Baseball is finally here. While Spring Training can hold people off, many are fiending for the season to start. We're right there with you. We look forward to the brutal grind of the baseball season. The braintrust behind Ted's Army came together and put out expectations for our beloved Boston Red Sox and how they would fair in the 2013 campaign. Without further ado... I give you the third and final part of the Ted's Army season preview.
Who will be the “10th-man” of the year?
Tucker Silva: Brock Holt. He will most likely not begin the year with the club, but Holt will make is way to the majors in June (I base that on absolutely nothing). In 24 games with the Pirates, Holt made a little noise batting .292. He won’t have glaring stats with the Red Sox, but he’ll develop to be a bench guy Farrell can rely on.
Nick Karalis: Daniel Nava. If he sticks around the entire season, he will be a valuable asset with his newly acquired versatility to play the OF and 1B. He gives 110% every game and has the potential to put up some good offensive numbers.
Aaron Gettings: CIRIACO(!!!) Not only was he one of the only Sox players worth watching as last season was winding down, he had a knack for coming through in big spots. While the organization was crumbling around him, Ciraco showed heart, hustle, energy, and just a general sense of fun. Even in a reduced role, I see no reason Ciraco can't have a major impact on this Sox squad.
Ben Fountain: I have to agree with Aaron and say Pedro Ciriaco. He can play anywhere on the left side of the infield, and if we're desperate in the outfield. Busts his ass and became one of the more likable players last season. If he continues to play the way he did last year, he'll be incredibly valuble to this team.
Scott Priest: I'm contractually obligated to say Jose Iglesias, who should be the starting shortstop anyway. If Drew's concussions linger (and given how unpredictable concussions can be, I think we should assume they will), or if Pedroia gets hurt (as he seems to every year), I think we'll see Iglesias contribute positively to this team.
Or Pedro Martinez, if Rubby is tearing up the minors.
Who will be the team’s HR leader by season’s end?
Tucker: Will Middlebrooks. A wrist injury halted Middlebrooks tremendous rookie season, blasting 15 HR in 75 games. By hopefully avoiding the feared “sophomore slump”, Middlebrooks and the Green Monster will be BFF’s. Prediction: 32 HRs
Nick: Jarrod Saltalamacchia. We can’t count on the health of Ellsbury, Ortiz, or Napoli, so the next guy in line would be Salty. He will probably lead the team in homers and strikeouts…if he doesn’t get traded first.
Aaron: It feels weird saying it could be anyone other than David Ortiz, but I just don't trust those wheels. Have to give the nod to Mike Napoli. He should be fun to watch.
Ben: I'm taking David Ortiz. Even with the Achilles injury limiting him to 90 games last year, he nearly the led the team with 23 homers. He'll be on the DL starting the season but in three of the past four seasons, he got off to a slow start. I'll be optimistic and project that he'll be in the lineup by the end of April and not have any setbacks, which could be asking a bit much from the 37 year old. If all that does come to fruition, he'll be in the 28-34 home run range.
Scott: Mike Napoli. I don't think Ortiz will play enough, and I don't think Ellsbury will ever hit more than 15 again.
Tucker: Jon Lester. Yes, he’s the “ace” of the staff. But I think that’s by default, especially after last year’s debacle. With Beckett gone, Farrell will right the ship and bring Lester back to his true ace days.
Nick: Jon Lester. Lester has had an excellent spring and will return to old form this season. He’ll cement his status as Ace.
Aaron: Jon Lester. The only guy in the rotation who is a lock for 200+ innings.
Ben: Jon Lester. He's looked great this spring and if this team wants to have any shot at grabbing a Wild Card spot, they need Lester to be out there every fifth day.
Scott: Jon Lester.
Which prospect from the minors will immediately help the big league club?
Tucker: Allen Webster: Webster, one of the top prospects acquired in the LA Dodgers mega-deal, can throw straight heat. He has 14 K’s in 11 innings with a 1.64 ERA in Spring Training. The 23-year-old won’t be down in the minors long. Look for him to get the call early and be a solid contributor to the Red Sox bullpen.
Nick: Jackie Bradley Jr. I think we can all agree Bradley will make a splash if called up this season or makes the roster to start the season.
Aaron: The rest of you can have Jackie Bradley Jr., I'm taking Jose Iglesias. Stephen Drew may be over his concussion in time to start the season, but he'll succumb to some other malady in the meantime. Jose will be there in the dugout, glove on, ready to take over. Only this time, for the first time, he's swinging a hot bat.
Ben: As much as I love Jose, I'll gladly take Jackie Bradley Jr. He's proven that he can live up to the hype. It's going to be fun to watch him play this season.
Scott: It's hard not to answer this with Jackie Bradley Jr.
Over/Under 84 Wins for the Red Sox.
Tucker: Over: But not by much…I got them for 88 wins in 2013. This is a completely different team. I firmly believe good character guys can win you more games, which is what we’ll witness during this ride.
Nick: Over – I don’t know why I have so much confidence in this team this season. I believe they can break the 90 win mark and end up in the low 90s in wins.
Aaron: Over. The Sox are going to field a competitive team this year. We don't need to worry about the batters and Farrell seems to have the pitching back on track.
Ben: Over. I have the Sox pegged at 87 wins for them this season. I like the group of guys this team has and think they can do some damage.
Scott: Under, but just slightly.
What are your predictions for the final AL East standings?
Tucker: Tampa Bay, Boston, Baltimore, New York, Toronto
Nick: Toronto, Boston, New York, Baltimore, Tampa Bay
Aaron: Tampa 91-71
New York 3-159
Ben: Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto, New York, Baltimore
Scott: Tampa, New York, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore
Will the Red Sox make the playoffs?
Tucker: Yes. As I stated earlier, character will carry this team. We’ll see a lot of come from behind wins, which will get the fan base stirring. Also, this starting rotation will turn some heads. We may have three potential 200+ inning pitchers (Lester, Dempster, Buchholz). Lackey will be right there too.
Nick: Yes. Sox pitching is looking good this spring and it is giving me an optimistic outlook on the 2013 season. I think they have a good chance to come out with the wild card.
Aaron: No. No they will not. But they will put a much better product on the field this season, win a handful more games, and should start sprinkling in the younger guys as they build towards the future. I don't see the playoffs, but I don't see 5 months of misery either.
Ben: Yes. It won't be easy now that the AL West has a punching bag in the Houston Astros but they'll definitely be in contention for one of those Wild Card spots.
Scott: No, but I think they'll be close enough that they won't be sellers at the deadline.