Tuesday, January 08, 2008
"We reached a point with our situation, having most of a world championship club back, having a burgeoning farm system, which I think was just rated the second best in all of baseball, where we feel that we can improve by letting our young players play. We don't have desperate holes we need to go out and fill at any cost. We can pick and choose what makes sense for us, rather than be desperately in the marketplace."
The above statement from Theo Epstein should not be taken solely as spin for Bill Smith as he tries to extract more from the Sox and others for Johan Santana. It is also fact.
Based on the Sox run differential, they were a 102 win team last season. Run prevention (pitching and defense) was outstanding. The Olde Towne Teams has the ability to replicate the same level of production in 2008.
Even if the Sox see a drop off from Okajima, Wake or Schilling, they should be fine for a couple of reasons. First, Tavarez will not be starting 23 games. Lester will take those innings and should provide the Sox with a better shot at winning the ballgame. Second, Buchholz is waiting in the wings in case the older statesmen go down. The guy with the third best stuff in the organization is backup plan.
The other side of the ledger is not as rosy. Many hitters could take a step back from their 2007 levels without the same kind of plan B in the minors.