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Ladies of Cambridge: A Boston Red Sox Preview

Dates we play them: 8/24-8/27 @ Boston, 9/4-9/7 at home

Offense: A potential line-up: Jacoby Ellsbury-CF, Dustin Pedroia-2B, Victor Martinez-C, Kevin Youkilis-1B, Jason Bay-LF, David Ortiz-DH, Mike Lowell-3B, J.D. Drew-RF, Alex Gonzalez-SS  Bench: Jason Varitek-C, Casey Kotchman-1B, Nick Green-UTIL

Boy, this season has really started to slip away from the Carmines as they've played .471 ball since the ASB.  They still lead the Wild Card race, their odds of making the playoffs are dropping by the day.   Jacoby Ellsbury has actually been worth less this season than last, though you wouldn't think so by looking at his hitting stats.  His cut his K% and he steals more efficiently than most people that pass the 50 steal mark.  The problem has been his defense.  He's been atrocious in the field this season, dropping him to below 1.0 WAR.  And he makes bad investments to boot.  Dustin Pedroia's production has been down too, but he's still been worth 4.3 WAR.  He isn't stealing as efficiently, but he is still getting on base, cranking out doubles, and playing above-average defense.  Victor Martinez has been raking since getting out of Cleveland.  The 1B/C/DH has posted an OPS+ of 143 with 5 homers in 20 games.  He will cool off eventually, so maybe we get to be the team to do it to him.  When did Kevin Youkilis turn 30?  I'm starting to feel old.  Anyways, the man who used to have the funniest baseball-reference URL(first five letters of his last name and then the first two of his first) just recently got back from a suspension for getting his ass handed to him by Rick Porcello.  He's only had one good game since getting back, but his track record shows that he'll figure it out soon.

Jason Bay is getting to the point where he shouldn't be allowed to field.  If he were even just an average fielder, he would be worth about 3.5 WAR right now, but because he's being the Canadian-Jermaine Dye he's only worth 1.7.  That being said, his bat is still very dangerous and he picks great times to steal.  The "lovable" juicer, Big Papi, is having the worst season of his career.  This could be due to going off the roids, or something else entirely.  Either way, he has been exactly replacement level, which is not what you want from your full-time, double-digit millions DH.  He isn't even the hitter he was in Minnesota anymore.  Mike Lowell is nearing the end of his career.  He'll be 36 next season and in the final year of his contract.  His bat is still slightly above-average, but his defense is slipping and he is becoming an injury concern.  Speaking of injury concerns, Glass J.D. Drew is quietly having a very good season.  Not too many teams would be upset with 3.0 WAR from their eight-hole hitter, though he is being payed $14 mil to do so.  The fact that the Red Sox went out and got Alex Gonzalez to play short shows how bad they've been at the position all season.  Gonzalez still brings solid defense to the table, but his bat is completely gone and playing him actually may hurt the team.

Pitching: A potential rotation and closer: Josh Beckett-RHP, Jon Lester-LHP, Brad Penny-RHP, Clay Buchholz-RHP, Junichi Tazawa-RHP and Jonathan Papelbon-RHP

Josh Beckett is a fastball/curveball pitcher and a very good one at that.  He still reaches the mid-90s and has been one of the 15 most valuable pitchers in the AL this season.  The lone southpaw in the rotation, Jon Lester has been even better than Beckett.  Lester throws a fastball, a cutter, a curve, and occasionally a changeup.  This season he is beating AL hitters like he beat cancer, to the tune of 10.12 K/9.  Brad Penny is back-of-the-rotation fodder that had to be moved up due to injuries.  He is no longer the pitcher he used to be, but has still been worth 2.1 WAR this season.  Clay Buchholz has not been the same pitcher since his rookie year no-hitter.  His K/9 is plummeting, yet his BB/9 is stagnant.  The kid needs to figure something out, or his career may be ending early.  There isn't much on Tazawa, as he's only thrown 17 innings in the bigs.  He throws a high-80s fastball, a curve, and a splitter.  But we've never seen him before, so we're doomed.  Papelbon is having a rough year for him.  He's already walked six more hitters than he ever has and is striking out less too.  This could be flukey, but it could also be the start of the AL figuring him out.  Neither outcome is that great for Boston.

Outlook: This won't be deep as I'm running late to class (sorry for the lack of links of humor, I busted both wrists this weekend, so typing isn't too easy right now).  I say we take the season series 5-3.