Tag:Jon Lester
Posted on: March 14, 2008 2:03 am
Edited on: March 14, 2008 12:39 pm
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Boston Red Sox 2008 Season Outlook

Yea, this is for the Team-by-team Season Preview that CBS is offering. I will do the Boston Red Sox, but I'll also be doing other teams, maybe my National League team, the Mets, or other various teams. Now, onto the defending Champs!

Key Aquisitions: Sean Casey (1 year, $800 thousand), Bartolo Colon (minor league deal), David Aardsma (traded from Chicago White Sox), and the resigning of Mike Lowell, Tim Wakefield, Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez, and Curt Schilling.  

Key Departures: None, really, unless you count Matt Clement and Eric Gagne who did nothing for the Red Sox

Yes, the Red Sox had an extremely quiet offseason, but their biggest solutions have come internally. Firstly, there is the new centerfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, replacing the leather-flashing no-hitting Coco Crisp as the starter. Ellsbury gave Red Sox fans loads of excitement when he showed his hitting ability as a call-up late last season, and helped Boston win their 2nd World Series title in the past 4 years. Ellsbury gives the Red Sox a true leadoff-hitter, and whether or not he will live up to his 40 stolen-base potential is another story in itself, but he gives the Sox a hitter with more potential without losing much on defense.

In the pitching department, we will see Jon Lester look to complete a major league season after returning from his illness in 2007. The young lefty will look to become a little less erratic with his pitches, but the potential remains high, and he will fill in as the Red Sox number 4 starter behind Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Tim Wakefield. Clay Buchholz also impressed in his first major league stint, throwing a no-hitter in his second major league start. He will fill in as the 5th starter, and, barring complete failure, will remain in the rotation on a monitored pitch-count with Julian Taverez waiting in the bullpen as a spot-starter.

A lot will ride on Josh Beckett's Health for the Red SoxCurt Schilling starts the season on the 60-day DL, hoping to avoid surgery that could potentially end his career. If he manages to return mid-season, he could be a boost the Red Sox may need to stay alive with the inexperience in their rotation. As of right now, he is a tremendous questionmark as to whether or not he'll even pitch again, let alone pitch effectively. Josh Beckett's back spasms are a concern, but for now, he only is slated to miss a few weeks, probably the season opener, but should return after enough rest and pitch like the Cy Young competitor he is.

Daisuke Matsuzaka had a decent first half last year. Not anywhere near deserving of the ridiculous contract he holds, but decent none the less. He got tired down the stretch, or he got figured out, or his walks caught up to him, or a combination of everything, but either way, he broke down late and didn't pitch well. He still has the ability to be a solid starter, it's just a matter of not overusing him just because of the stories that surround his arm, and using the effective Red Sox bullpen to close games.

The bullpen still has its core, with Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon closing out games, along with Timlin, Manny Delcarman, and Tavarez the main names in the supporting cast.

The offense already has the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury, and the rest remains stable. Manny Ramirez showed up to camp on time, and in the best shape of his life. He, along with David Ortiz, whose power struggled last year due to a knee injury, will anchor this offense. Mike Lowell will look to put up a similar season to 2007, where he was arguably the Red Sox best hitter. J.D. Drew usually has an off-year, and then an on-year, so he's scheduled to have an on-year, but even with similar production, he won't hurt the lineup, even though he has not earned his contract yet. The biggest battle in the Sox lineup is for the 2-hole.

Dustin Pedroia or Kevin Youkilis. Both had very solid seasons. Pedroia, after a dismal April, showed why he deserved Rookie of the Year consideration and finished batting .317 for the season. He also only struck out 42 times in 520 at bats. Kevin Youkilis showed his solid eyes by drawing 77 walks, although that was down from his 91 in 2006, he still had an OBP of .390. The dilemma is to put the OBP man in the 2-hole, or the contact man in the 2-hole. CBS has Pedroia batting 2nd and Youkilis batting 6th, which works fine for me at this point, as long as Pedroia can put up similar numbers. Pedroia will have to see pitches for Ellsbury to run on, and keep his strikeout totals down to be successful. If not, Youkilis should be batting in the 2-hole and get on base for Big Papi and Manny.

