Monday, March 10, 2008

2008 Boston Red Sox Fantasy Team Preview

The Red Sox are the defending World Series champions. We look at them position by position to see how they stack up in the upcoming 2008 season and what their roster has to offer fantasy owners.

Projected Lineup

CF- Jacoby Ellsbury/Coco Crisp (for now)
2B- Dustin Pedroia
DH- David Ortiz
LF- Manny Ramirez
3B- Mike Lowell
1B- Kevin Youkilis
RF- J.D. Drew
C- Jason Variek
SS- Julio Lugo

Starting Pitchers

Ace- Josh Beckett
#2- Daisuke Matsuzaka
#3- Tim Wakefield
#4- Jon Lester
#5- Clay Buchholz
On the mend- Bartolo Colon


Closer- Jonathan Papelbon
Setup- Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen
Middle Relief- Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez, Javier Lopez, Kyle Snyder, David Aardsma

Hitters to Draft

David Ortiz- Four players in all of baseball have averaged 40HR with 100RBI and 100R over the last three seasons. They are Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn and David Ortiz. Ortiz had what some would call a down season last year, and still was one of the best all around fantasy players in the game. The fact he is limited as being listed as only a DH in many leagues should not bother you at all when it comes to drafting him. He is just that good.

Manny Ramirez- Contract year. Expect him to actually play hard the entire season and that reoccurring knee injury to not flare up again this year. 35HR, 120RBI, .300AVG, if he feels like.

Mike Lowell- Mike Lowell has had more comebacks than Meatloaf. Every so often he looks finished and goes on to have a career season the next year. Last season Lowell hit .320AVG, with 21HR, and 120RBI. Don't expect number that good in 2008, but he should still be good for .280AVG with 90RBI, at worst. He is the type of player who is tailor made for that wall out in left, and that should keep him from ever falling into becoming an unproductive player.

Kevin Youkilis- I am not sure that Youkilis ever developed in the player that Boston thought he was going be, but he is still a useful player to have around on a fantasy team. He isn't an elite 1B, in fact he probably isn't in that second tier of 1B either. But he is still a dependable bat, and should be good for a .280AVG with 80RBI and 15HR. Numbers more indicative of a middle infielder, not a 1B. If your league counts OBP, he will be a bit more valuable, as few players are tougher at the plate than Youkilis, at grinding out at bats and taking walks.

Dustin Pedroia- Credit Boston with sticking with the young 2B until he was able to find himself a groove and turn it on. To be honest, looking at the numbers Pedroia is not a guy I would go out of my way to draft, but if he is around and you don't have a 2B he is a decent option. Pedroia does not hit for a ton of power or steal many bases, but he does hit for AVG and will score plenty of runs at the top of the Sox line up. He isn't a bad player, just don't overrate him come draft time.

Pitchers To Draft

Josh Beckett- Won 20 games and showed tremendous growth in his second season in the American League. He has proven himself to be one of the best in the game and is an ace workhorse for any reality for fantasy team.

Jonathan Papelbon- Best closer in the game. Look for him to continue his 9th inning dominance, and finish with around 40 saves, and ERA near 2.00, and plenty more Ks than IP.

Daisuke Matsuzaka- By many accounts Dice-K struggles through his first season in the Major Leagues and has been down graded on draft boards because of it. By my account many of those people are morons. In his first season in the majors he had 15W to go along with over 200IP and 201Ks. To compare, Dice-K finished with more Ks and IP than Josh Beckett. If his name wasn't Dice-K and he didn't come with all the fan fair people would be calling him the next coming of Roger Clemens. Look for Dice-K to continue to make adjustments, and become even more successful this season. 20W and 22Ks are not out of the question at all.

Tim Wakefield- Love veteran knuckleballers. Wakefield battled injury toward the end of last season and still managed to win 17 games. The wins were probably more of an aberration than they were the norm, but if he is as healthy as he claims to be Wakefield can win 15 games, given the potent Boston offense. Don't expect great ERA or K totals, but there something that can be said for consistency.

Players to Avoid

Bartolo Colon- I really couldn't think of anyone else to put here, this team is full of fine fantasy options. Colon could make the team out of spring training and win 10+ games if he is healthy all season. However I have serious doubts he will be healthy and even if he is healthy I doubt his stuff is still there to be able to do it consistently get Major League hitters out.


Jacoby Ellsbury- Not really a sleeper because every knows who he is. Ellsbury thrived in his 116 at bats last season, hitting 3HR, with 18RBI, 20R, 9SB and a .353AVG. With every word Coco Crisp saying being over analyzed and dissected it looks like he may be traded out of Boston sooner rather than later with the full-time CF job going to Ellsbury.

Julio Lugo- SS signed a big money contract before the 2007 season and struggled mightily the first half of the season. Lugo did manage to hit .280AVG in the second half last season, and aside from AVG posted solid numbers for a SS. He hit 8HR (not great), but had 73RBI, 71R and 33SB. Lugo really bottomed out last season, so expect better numbers in 2008, especially hitting in a potent Red Sox lineup. He is a GREAT sleeper candidate who will go much later than he should in a draft. He is going to be a top 10 SS at season's end, and probably will around later then he should.

Jon Lester/Clay Buchholz - Two young pitchers with great stuff that could end up being the 4 and 5 starters on a strong Boston club with Schilling out until the mid-season. They should get favorable matchups pitching out of the back-end of the rotation and will get plenty of run support from a potent Boston lineup. Keep an eye on them during spring training.

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