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9 Reasons the Red Sox Will be Playing in November…

By: Lena Finnerty

The Red Sox won it all in 2007 but came up short in 2008, making it to game 7 of the ALCS before losing their crown to the Rays. Even though the Sox were outbid by the Yankees for Mark Teixeira during the off-season, and didn’t make any mammoth deals of their own, Boston will be playing ball in November if they make the following improvements…

LF: Jason Bay was scooped up from the Pirates last year, finally ridding the Sox of Manny Ramirez. And Bay was solid, winning over Red Sox Nation during his brief tenure. But the pressure is on this year, and he’ll be under the media magnifying glass from day one. It’ll be interesting to see what he does in a full season in big market Boston. Bottom line, Bay needs to have a 100 RBI season if the Sox are going to play baseball in November.

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury has to be better in ’09. We all fell in love with him in the ’07 playoffs… but the honeymoon is over. As the leadoff hitter last season, Ellsbury had a .324 on-base percentage. 50 steals is a nice number, but if he got on base a little more that number could be 70!

RF: JD Drew is the highest paid player on the team… and as we know he is no stranger to the DL. Let’s hope that his back injury doesn’t flair up again, because the Red Sox need a consistent year from him.

1B: Kevin Youkilis won the Hank Aaron award last season as the best hitter in the AL, and he’s proven to be a versatile grinder for Terry Francona. Let’s see if his numbers last year were more than just an aberration.

2B: Dustin Pedroia needs no introduction. In 2007 he was rookie of the year, and in 2008 he was MVP. The similarities to Nomar’s first two seasons in Boston are uncanny, not just in production, but in the universal admiration from fans. But this 5’6’’ powerhouse isn’t going anywhere. Bottom line, he needs to continue to set the table for the cleanup guys, and play solid defense up the middle. Don’t be surprised if he has another 200 hit season.

3B: Mike Lowell is a gold glover who had 17 homers and 73 RBI’s in 113 games last season. But this year he needs to come back from his hip problem, and he needs to be reliable. No Mark Teixeira means the Sox need a healthy Lowell for at least 145 games.

SS: Julio Lugo or Jed Lowrie? Lugo, has struggled ever since he came to Beantown. Last season he had a .268 average, with only one homer in 261 at-bats. And with a recent injury that should delay his start date he’s poised to become a $9 million-a-year utility player/pinch runner. Jed Lowrie: not sure how productive he’ll be at the plate, but as for now he’s the Red Sox starting short stop.

P: Josh Beckett: Yes he’s still the ace of the staff. But this year may be his last atop the rotation unless he stays healthy. Remember 2007 when he won 20 games and went 4-0 in the playoffs? The best pitcher in the league needs to return to form.

C: Jason Varitek. He’s back for another season. Clearly his production will never be what it once was. But with personal problems behind, and a new backup, the Sox Captain should be okay for another year.

DH: David Ortiz needs to prove that he can play without Manny behind him, and he needs to return to 2007 form where he batted .332 with 35 homers. If not then the Sox are going to have a tough time keeping pace with the Rays and the Yankees.

It all starts April 6th versus the mighty Rays.


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