2014 American League East Preview: Boston Red Sox

We’re now less than a week away from opening day of the 2014 baseball season (while that whole thing in Australia was fun, I’m not considering it the “real” opening day).  As we count down the remaining days of spring training this week, Orioles Proving Ground will be asking some of our friends to answer somewhat important questions about the Orioles American League East foes.

Today, Ben Feeney takes some time to answer some questions about the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, which somehow includes a Wizard of Oz comparison.  Below are links to the teams we’ve already looked at.

Tampa Bay Rays | New York Yankees | Toronto Blue Jays | Boston Red Sox

Orioles Proving Ground: The Red Sox went from worst (in 2012) to first (2013), winning the World Series last year, and no one saw it coming.  In fact, I remember a comment you made on my very first blog post in March of 2013 that stated that the Red Sox will be “non-existent” in 2013.  What do you think was the biggest reason for their turn-around?

Ben Feeney: So you want to know how a team such as the Red Sox goes from worst (2012) to first (2013) right??   Well, maybe I have the answer written down in a small envelope concealed in a safe, hidden in the deep dark cavern beneath my house.  And you would have to assume it is being guarded by the Sloth character from the Goonies!   Listen Friend, if I had the answer to that riddle I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this response.  I’d be rich and important…both of which I am currently lacking.  The way I see it there were several factors that contributed to their success and I will give each factor a percentage based on it’s respective influence.

TEAM CHEMISTRY- 50% – This team reminded me of the 2004 squad.  Each player had his own personality and identity.  If you can be allowed to be the raw version of yourself while working…win/win.   JOHN FARRELL-25% – Finally they brought in a manager with similar mannerisms to Terry Francona.  Valentine’s strong-arm tactics and feuds with players backfired, end of story. Farrell trusted this group and rarely changed the line up during post-season play, most notably when hitting slumps were felt by more than a few.   All of the players contributed to filling in the “gaps” when fellow teammates struggled. 2012 OFF SEASON CHANGES TO PERSONEL & LUCK 15% & 10% – Honestly, I questioned some of the salary dumps in the off-season.  I will not question upper management further (until next season of course). They are good at what they do, period.  Still, even those Add-Wizards could not have predicted this outcome and luck plays a part and takes her cut.   THE BEARDS-100% per whisker!!!!!

OPG: Jacoby Ellsbury helped lead the Red Sox to 2 World Series victories (2007 and 2013).  This offseason he signed with the Yankees for a lot of money.  I’m assuming that at least one woman in your life (girlfriend, mom, friend, etc.) owns a pink Ellsbury jersey (or shirsey).  How did they desicrate it after he signed with the Evil Empire?

BF: Nate, when you cut, you cut deep.   As you know, we Sox fans hate to see anyone go to the Yankees (#Evil Empire).  I can’t blame the guy for going though. He got a major payday and in my opinion was overvalued.   Don’t get me wrong, I have a man crush on Ellsbury but he is an injury risk and I think the Yankees overpaid on this one.  Oh…who am I kidding….sorry Ellsbury, the man crush is over and I will root for you to break your pelvis….hugs and kisses!

OPG: Despite winning the World Series, the Red Sox lost a lot of key contributors from last year’s team.  Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Dempster have left (or won’t be coming back), while A.J. Pierzynski, Edward Mujica, and Chris Capuano were added.  Did you like how they handled the offseason and how do you like their chances heading into 2014?

BF: Yes, we lost a lot of big names this year but I trust that Ben Cherington has a specific plan for every move he makes.   It’s important to view the team strategy at sky level and not from the street. What knots need to be undone?    Cherington has shored up his pitching staff and bullpen by bringing in relievers (Burke Badenhop; Edward Mujica) who dominate right-handed hitters.   The Sox got desperate when the catcher position dried out and signed Pierzynski for only one year.  They paid him a lot of money but catcher is a crucial position and it was valued properly.  The one decision I question is the resigning of Mike Napoli.  My gut tells me he is not worth 32 million for two years.   I hope his degenerative hip holds out for those seasons.

OPG: Top prospect Xander Bogaerts (rated #2 overall by Baseball Prospectus this offseason) is expected to be the team’s starting shortstop on opening day.  Can you tell me one baseball player (in the minor or major leagues) that has a cooler name than Xander Bogaerts?

BF: I absolutely Love Love Love….Xander Bogaerts.   There are very few athletes that come into the majors in any sport for that matter and just make the game look easy.   The guy won a world series ring in his first year in the majors!…what???   This man is gifted and you notice that the instant you see him.   He can play just about any position and probably could sell more Cracker Jacks and Fenway Franks than the leading vendor.  He is a superhero and I shall name him Mr. X.

OPG: The Red Sox have now won 3 World Series titles in the last decade.  Seeing as how Red Sox fans have been to the mountain top more than any other team during that time, how ashamed is the fan base for their consistent whining between 1918 and 2004?

BF: I sense some jealousy in this question Nate.   Hey, I grew up in a small town in northern Maine.  I remember what it was like pre-2004.   My father and my grandfather and all of our relatives are sox fans.  We ENJOYED the bitching and to tell you the truth I kind of miss that.  It’s sort of like “The Wizard of Oz”.  Remember the man behind the curtain and how disappointed Dorothy was when it was revealed that the great and powerful Oz was just a tired old man?  Well that’s kind of what it was like from1918 thru 2004.  The fact that we couldn’t win a title became a myth and you know what?   We secretly ENJOYED having a story and having something to call our own even if that something is misery and bitching every year that we lose.   Nothing beats a good story.    Boston is a city with great history.  It was built by hard working immigrants.  This city is accustomed to being the underdog.  Case in point – (Lexington & Concord & the Revolution).    This “Myth” of “The Curse” became a catalyst for commonality among New Englanders and Red Sox Fans.   Some of my fondest memories are of my father taking me to Fenway Park and discussing the soap opera that was “The Curse” and the rich history behind the story.   Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the 2004 World Series with everyone else.  I partied long and hard the night we won, but sometimes I wonder if the title isn’t just the man behind the curtain and not the great and powerful Oz it was supposed to be?……screw that…the title kicks ass…forget everything I just said!

OPG: Prediction?

BF: 90 wins, 2nd place in AL East

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: