in AA but his 1/21 BB/K indicates he was too aggressive, and will need to improve on that in order to maintain a decent batting average at AAA or the majors. His defense, for now, is palatable at short, and if Middlebrooks hits as well as he did last year, shortstop is Bogaert’s future for the Red Sox.
JOSE IGLESIAS, SS (rookie watch):
Power
Speed
Hitting
On-base ability
Defense
Arm




xx
xx
Scouts love Iglesias for his defense, but despite the fact that he could start 2013 in the majors, his upside is extremely limited by his abominable offense totals. His complete lack of hitting skills make all the positive press about him puzzling, as his greatest upside would seem to be someone like Rey Ordonez, a notorious defense-first player. Those kinds of hitters don’t usually last long as everyday players and even glove-men like Brendan Ryan or Adam Everett hit better than Iglesias in the minors. A higher-end comp for Iglesias could be Cesar Izturis, who was moderately valuable for several years and is still employed as a journeyman shortstop. Is that something to brag about?

2012 Top Draft Pick: Deven Marrero, SS

Sleeper MLB Contributor: BROCK HOLT is a scrappy infielder who Boston acquired from Pittsburgh in the Hanrahan trade. He hit .340+ last year in the  upper minors and could be a Jeff Keppinger kind of player. 

2013 OUTLOOK AND PROJECTION:
The Red Sox went into 2012 thinking they were a powerhouse, and ended up in last place. They were the victims of bad luck, unusually bad performance, and bad team chemistry last year, but considering all three players traded to LA (Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez) were supposed to be top-tier players as late as a year ago, they’ve lost considerable upside on paper going into this year. The Red Sox had a busy winter but not necessarily a productive one, replacing the aforementioned veterans with lesser ones. The only acquisition who fills a hole and stands to actually improve on what the Red Sox got there in 2012 is Stephen Drew at shortstop, but even that is far from guaranteed. Worse, the Red Sox overspending on mediocrity like Victorino limits their payroll flexibility in the future. Still, they retain key players like Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester, and their farm system is brimming with high-end talent, some of which could help this year. That kind of depth means that despite lacking on paper, the Red Sox can still be 
POSSIBLE CONTENDERS.

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