 

 

Overall, the lineup will look like this:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury-CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia-2B
  3. David Ortiz-DH
  4. Manny Ramirez-LF
  5. Mike Lowell-3B
  6. Kevin Youkilis-1B
  7. J.D. Drew-RF
  8. Jason Varitek-C
  9. Julio Lugo-SS

And the rotation:

  1. Josh Beckett
  2. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  3. Tim Wakefield
  4. Jon Lester
  5. Clay Buchholz

Final Analysis: I feel that the lineup has improved from what it was last year with the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury into it, and, add into that a fitter and Money Motivated Manny (from this point known only as Triple M) and a healthy David Ortiz, and this lineup should hit with the best of them. The bullpen remains virtually the same, although first half Okajima and second half Okajima are vastly different.

The rotation, of course, is a concern. I do not expect a Cy Young season out of Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester, nor do I expect Wakefield to remain healthy all season, or Daisuke to be a 20 game winner. I expect this rotation to, simply, get the job done. It will have its good days and its bad days beyond Josh Beckett, but the potential can't be ignored. However, if Beckett is down for a long stint, this team will be in dire straits.

I also feel that the AL East has improved. No one should sleep on the Toronto Blue Jays, and, dare I say it, the Tampa Bay Rays. And of course, there's the Yankees, whose second half record put them back into contention and got them very close to a division title, closer than people realize. All-in-all, I expect another contending season from the Red Sox. They enter as the team to beat, not only in the AL East, but in the entire MLB.

Projection: 94-68 record, AL East Division Title-Finishing 1 game ahead of the New York Yankees in a memorable race to the last week of the season

-Mat

Posted on: January 18, 2008 2:10 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2008 4:26 pm
 

Between Greatness & Mediocrity Stands a 19-yr-old

That 19 year old, of course being Fernando Martinez, an outfield prospect for the New York Mets who has the potential skills to be a very special offensive player. He is the key to any deal if the Mets are looking to acquire Johan Santana from the Twins, but there's more to it than just him.

If the Mets want to acquire Santana, they need to practically empty their farm. We are looking at a 4, possibly 5 for one deal with the Twins and Mets, involving the best pitcher on the planet for, as it stands right now, one year of service. Names that have been thrown around in possible Mets packages are: Fernando Martinez (OF), Deolis Guerra (SP), Carlos Gomez (OF), Kevin Mulvey (SP), Philip Humber (SP), Mike Pelfry (SP), and Jose Reyes (but that ain't happening). Currently, those names involve the top 5 prospecs of the Mets according to topprospectalert.com, and Mike Pelfry, no longer applicable as a prospect, but still a young pitcher with a good amount of upside (not what it once was, though).

Now, all 6 of the prospects wouldn't be part of a deal, but as it stands right now, the offer the Mets have is Kevin Mulvey, Philip Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Carlos Gomez. That's a lot to give up, but assuming the Mets are able to sign Johan to a long-term deal, that's more than worth it. The key though, is them not wanting to part with Martinez, who the Twins want badly, but the Mets don't want to part with Gomez and Martinez. I first want to discuss the other prospects briefly.

Kevin Mulvey is a good pitching prospect who was chosen by the Mets with their first pick in teh 2006 draft out of Villanova. Mulvey throws 4 pitches for strikes, has a middle of the road fastball that'll peak around 94, and a good sinker that leaves him as a projected 3rd or 4th starter.

Philip Humber had a lot higher upside before surgery a few years ago, and since then has struggled. He was recently scouted when the Mets were in talks with the Orioles, and the scout was very unimpressed with him. It appears that he really no longer has the interest thathe once did, and isn't projected to be a frontline starter as he was earlier in his career, but he still is said to have one of the best curveballs in the system.

Deolis Guerra is a work in progress in the minor leagues, having a fastball with average velocity, and is monitored carefully to keep him healthy. The top pitching prospect in the system is moving his way up the ladder, and has an organizational goal set to go beyond the 100 inning mark this year. He's 18 years old.

Mike Pelfry, like Humber, has lost a lot of his upside, but remains a good pitching prospect because of the big frame and powerful sinker he throws. He needs to work on sticking with his sinker and not trying to strike out batter because that's not his game, a young mistake. He showed what he can do in short flashes of brilliance with the Mets late last season, consistency remains his problem.

