The New York Yankees may be trying to buy themselves a world series in 2009 with the off season spending spree they went on, but they will not win the AL East in 2009!
The Boston Red Sox had a mild offseason with the acquisitions of solid starting pitching including Brad Penny and John Smoltz, but that wasn't all.
The Red Sox looked to pad their weaker and more injury prone right field with the signing of Rocco Baldelli. Despite all of these offseason pickups neither of these new comers will be the reason why the Red Sox will win 100 games in 2009.
This season there will be a few players who need to make their presence known in order to secure a starting role throughout the season. I am not implying that their jobs are on the line, but they didn’t have an easy place for any of them on the roster when there is so much talent.
These Players include:
Despite turning 37 on April 11th, I feel that Jason Varitek still has one last season of solid numbers left in him. Throughout spring training 2009, he has a team leading 15 RBI and is making sure the front office knows that signing him was not a mistake.
The captain will always have a place in my heart and a place in the heart of every Red Sox fan, especially after catching four no-hitters and the historic A-Rod scuffle. He will always be The Captain of our Era.
This 42-year-old knuckler has certainly been a piece of the Boston puzzle over the years, but this may be the year that he gets the boot from the rotation to go back to the bullpen.
His 10-11 record with a 4.13 ERA in 2008 may not be the kind of stats to keep a spot in the rotation, especially when you have Clay Buchholz who has had a phenomenal spring training, posting a 0.46 ERA up until a late poor starting performance on March 31st versus Tampa Bay.
With those two veterans trying to keep themselves motivated in 2009, the real reason why the the Red Sox will win 100 games in 2009 are as followed.
The Starting 3 Pitchers
These guys are as solid as they come.
The centerpiece to this perfection is Josh Beckett.
Josh Beckett will lead the league in wins in 2009—I am going to predict he goes 22-6 with a 3.33 ERA. I was recently listening to WEEI Boston Sports talk radio when a caller came on and said that C.C. Sabathia is a better pitcher than Josh Beckett will ever be.
Let's break down the facts: Josh Beckett has never had a poor post season performance with the Red Sox and, if I can recall correctly, C.C. Sabathia wasn’t exactly aces.
Despite his 12-10 record in 2008 Josh Beckett posted 36 wins combined in the two season before. Since 2006, Josh Beckett is 48-28 and C.C. Sabathia is, believe it or not, 48-28 since 2006 as well. The regular season is too close to call, Beckett's better in the postseason.
You be the judge.
Secondly, Jon Lester will be the solid young gun that the Red Sox have needed in the number two spot for years now. This young man is coming off the best season he has ever had in his short career, and his mind-blowing performance doesn’t look to change in 2009. A 3.21 ERA followed up by a 16-6 record make him a force to be reckoned with.
Finally, Daisuke Matsuzaka is that solidly consistent man in the rotation who will put up big numbers in the win column season after season. He has only been with the Red Sox since 2007, but since then he has put up a 15 win debut season and followed that with a 18-3 season last year which landed him third on the AL Cy Young voting list.
The one downfall to Daisuke is the amount of walks he gives up per season, an average of 87. On the bright side, has also more than doubled that amount in strike outs per season, with an average of 177.
The theory of the gyro ball when he first came to the MLB was quite the mind-blower but now that he has settled down and he is getting read a lot easier by other teams, it makes you wonder why he only gave up 128 hits last season, 63 less than his 2007 total.
The Solid Batting Order
The lead-off man is one of the most important roles in baseball—not only does he have to set the pace at the beginning of the game, but the team relies on his speed to get that sacrifice bunt late.
Jacoby Ellsbury may not be the greatest lead-off hitter in basebal: in fact, his .280 batting average last season was under par for lead-off hitters around the American League.
Nonetheless, a solid effort was made in 2008 as he was in competition for the starting role with Coco Crisp, and he still played 145 games racking up 50 stolen bases in the process.
Second in the lineup is the man who shocked Red Sox nation in 2008 and for that matter, the rest of the MLB. He is a small second baseman but he has power and potential every time he steps into the batting box, the one and only Dustin Pedroia.
The only hardware this guy doesn’t have is a Cy Young Award and I truly believe he is capable of that if he really tried. With such a young and illustrious caree,r he looks to put up another season of solid numbers such as the .493 slugging percentage or the .326 batting average. The statistics go on and on,but the conclusion is simple—he will be the 2009 A.L. MVP.
Batting in the number three position is nothing out of the ordinary for this slugger. Although he has been roughed up over the past few seasons, his desire and will to win a championship has never changed. Big Papi (AKA, David Ortiz) is going to have the comeback season he has searched for over the last two seasons. He only played 109 games in 2008 and only had a .264 batting average.
This season is different and I am predicting a 30+ home run season like he had in 2007. If he keeps off the extra weight and the extensive training he did in the offseason pays off, he will have a 110 RBI season in 2009. This is a prediction that many people will disagree with, but the will to keep his team going without Manny Ramirez being a distraction is going to work this year, and don’t be surprised to see him on a few MVP ballots come November.
The cleanup hitter in 2009 may be the man known around Fenway Park as “Youk”, but I like to refer to him as Mr. Consistent. Kevin Youkilis finished 2008 third in the AL MVP voting, but that did not mean anything to him.
What did matter to him was that he had a solid season that contributed to his team’s success into the playoffs. The reason for his title of Mr. Consistent is quite simple: since 2006 he has had an on base percentage of .380 or better, a slugging percentage of .429 or better (including a career high .569), and he rarely misses a start (he has started 145 games per season since 2006).
Not only is his bat a major contribution, so is his solid glove at either first or third base. Just the top four guys in this lineup are enough to jumpstart a rally, but the big names just keep going on.
Guys like Jason Bay: a major slugger. J.D. Drew is a big factor when he stays healthy and was also the MVP of the 2008 MLB All Star game. Mike Lowell: Any time you have a solid hitter like him batting in the No.7 position, you know the lineup is really well structured.
Then you have Jason Varitek who, like I mentioned earlier, is going to have a solid season and prove that he was worth all the trouble to bring him back.
Finally Jed Lowrie, who may not sound like a big name yet, but this young man proved to the Red Sox organization that he was the better choice than the over-paid Julio Lugo.
This may make the Red Sox World Series Champions in 2009, but it will make them AL East Champions with at least 100 wins. Feel free to comment and tell me how you think the Division is going to play out this season.