Ahhh Opening day 2014 is here. The first true mark of Spring. The grass is cut (it better be, ladies ;)), the lines are painted, and the greasy, porky odor of hot dogs fill the air. Boston has, and will always be a baseball city. Regardless of the success of the Patriots, Bruins, or Celtics, when the Red Sox make a run like they did last year, the entire state is into it. Now it is time to make a run at back-to-back World Series. They made some major offseason moves, and it looks like they are poised to get back to the ship. Here is a player-by-player preview of your 2014 Boston Red Sox.
C: A.J Pierzynski
-A.J is a great defensive catcher, who hopefully still has something left in the tank offensively. He will do a great job controlling and coaching the pitching staff, so there won’t be a transition issue with that. He needs to provide a little power at the bottom of the lineup, and he will be a great addition.
Prediction: .268, 19 HRs, 70 RBIs.
1B: Mike Napoli
-Mike needs to strike out less this season. If he can put the ball in play, with his raw power, anything can happen. His defense was a pleseant surprise last year, so hopefully he kept working on it.
Prediction: .270, 27 HRs, 110 RBIs.
2B: Dustin Pedroia
-Stay healthy Pedey. That’s all we ask of you. Continue to be the best fielding second basemen in the league, continue to get the ball on the bat, and continue to be a leader on this team and the Sox will be back in the mix. This team thrives when Dustin thrives.
Prediction: .320, 16 HRs, 100 RBIs, gold glove.
SS: Xander Bogaerts
-It is important that Xander, as well as Red Sox Nation, doesn’t put too much pressure on himself. He has all the ability to be a superstar, but lets remember he is only 21. He may struggle at first, but if he can persevere, stay up, and continue to work, he could be a big factor for this team come September.
Prediction: .290, 21 HRs, 82 RBIs.
3B: Will Middlebrooks
-Will is my pick for breakout star. He struggled at the beginning of last season, worked hard, and was much better late in the year. If Will can build on his progress, stay consistent, use all parts of the field when hitting, and doesn’t get distracted by his smokeshow, former Boston great, girlfriend, Jenny Dell, than he’ll have a huge season.
Prediction : .290, 27 HRs, 93 RBIs.
DH: David Ortiz
-Slow and steady is key with Papi. It is a long season, he is 37, and as seen last season, he comes alive during playoff time. Ortiz needs to contribute during the regular season, but needs to carry us in the playoffs. Stay healthy Papi.
Prediction: .301, 28 HRs, 100 RBIs.
Util: Johnathan Herrara
-Johnathan just needs to ready when his number is called. Whether it is pinch running, replacing a fielder, giving somebody the day off, Herrera needs to go in their and do his job. His job is to be a great fielder, versatile hitter, and smart utility man.
Prediction: .260, 7 HRs, 32 RBIs, 1 CLUTCH stolen base in October.
LF: Jonny Gomes
-Jonny needs to be the leader of this team again. The team caught his spirit, he hit timely HRS, and helped them become champions. Jonny should continue the same role as mix and match left fielder depending on opposing pitcher, as well as team leader. Jonny brings the down to earth, gritty attitude that this team needs.
Prediction: .260, 17 HRs, 78 RBIs.
CF: Grady Sizemore
-If Grady can stay healthy, he’ll be a nice replacement for Jacoby Ellsbury. I don’t expect him to be the leadoff hitter that ellsbury was, but he can provide some nice pop at the bottom of the lineup. Also look for him to make many Sportscenter Top 10 catches. Another veteran in the locker room can’t hurt.
Prediction: .298, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs
RF: Shane Victorino
-Shane needs to get healthy and stay healthy. It will be a challenge for him to takeover the leadoff spot for Ellsbury, but I feel like he will do a decent job. He is another veteran who knows how to work pitchers and pick his spots. But most importantly, STAY HEALTHY.
Prediction: .288, 10 HRs, 68 RBIs
Util: Daniel Nava
-Nava knows his role, and plays it well. I think he will play a bit more this season, may even see some time as the full time RF if Victorino can’t stay healthy. Nava is a hard worker, and will be a great spark for this team when they need it most.
Prediction: .307, 15 HRs, 61 RBIs.
Util: Mike Carp
-Carp always seemed to get the clutch hit last season, and that’s why hes still on the ballclub. Carp will be used to face lefty pitchers, as a pinch hitter late in games, and to provide depth for the (most likely) injury plagued outfield.
Prediction: .280, 10 HRs, 50 RBIs
Late Season Call Up: Jackie Bradley Jr.
-Give JBJ 100 games in the minors, call him up for the playoffs, and watch him make some clutch plays. You’ll see. It’ll be a catch, or a stolen base, or a walk, but I promise, JBJ will make an impact this year.
1) Jon Lester
-Jon will be better this season. More focused. Healthier. Happy. Can’t wait.
Prediction: 20-6, 2.88 ERA
2) Clay Buchholz
-If Clay can stay healthy, look for him to regain his dominance. Clay is a proven #1 starter, and the Red Sox have the luxury of having him at the 2.
Prediction: 18-4, 2.66 ERA, Cy Young
3) John Lackey
-Lackey was a #1 starter last year. If Lackey is still motivated, at the healthy weight, and happy, he’ll continue his resurgence.
Prediction: 16-7, 3.5 ERA.
4) Jake Peavy
-This is his first full season as a Red Sox, and I expect big things. He is healthy, he is on a winning club, and he doesn’t have the pressure of being a top starter on him. Peavy will be a big surprise this year.
Prediction: 18-10, 3.6 ERA.
5) Felix Doubront
-Last year’s most consistent starter will be the same this year. Coaches said he even came to camp in better shape then last year. Felix needs to do his job, and nothing more.
Prediction: 14-7, 3.7 ERA.
-Another new addition, look for Mujica to be a consistent presence late in the game. His slider is devastating, and we just need him to stay level headed. When he gets disrupted, his focus says see ya tomorrow, and he becomes wild on the mound.
Prediction: 60 appearances, 2.4 ERA
-Brandon will be our long reliever. When a pitcher is not on his game, Workman is a versatile replacement coming out of the pen. He can give the sox 5 quality innings on any given day, as well as give them a shutdown inning. Workman will be key this year.
Prediction: 70 appearances, 3.2 ERA
-Tazawa needs to keep doing what he did, provide a smooth transition to Koji.
Prediction: 64 Appearances, 3.2 ERA
-There is no way Koji can replicate what he did last season, so my expectations have adjusted. I really don’t understand how a hitter could hit that nasty slider, but it is really impossible to strikeout 70 while only walking 2 again.
Prediction: 56 saves, 1.7 ERA
2014 Red Sox Prediction: 91-73
World Series Prediction : Sox over Nationals in 6 games