2007 is over. The Red Sox were the best team in baseball, best regular season record and a World Series ring. The best part about this is, 2008 is going to look largely the same. Here is a position by position analysis of what the 2008 Boston Red Sox will look like, and what they should and will likely do with any holes that may exist.
1st Base: Kevin Youkilis
Does anyone else realize that was his SECOND full major league season? Only his second season as a full time player and he was absolutely spectacular. Youkilis is going to put up another big season, and will be a spectacular on base machine again. I also expect his power numbers go up.
2nd Base: Dustin Pedroia
Look at this, another fantastic youth produced by the Red Sox organization. This guy was fantastic May through October. His sophomore year is going to be fun to watch. Still calling for ROTY ’07.
Short Stop: Julio Lugo
This guy has 3 more years on contract with the Sox, and I pretty much expect them to give Lugo another chance. He showed several signs of promise this year, and hopefully the Sox can stick to their guns and let Lugo get a second year in with a little less pressure on him. I think he can come through and be a great speed guy for us for the next three years.
3rd Base: EMPTY
There are a few options here.
Option #1: I vote Mike Lowell. Lowell is looking for a 3-4 year deal before he retires. GIVE IT TO HIM! Lowell is a great guy and offers so much to this team. With the youth movement the Sox are moving towards, Lowell could be a great veteran guy to have around for a few more years.
Option #2: Alex Rodriguez. I don’t see this happening at all. Mainly because I see the Sox agreeing with me on the resigning Lowell. There is one and only one situation in which Alex Rodriguez comes to Boston. Boston would have to TRADE Julio Lugo, and play A-Rod at short. I’m so confidant in the Sox signing Lowell that this is the only way A-Rod comes to Boston. The Red Sox are going to put a price tag on A-Rod, and they will not go above that. They will not overpay. My guess, is that they won’t pay more than 26 Mil a year for him, which is insane in the first place. Someone is going to bid higher, or Boras is gonig to demand more, and A-Rod will not wind up in Boston.
Option #3: Move Youkilis to third. I say not, an errorless season is good enough for me. Keep him over at first.
Left Field: Manny Rameriez
One more year on the contract, I see no reason why this changes.
Center Field: ?
Hard call here. Jacoby Ellsbury or Coco Crisp? I think it’s time for Ellsbury! Let Ellsbury start the season there and give him a real shot at the majors. I in no way think Crisp should be let go though. Let Crisp be a bench player for one year. Let him play every few days, do a 4 man outfield rotation to a certain degree. Coco can be a great player on the bench and can be used as a defensive replacement for Manny late in games, and can also be a great Dave Roberts type weapon. Manny has one more year on his contract, keep Coco for that year and start ’09 with an outfield of Coco, Ellsbury, and Drew.
Right Field: JD Drew
Everyone keeps referring to the JD Drew signing as a failure by the Sox. I say nay. Drew had a poor year in general, but he started fantastic, and ended fantastic. Drew could be an great bat in this lineup and I think, like Lugo, a second year in Boston would drastically help him.
Josh Beckett: Is there any question now that this guy is #1?
Daisuke Matsuzaka: Tagging this guy to start #2. He’s had a whole season of AL ball, I look to him to improve in year two just as Josh Beckett did.
Jon Lester: I want this guy in my 3 hole. Game 4 was great, he can perform, give him the chance to do it for a full season.
Tim Wakefield: Take this $4 million option once again! This is why I wrote about him being tremendously valueable. Let him take 30 or so starts, he will win a good number of them and take innings away from everyone else. This also means keeping Mirabelli around.
Clay Buccholz: Let the rookie regime begin.
Yes ladies and gents, Curt Schilling is not in my ’08 rotation. Curt, I want you to retire. I know you said one more year, but please, finish your career as a Sox and go down in the books with a ring. I don’t want to see you go anywhere else and I really think the Sox are going with youth here and are not going to resign you. Call it quits, I love you and I love your hall of fame career. Go out with some pride.
Quite possibly a few more postseasons from being considered one of the best closers of all time, right up there with Rivera. This guy is fantastic and he is going to keep being so. With the team the Sox have build, expect Papelbon to have plenty of chances to prove himself as a Rivera level closer.
Okijima: Of course they keep him around. Big part of the team this year.
Delcarmen: This is your year little Manny, step up and be a fantastic 7th or 8th inning guy for us. You have the stuff to make it happen.
Bench: Alex Cora
Keep this guy around. Great utility infielder.
I’m not going to bother with the other bullpen or bench slots because there’s nearly no chance to get them right. Those are a few slots where Theo will chose what our best options are and I do not have enough information to really know what those last few players are.
2008 is going to be a fantastic year for the Red Sox in which I think they can easily put up another 95 wins, and a legitimate shot at 100 wins.