The Red Sox have made a couple of moves so far this off-season, so I thought I’d way in on what I thought of them.
First, the John Lackey signing. Love it. John Lackey brings a number of skills to our pitching staff. He’s a workhorse, logging over 200 innings four times in eight seasons. He has a career ERA of 3.81. And he is a big game pitcher, with a postseason ERA of just 3.12. He has been a major part of multiple successful Angels teams, and I look forward to seeing him in a Red Sox uniform. With him in our starting rotation, it looks something like this: Beckett, Lester, Lackey, then some combination of Daisuke, Wakefield and Bucholz. Tell me that’s not a scary lineup. A 3-game series featuring our top three pitchers give us a legitimate chance to sweep every time things line up in our favor. The Red Sox probably overpaid for him, but that’s the nature of the beast when it comes to starting pitching.
The nice thing about this deal is we still have Clay Bucholz to dangle during trade negotiations. We can use him to bring in a hitter like Adrian Gonzalez or keep him until the trade deadline next season and see who’s available then. And from the looks of things, a bat is what they still need. Mike Cameron provides a good bench option for outfield, but he doesn’t have the pop that Jason Bay had. Marco Scutaro can probably play shortstop well enough, but he’s also never been known for his power. So far, the Sox lineup looks pretty thin in its bottom 3. At the top you have Ellsbury and Pedroia, which no one can argue with. Then you have Youkilis, Ortiz, Martinez and Drew. Youk is great, but there’s no telling what you’re going to get from Papi this year. V-Mart should be fine, I can’t wait to see what he can do with a full year at catcher. And Drew will probably be the same as always: a combination of inconsistency and injury. After that, your lineup looks like this (in no particular order): Cameron, Scutaro, and Kotchman. Do any of those players scare you? I thought not.
Unlike in the NL, AL teams have to be strong 1-9. You can’t win if you have easy outs in your lineup. The Yankees won it all last year because they had no easy outs. The fact that the Yankees are in our division compounds the problem. The Yankees are a very difficult team to beat. You can’t out-defend or out-pitch them, because they’re still going to put up four or five runs a game (especially now that Curtis Granderson is on their team). Your only chance is to out-score them and hope your pitching does enough to keep their scoring to that minimum. If you can put up 5 or 6 runs, you can beat the Yankees. Any less, and you’ll probably lose. Right now, the Sox are not built to score 5-6 runs a game. They’re more built to score 3-4 runs a game and try to keep other teams to less. That’s an awful lot of pressure to put on a pitching staff. Can our rotation handle it? Yes. But I’d feel a lot more comfortable with another bat in that lineup.