The Boston Red Sox have changed their way of thinking—sort of. They decided to build their team with pitching and defense this season.
The irony of course, is that with the Red Sox payroll they can afford to pay top tier pitchers, excellent fielders, oh, and those guys playing the field can also hit pretty well too.
A team—most teams—with a more moderate payroll might be able to concentrate on one facet of the game as a team strength, while chipping away and crossing their fingers the other two work out. Red Sox fans are fortunate to be in the high rent district of Major League Baseball. While the BoSox are off to a slow start in 2010, things will get better with a little patience.
The rotation is stocked full of quality guys. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka (just off the disabled list), and John Lackey are all excellent pitchers. The fifth spot will be manned by the young Clay Buchholz as long as he does his job or else it will be the old Tim Wakefield.
The bullpen is led by Jonathan Papelbon, one of the best closers in baseball. Promising youngster Daniel Bard is waiting in the wings. With pitching like that, you don’t really need a good defense, but it sure helps.
What really helps keep things rolling is a strong offense. Victor Martinez will slide between catcher, first base, and designated hitter while Kevin Youkilis moves across the diamond between first base and third base.
Adrian Beltre was brought in to man third base most of the time and Jacoby Ellsbury has taken his blazing speed to left field after the acquisition of Mike Cameron. J.D. Drew is back in right field when healthy and Dustin Pedroia is at second base while Marco Scutaro is the new shortstop.
With an offense like that, you can deal with having an aging David Ortiz at designated hitter and not worry too much that he’s not his old self.
Beltre, Pedroia, Scutaro, and Youkilis are all off to good starts and Jeremy Hermida is filling in well in the outfield. But David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury have all struggled this season and Cameron and Ellsbury are currently injured.
Victor Martinez is also struggling, but is expected to figure things out before too long. Captain Jason Varitek is catching a little more than planned heading into the season, but he’s swinging the bat well with four dingers in limited appearances.
This team is loaded with talent that will keep them involved in the World Series hunt well into October, assuming that they right the ship soon. The A.L. East is not a place you want to get too far behind in the division race, but there is too much talent here to struggle all season.