Wednesday, January 09, 2008
The Sox offense did not live up to my expectations. The three that produced above their projections did not fully offset the three that fell below par. But the Olde Towne Team was still one of the top AL lineups and should be again in 2008.
David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia are the trio that performed better than expected. Big Papi didn’t hit fifty dingers last season, but still slugged 600 and only made an out 65% of the time. Unfortunately, Ortiz is unlikely to put up a 450 OBP again, since the up tick was mostly caused by a better batting average without as much of an increase in the skill set (fewer strikeouts and better line drive %) that would make it sustainable. Big Papi was somewhat lucky to get on base 45% of the time. To a larger degree, the same can be said about Mike Lowell – BA and BABIP fueled his 2007 without a corresponding change in skills set which will make it tough to produce at the same levels in 2008. DP is hard to read as he is a freak and without a real track record in the Show. The question on him is can DP adjust quicker than last year when it took him two months. Regardless, they all can equal their 2007 production but just don’t bet the house on it.
Manny Ramirez, Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp were the three down in 2007. Manny was mostly down due to a lack of appearances but his SLG took a dive too. We should see the usual 300/400 line from Manny with maybe more doubles than homers, which would drop his SLG to 500. As for Coco and Lugo, they fell hard like a couple of junkies in an unnumbered alley last year. Both showed no signs of getting their $hit together at the plate. On the plus side, the Sox have alternatives within their organization – Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie. We know what Ellsbury can do – his downside is Juan Pierre and upside is a young Kenny Lofton. Lowrie is more of a question mark but not at the plate. Scouts are mixed on his ability to stay at shortstop.
In all, the Sox offense should be expected to score as many runs as last season, if they get better production from shortstop an centerfield. Another home run hitter (Miguel Cabrera) would have vaulted the club to 900+ runs. Hey, we will just have to be satisfied with watching great pitching and glove work along with a good, but not great, lineup.