In March, the 2013 Red Sox
season appeared to be a “bridge year.”
It was anything but.
Simply, the Sox met or
exceed expectations at nearly every spot on the roster. These outlier performances got the Olde Towne
Team to October baseball and the magic continued in the postseason. Incredible pitching performances, timely
hitting and a little luck brought the big prize back to Boston for the third
time in ten years. A younger me would
have never believed that the Red Sox would be this successful. These are truly the best of times to be a Sox
The future is bright as
well. The Sox boast one of the best farm
systems, according to Baseball America.
The 2014 season could be the year that the Red Sox get to the other side
of the bridge.
The promise land is one
where the Sox have a plentiful number of prospects that leads to a roster
filled with productive players at below market cost year after year. This type of team construction would give
Yawkey Way the financial flexibility to seize any opportunity and roster a
contender every season.
Currently, the 2014 Sox are
a ninety to ninety-two win team based on a reasonable ZIPS projection. They should be in the hunt to play October
baseball once again.
The ZIPS pitching forecast
is rationale. The only one to quibble
with is Koji Uehara’s .261 BABIP appears to be an outlier when the rest
of the staff is around .290. Regardless,
it is unlikely to change the bottom line, which indicates the Sox will have an
effective and deep staff with options in the minors.
On the offensive side, the
projection includes Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley, Jr.
playing virtually every day. ZIPS has
Bogaerts hitting 267/331/429 with his best comparable player being Troy
Tulowitzki (this is not a misprint). The
system pegs WMB at 249/291/425 and JBJ patrolling center field with a line of
245/322/375. These are sensible projections
and the Sox do have backup plans.
If WMB does not meet his
expectations, Garin Cecchini is a possible internal option. ZIPS has him hitting 266/342/374.
Daniel Nava’s line of
257/344/384 is a bit pessimist. He can
build on his 2013. Nava has the chance
to adjust his approach, like Kevin Youkilis did, which could lead to more
power. Nava can be a late bloomer. We know JBJ will go get it in center and a
lower hitting line could be offset by a better one from Nava.
The Sox need a safety net
for X at shortstop; just not in the form of Stephen Drew. Bringing back Drew would likely necessitate a
trade that erodes their pitching depth for the Sox to stay under the luxury tax
and would forgo a compensation draft pick.
It would also limit the playing time and development of X and WMB. Jayson Nix is a better option as a backup. As the best Red Sox position prospect for some time, X deserves a long
leash like Dustin Pedroia had his rookie season. Relax and get ready to enjoy another laser