Offseason In Review: Boston Red Sox

Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Red Sox.  Here's what we wrote about them on October 20th.  Changes for 2009:

Additions: Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Ramon Ramirez,Takashi Saito, Rocco Baldelli, Junichi Tazawa, Tim Wakefield (exercised option), Jason Varitek (re-signed), Mark Kotsay (re-signed), Brad Wilkerson, Randor Bierd, Nick Green, Billy Traber.  Midseason: Jason Bay

Subtractions: Coco Crisp, David Aardsma, Mike Timlin, Paul Byrd, Sean Casey, David Pauley, Kevin Cash, Bartolo Colon, David Ross, Alex Cora.  Midseason: Manny Ramirez, Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen

Extensions: Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester

Despite taking a very different approach from the Yankees, the Red Sox also had a positive offseason.  They extended three talented young players and maintained financial flexibility by signing free agents to low base salary contracts. 

Last year the Red Sox ranked 2nd in the AL with 5.22 runs scored per game.  Changes in the '09 lineup include the subtraction of Manny, Crisp, and possibly Lugo, as well as more time for Bay and Lowrie.  CHONE projections and the Baseball Musings lineup analysis tool predict the best offense in the league: 5.62 runs per game.  Theoretically the Baldelli addition can limit the damage if Drew is to miss time. 

Boston's '08 rotation ranked 3rd in the AL with a 4.02 ERA in 966.6 innings.  The '09 rotation is similar but deeper with the additions of Penny and Smoltz and the possible emergence of Clay BuchholzMichael Bowden, a quality young pitcher, seems buried on the depth chart.  I tweaked CHONE's innings projections and ended up with a 4.13 ERA for this year's group.  That seems pessimistic but we'll go with it.

Last year's bullpen posted a 4.00 ERA in 479.6 innings (I know these bullpen ERAs aren't great indicators but let's not overcomplicate things).  The subtractions of Timlin, Aardsma, and Hansen help.  Add in more innings from Masterson as well as imports Ramirez and Saito, and this 'pen projects at a 3.43 ERA.  Even if they're not that good I can still see a few extra wins this year.

Defensively the Red Sox ranked 5th in the AL according to The Fielding Bible II.  I don't think they'll suffer for the losses of Crisp and Manny.

Like the Yankees, the Red Sox project on paper to win 100+ games.  Of course, for both teams some players will get hurt and have unexpected seasons.  Plus, the quality of competition in the division should bring down those win totals.

Bottom line: The Red Sox failed to sign Mark Teixeira, but he was a luxury for them anyway.  I liked Boston's low-risk offseason approach, and it's scary to think that they could make major summer trade acquisitions.

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