Carlos Gomez was a fan-favorite in his major league stint last year before injury took him down. Speed is his game, playing a solid outfield with a good accutare arm to go along with being faster on the basepathes than Reyes, and is said to be a future power threat once he develops more. Gomez turned a few heads in his short major league sting, and remains a great prospect.

 

The Mets have to hang on to one of Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez to keep their farm somewhat intact.

 

Fernando Martinez is the top hitting prospect in the system, noted to be a future 30 homerun threat, and on the same path as many great players we've seen in the majors, such as Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Sammy Sosa, according to Baseball America.

There are plenty of combinations among these that the Twins would go for, all surrounding F-mart. A four player offer of Martinez, Gomez, Guerra, and Mulvey would be sure to get Santana in a Mets uniform, but that's too much, especially considering the dropoff in Pelfry and Humber. The Mets need to be strong and play the waiting game with the Twins. I strongly believe they won't keep Santana, especially considering the other offers on the table.

The only real difference between the Mets offers and those from the Red Sox and Yankees is the major-league ready talent. While most if not all of the Mets players need to be groomed for a few more years, the Red Sox and Yankees are offering major league ready talent, such as Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Philip Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and others. The Yankees and Red Sox are playing a similar game, not willing to part with 2 of their top 3 prospects in the same deal. As of now, the Mets are said to be in the lead for Santana, as their dea appears the most "intriguing" to the Twins. A big advantage of trading to the Mets is the league change, as the Twins wouldn't have to worry about facing Santana anytime soon.

Thw Twins need to pull the trigger soon. I think the best offers each team can give up without ruining them for years to come are as so:

Mets: Fernando Martinez, Deolis Guerra, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey: It's a lot, but they'd keep Gomez, and one of their young pitchers. The Twins refused this deal with Gomez instead of Martinez, so F-mart is the key, and I think this deal could get it done. If not, throw in Aaron Heilman. I'm surprised his name hasn't ocme up more in these discussions with the Twins. But I know of someone who could've been a good throw in to cement the deal...LASTINGS MILLEDGE!

 

 

Lastings Milledge was traded to the Nationals for C Brian Schneider and OF Ryan Church.

 

Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie (SS), Justin Masterson (SP), and another minor leaguer: The Twins like Ellsbury more than Lester, and Boston's wise refusal to include Ellsbury and Lester in the same deal is holding the trade up. The Red Sox offered this deal, or one with Lester and Coco Crisp to replace Ellsbury. I'm sure the majority of Sox fans would prefer to hang on to Ellsbury, but I don't see the 5 player deal the Red Sox offered without Ellsbury getting it done with what other teams have on the table. Also, if the Sox trade Ellsbury, they still have Ryan Kalish in the farm, a prospect who some believe has more upside than Jacoby.

 

The Twins reportedly prefer Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to the combination of Jon Lester and Coco Crisp.

 

Yankees: Philip Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Marquez, Humberto Sanchez: I know the Yankees and Twins have been in disagreement on the fourth player, but in all honesty, I can't see the Yankees getting Johan without including Hughes and Sanchez. If they included Kennedy, it would be a done deal, but that's a lot. Sanchez didn't even pitch last year, and this prospect still draws interest despite his prolonged minor league career. They have to keep Joba though, he impressed so much last season, can't part wth that. Although the Yanks are "out" of discussions, the Twins would probably jump on this deal.

 

Humberto Sanchez came to the Yanks from the Tigers in a deal for Gary Sheffield, and despite injury, still has huge upside.

 

All in all, I think the Mets end up with Santana, probably because of the league change. The NL is more winnable, and the Yankees probably need him a bit more than the Mets do. I see it this way, the Mets get a healthy Pedro, but the rotation still has questionmarks all around, and the Yankees are depending on the youth holding up for an entire season behind Andy Pettie and Chein Ming-Wang. In the end, I think the Mets pull the trigger and Santana goes to the National League, something the Twins would prefer, and something that would also be the second choice of the Yankees and Red Sox if they can't trade for him. And so, I'll reaffirm the title of this blog, for the New York Mets, between greatness in 2008, and possible mediocrity, stands 19 year old Fernando Martinez.

-Mat

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com