I wish I were as optimistic as Chad Finn in this morning’s Boston Globe who predicted 93 wins and a Wild Card Slot I think that is optimistic since we don’t seem to have a reliable closer with Andrew Bailey injured. I also am not sure about Bobby Valentine who was not my pick to replace Terry Francona. But all that aside, I’m excited about a new season.
Here are some of Finn’s other predictions and my comments,
Mike Aviles will be an offensive upgrade from Marco Scutaro.
In his second year as the Red Sox’ starting shortstop, Scutaro had a fine season in 2011 (.299 batting average, .781 OPS). When he was traded in January to Colorado for nondescript pitcher Clayton Mortensen, the deal left many Sox fans puzzled. But Aviles, 31, is a better player than he gets credit for — as a rookie in 2008, he hit .325 with 10 homers for the Royals. He hit .317 after coming to the Red Sox last year, and he’s a lifetime .288 hitter. If he stays healthy, he may be one of the season’s big surprises.
I’ve always like Aviles. He is versatile and good hitter. Maybe not a flashy fielder but steady. The right decision was made about the starting shortstop.
Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz will combine for more than 50 victories.
Two seasons ago, the Red Sox got exactly 50 wins out their big three of Jon Lester (19 wins), Clay Buchholz (17) and … er, John Lackey (14). Beckett had just six wins in an injury-plagued season in ‘10, but he bounced back last year with arguably the best year of his Boston career. There’s no reason he can’t be as effective again in ‘12. Nineteen wins is always a reasonable expectation for Lester — he will get 20 one of these seasons — and a healthy Buchholz is capable of being much more than a No. 3 starter. I’m putting the Lester-Beckett-Buchholz trio down for 54 wins.
I haven’t quite gotten over the fried chicken and beer from last year, but I hope they have grown up. And as far as I’m concerned, Lackey was one of Theo’s big mistakes.
Cody Ross will become a fan favorite.
Actually, after a spring in which he hit six home runs — brashly and entertainingly flipping his bat on at least half, if not all, of them — he probably already is. But as a righthanded hitter with a swing tailor-made for Fenway Park, a career-long knack for hammering lefthanded pitching (last season excepted), and a personality that almost makes Kevin Millar seem like a wallflower, Ross will be in the middle of the fun at Fenway this summer.
Actually, I’m already a Ross fan.
The Red Sox will win 93 games.
As I wrote last week, the Red Sox are somewhat reminiscent of their 2002 club. Like their counterparts of a decade ago, these Sox have a roster top-heavy with elite talent, but there are depth questions at the end of the rotation and in the bullpen. The ‘02 Sox won 93 games and missed the playoffs. The first edition of Bobby Valentine’s tenure as manager will win 93 games — and make the postseason, thanks to the second wild card
And lose in the ALCS to the eventual champion Rangers.
How’s this for a scenario? Three AL East teams will make the postseason, with the Angels’ overrated lineup beyond Albert Pujols causing them to fall out of contention in the final week. The Red Sox will beat the Yankees in the one-game wild card matchup, then dispatch the Tigers in the Division Series. But the run ends against Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish and the eventual World Champion Texas Rangers in the ALCS. All in all, not a bad first season for Bobby V., despite the 324 different controversies along the way.
Here’s to new beginnings! Go Sox!