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2009 Record: 95-67, 2nd in AL East

Key Losses: Jason Bay-LF (free agent)

Key Additions: John Lackey-P (free agent); Adrian Beltre-3B (free agent); Mike Cameron-CF; Marco Scutaro-SS (free agent)

This is one of the fun things about having a blog with two authors-occasionally we write contradicting things.  Usually we agree about baseball related matters and predictions and most of what he has said this preseason, I have agreed with.

But I am going to disagree on one thing.  In his well written prediction of the Tampa Bay Rays season, he forecasts a 92-70, 3rd in the AL East finish.  I pretty much agree that on the record (I predict 94-68) but I actually see that record earning the Rays 2nd place in the AL East and the AL Wild Card.  That obviously leaves the Sox back in third place.

On paper, I love the Boston starting pitchers.  Josh Beckett has been a dominating pitcher year in and year out since 2003 and will serve as the team’s ace again in 2010.  Jon Lester and new addition John Lackey could be aces on 10 American League teams right now.  Tim Wakefield has had another decent spring and Clay Bucholz has proven to be a strong young pitcher.  The team also has Daisuke Matsuzaka starting the season on the disabled list and although he hasn’t been the dominating pitcher recently that he was when he broke into the league, I’d definitely take him as a 6th option for the rotation any day.

The bullpen was top 5 in MLB last season and they bring back most of their guys.  Jonathon Papelbon is the second-best closer in the AL, but he’s obnoxious and thinks a little too highly of himself.  Still, you don’t want to see him coming out of the bullpen when you’re down 1 run in the ninth.

What I don’t like about the team is their lack of offense.  It’s true that no team wins a championship without strong pitching but I think GM Theo Epstein has spent too much money and effort on starting pitching and not enough on bats.  It’s great if your pitchers can hold teams to 4 runs a game or less, but only if your team can score 6 or more a game and I don’t think this team has the bats to create 900 runs this season.  They hit 872 last season, but this is not last season’s lineup.

Most notably missing is Jason Bay, who was essentially ignored by the Boston front office in the off-season and signed with the NY Mets.  I like the first four guys in the lineup, but really no one else. Jacoby Ellsbury is “wicked” fast at the top of the lineup, Dustin Pedroia gets hits and gets on base, Victor Martinez had a .405 OBP in 56 games for the Sox last season and Kevin Youkilis is dangerous at the plate and can easily get 90 RBI.

Everyone else is kind of old and washed up.  David Ortiz is heading into his 14th big league season and probably his 4th or 5th without performance enhancing drugs.  He has degraded to a guy who hits 20 homers, but with a .250 batting average.  Mike Cameron is fast and traditionally has had a strong OBP, but he’s horrible at the plate (.250 BA last season).  I am also skeptical of guys who can’t latch on for more than two years with one team.

Adrian Beltre is still supposed to be in his peak at age 30, but at the end of the day, he’s a career .270 hitter.  JD Drew is inconsistent and possibly washed up.  Marco Scutaro is young and possibly still growing stronger as a hitter, but I think it might be hard to hit without anyone on base in front of you and two outs.

Still, this team is super dangerous.  If one or two of the old guys pull out a surprise season at the plate and Scutaro exceeds expectations, this team will have what it takes to win their 3rd championship in 7 years.  I just don’t think they can do it.

2010 Season Prediction: 89-73, 3rd in AL East

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Its evident now that the 2004 Red Sox Championship was achieved through the use of steroids.  We knew Manny Ramirez was a steroid user- he just came off a 50 game suspension earlier this month for testing positive.  Now, the New York Times in reporting that not only Ramirez, but also slugger David Ortiz tested positive for steroids in 2003.

The two men join Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez as 4 of the around 104 Major League Players who tested positive in 2003 – the year MLB was attempting to understand how big the steroid issue was at the time.  With 103 people testing positive, it meant that over 20% of Major League players were on ‘roids.  Many more probably were, but never tested positive due to the timing of the test.

Ortiz is a big name bcause he has said multiple times that he never used PED’s and in February 2009, said that someone who tests positive should be banned for a year.   When reached for comment, he said “I’m not talking about that anymore,” he said. “I have no comment.”

I’m sure this story is going to get bigger and bigger as the days go on.

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Shrek, I mean David Ortiz, spoke out yesterday, telling Joba Chamberlain to stop throwing at Red Sox hitters, expecially Kevin Youkilis, who was thrown at a couple of times last season.

“None of that, man — just play the game the way it’s supposed to be, and that’s about it,” Ortiz said, referring to Chamberlain.

“This is a guy, as good as he is, the next step for him will be to earn respect from everybody in the league. He’s not a bad guy, but when things like that happen, people get the wrong idea.”

In my opinion, Oritz needs to shut the f**k up.  After Pedro Martinez throwing at the heads of whoever he wanted to, followed by tossing Don Zimmer to the ground, every Yankee pitcher has the right to throw at the dome of any Red Sox player for the next 99 years.

If I’m Joba, the first pitch I throw to Ortiz is aimed at his fat gut.

Shrek, I mean David Ortiz, told Yahoo! Sports that A-Rod will suit up for the Dominican Republic in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.  This is a switch from the inaugural Classic in 2006 when Rodriguez played for the United States.   The Dominican team made it to the semifinals that year, while a star-studded US squad failed to make it out of group play.

Ortiz goes on to say later in the interview that he has not actually spoke to Rodriguez recently about his intentions but said that as far back as the all-star game in July, A-Rod had told Ortiz he intended to play for the DR.  Ortiz also feels that A-Rod will make the announcement at Ortiz’s charity golf tournament this weekend in Punta Cana, DR.  Ortiz himself may not play for the DR because of his surgically repaired left wrist.

A-Rod is a US citizen by birth, but does have the option to play for the Dominican.  WBC rules state that a player is allowed to play for the country where he holds citizenship or the country where his parents were born.  For example, Mike Piazza played for Italy in ’06 after the US did not offer him a spot on the roster.

The 2009 WBC is scheduled to begin on March 5 with first-round action in four venues: Tokyo, Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The championship game is scheduled for March 23 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

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