When you are an annual contender, change doesn't tend to come in one fell swoop, but the Red Sox made one big addition to their rotation and a number of less-publicized adds to their lineup. It should all add up to a stronger pitching staff -- if that was possible -- and a deeper lineup.
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The Red Sox didn't get Roy Halladay to front their rotation, but the did add the next-best thing this winter by signing John Lackey from the Angels. It strengthens their position in the AL East and wild-card races, not to mention taking a chunk out of the team they always seem to be matched up against in the postseason (Anaheim).
Their lineup additions weren't as splashy this winter -- Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron -- but that trio gives some pop from the right side and, most importantly, was signed to improve a defense that ranked as one of the worst in the AL. That should help their pitchers post even better numbers in Fantasy.
Breakout: Clay Buchholz, SP
Interestingly, we choose a pitcher to break out that doesn't even have a rotation spot to call his own yet. The Red Sox figure to slot a veteran rotation ahead of him, but Buchholz is plenty talented enough to force their hand with him in their rotation. Tim Wakefield is old and coming off back surgery, so there is no guarantee he will be ready for the start of the season at this point. We can pretty much guarantee Wake won't make it through the entire season healthy, regardless. Because Buchholz could start the year in the bullpen or Triple-A, he could be as much of a sleeper as he is a breakout, but we believe the cream will rise to the top and Buchholz will be owned and a must-start in all Fantasy leagues before the year is through, if not out of the gate. If you don't like this breakout pick, try Jacoby Ellsbury on for size. He was a gem in the steals category, but he could add power as he matures and adds bulk to his wiry frame.
Bust: Marco Scutaro, SS
Scutaro got off to a great start last season, one that made him a waiver-wire gem and had him owned in all Fantasy leagues. That was a lot of smoke and mirrors, though. He is not as good as he showed and he wore down as the season wore on. The Red Sox will send Jed Lowrie to Triple-A to prove healthy and productive to start this season, but we see the Red Sox resorting to their longer-term option as the everyday shortstop before the end of the year. Scutaro, 34, was widely considered a super-utility man before posting a career year in 2009 and earning a free-agent deal with the Red Sox. Banking on more improvement out of a middle infielder in his mid-30s is a bad strategy in Fantasy, regardless of how intriguing his supporting cast and new home park is.
Sleeper: Adrian Beltre, 3B
It seems like ages ago when Beltre busted out with 48 homers and 121 RBI en route to a huge free-agent contract with the Mariners. He wound up being a busted-up has-been at age 29 a year ago. Fenway Park and this supporting cast should help revitalize him. After all, he is still listed at just 30 years old, believe it or not. Beltre is a late-round pick in mixed formats, but he could prove to be quite a find if he holds off Mike Lowell for everyday at-bats and proves capable of attacking the Green Monster from the right side of the plate as the Red Sox are banking he will.
| ||Pos.|| |
|1||Jacoby Ellsbury||LF||1||Josh Beckett||RH|
|2||Dustin Pedroia||2B||2||Jon Lester||LH|
|3||Victor Martinez||C||3||John Lackey||RH|
|4||Kevin Youkilis||1B||4||Daisuke Matsuzaka||RH|
|5||David Ortiz||DH||5||Tim Wakefield||RH|
|6||J.D. Drew||RF||Alt||Clay Buchholz||RH|
|7||Adrian Beltre||3B||Top bullpen arms|
|8||Mike Cameron||CF||CL||Jonathan Papelbon||RH|
|9||Marco Scutaro||SS||SU||Daniel Bard||RH|
|Top bench options||RP||Ramon Ramirez||RH|
|R||Jeremy Hermida||OF||RP||Hideki Okajima||LH|
|R||Mike Lowell||3B||RP||Manny Delcarmen||RH|
|1||Michael Bowden||23||RH SP||Majors||Triple-A|
|A great long-term rotation candidate, but there's no room right now; he'll start in Triple-A or the bullpen.|
|2||Junichi Tazawa||23||RH SP||Majors||Triple-A|
|He was impressive in his first full season in America and will be great rotation depth if the BoSox need him.|
|3||Ryan Westmoreland||19||OF||Low Class A||Low Class A|
|Baseball America chooses this long-term prospect as the best in their system, but he is a ways away.|
|4||Casey Kelly||20||RH SP||High Class A||Double-A|
|He has given up on playing SS, which should help his career take off; he could pitch in Boston this year.|
|There is a case to be made for another OF here, but Kalish is younger and has more HR-SB potential.|
|Best of the rest: Josh Reddick, OF; Lars Anderson, 1B; Reymond Fuentes, OF; Anthony Rizzo, 1B; Jose Iglesias, SS; Derrik Gibson, 3B; Felix Doubront, SP; Kris Johnson, SP; Che-Hsuan Lin, OF; Aaron Bates, 1B; Michael Almanzar, 3B; Stolmy Pimentel, SP; Yamaico Navarro, SS; Kyle Weiland, SP; Oscar Tejeda, SS; Luis Exposito, C; William Wilson, SP; Brock Huntzinger, SP; Will Middlebrooks, 3B; Pete Hissey, OF; David Renfroe, SS; Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF; Stephen Fife, SP; Zach Daeges, OF; Mitch Dening, OF; Dustin Richardson, SP; Mark Wagner, C; and Richie Lentz, RP.|
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