Ranking the AL East: DH/Bench

March 30, 2014 at 9:38am in Boston, Opinion, Red Sox
Ortiz helps the Red Sox lead the rankings for DH and bench (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The season is just a day away and there are a few rankings left to discuss. After covering outfielders, this post focuses on the DHs and benches on all the teams in the AL East. While it may seem strange to put the DH and bench together, there are few teams outside of the Red Sox that employ a full-time DH and rather cycle many players through. As a result, pairing the DH and bench is the best way to encapsulate the strengths and weaknesses of each team. So without further ado, here are the rankings:

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Only 2 out of 44 ESPN experts predicted the Boston Red Sox would hoist the World Series trophy again in 2014. (Photo courtesy of ESPN/Getty Images)

The 2014 MLB season is set to begin in earnest on Sunday night with its stateside Opening Day. However, that is just the preview of a full Monday slate that includes five nationally televised season openers on ESPN.

Accordingly, ESPN has published its experts’ predictions for the upcoming MLB season in preparation for what should be a national holiday (if Ozzie Smith and Budweiser say it, it must be true). Among the individual awards, Xander Bogaerts (41 votes) edged out Masahiro Tanaka (37) and Jose Abreu (28) in the voting to predict the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Red Sox as a team received only two votes among 44 experts to defend their 2013 World Series title. Does that seem right to you?

Continue reading ESPN Expert Predictions: Bogaerts to Win ROY, Red Sox Receive Just 2 Votes to Defend World Series »

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Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino will have an MRI on his hamstring to determine whether he'll need his helmet to start the season or not. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe)

Don’t unpack in Pawtucket quite yet, Jackie Bradley Jr. You may be on your way back to Boston before you know it.

On Saturday, in the final game of spring training for the Boston Red Sox, right fielder Shane Victorino tweaked his hamstring rounding first base against the Minnesota Twins. The likely #2 hitter for the Red Sox will receive an MRI in Boston before Opening Day in Baltimore.

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Farrell Tabs Lester for Opening Day

March 28, 2014 at 10:45am in Boston, Red Sox, Rumors
Lester tabbed as Opening Day Starter (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

In what should be a shock to no one, Joh Farrell has announced that Jon Lester will be starting Opening Day for the Red Sox. This start will mark the fourth time Lester has started on on Opening Day making him the first left hander in Red Sox history to do so (passing the likes of some guy called Babe Ruth). It has long been known that Lester would get the nod, so Farrell’s announcement is merely a formality.

Lester had a strong performance in 2013 going 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA over 33 starts. He was even more impressive over his dominant postseason run where he have up only six runs in 34 2/3 innings. Due to this, along with his solid track record, Lester was an obvious choice for Opening Day. Continue reading Farrell Tabs Lester for Opening Day »

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Sizemore looks poised to grab the Red Sox center field job

When Spring Training began Jackie Bradley Jr. was all but handed the starting center field job. Though he had struggled during his brief stint in the Majors in 2013, the front office had confidence that Bradley would be an asset to the major league club. Despite Bradley Jr. being seen as the frontrunner, the Red Sox brought Grady Sizemore in on an incentive-laden contract. The hope was that he could be close to the player he was from 2005-08 when he routinely hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases a year. There was no telling whether Sizemore, who has not played in a Major League game since 2011, could become even a shadow of his former self and for a while it seemed to be nothing more than a hopeful comeback attempt. Fast forward one month and things have changed.

Sizemore has passed every physical test that the Red Sox have thrown at him while continuing to show he can be an impactful player on the field. This spring he has hit .333/.381/.462 with one home run and two doubles. Though the power has yet to come back fully, it is important remember that Sizemore has not played in over two years so there is still a considerable adjustment period to be made, the power will come in time. More importantly, Sizemore has not looked hindered on either the field or the base paths, showing that he feels comfortable with where his health is at. Continue reading Red Sox Pick Sizemore for CF »

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Clay Buchholz

The Red Sox starting rotation seems to be set for the beginning of the regular season. Jon Lester will take the mound on March 31st, followed by John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, and Clay Buchholz in the fifth spot. Yes, this is what John Farrell and Juan Nieves decided. I am not sure I agree with placing Buchholz at the bottom of the rotation after Doubront’s last two poor performances in a row. Yesterday, he allowed 8 runs on 10 hits against the Tampa Bay Rays. I think it would be better to have Buchholz take Doubront’s spot.

The only reason to place Clay at the bottom of the rotation is to strengthen it. Based on the schedule opposing teams could face Buchholz, Lester, and Lackey. That would be a very daunting three games for any of the top American League teams, so the decision to have Buchholz at the bottom may not be cause for alarm. It just depends on how the games fall.

Perhaps this management team, known to mix things up, decided to place the weaker starters in the middle of the rotation with strong padding around them. This arrangement could serve to confuse opposing teams. The construct of a rotation should have your best three pitchers at the top. Most teams put their weakest man in the fifth position and Clay is not the weak link.  What are they thinking?

Management must have a plan. I have to believe that the World Champion Red Sox know what they are doing. The plan would be to embed their weak pitchers in the middle of the rotation, or hope that they have looked at the schedule and determined that Lester, Lackey, Doubront, Peavy and Buchholz is the best fit for the teams that lie ahead in April. With this different configuration, the Red Sox will certainly have a mental advantage over their adversaries. Players and coaches across the league will be scratching their heads as to why the Red Sox would organize themselves in this way.

I do not know how all of this is going to shake out in the end. I am confident that changes will be made, if need be, by those in charge.

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One more year: David Ortiz has reportedly agreed to a one-year extension with the Red Sox. (Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post)

When David Ortiz eventually retires, he might want to consider a second career as a lobbyist in Washington D.C.

For now, though, he won’t have to worry about life after baseball for at least another year, having successfully lobbied Ben Cherington and company for an extension to be with the Red Sox through 2015. There are conflicting reports saying the one-year deal is worth either $15 (ESPN) or $16 million (WEEI).

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