Top Five Stories of the Red Sox Season (to date)
Fantasy Baseball Generals asked me to provide the top five stories of the Red Sox season. Without further ado, here are my top five stories.
1. Manny Ramirez - How could anything be bigger? I suppose if we waited until the end of the year and had the same outcome as the last time they traded a superstar (Nomar), it would be bigger, but Manny was the story this year. Manny being Manny got old. Sure, he can mash with the best of them, but when he starting shoving personnel around and not giving it all, he had to go. It’s hard to part ways with the #5 HR hitter, #6 RBI producer, and #9 Batting Average holder in team history despite only playing in 1083 games for the Sox. In the end the petulant star wore out his welcome. So far so good for his replacement Jason Bay. After 23 games he’s hitting .347 with 22 Runs, 10 extra-base Hits, and 24 RBI
2. Chasing the Rays - I know, this isn’t exactly a Red Sox story as much as it’s a Rays story, but you cannot mention the Red Sox season to date and overlook the Tampa Bay Rays. I didn’t imagine the Red Sox not being in first place for the majority of the season. However, if I had two guesses as who would unseat the defending AL East Champs, I would have guessed New York and then Toronto. By no means did I envision a Worst-to-First run for the Rays. The Red Sox still have 30 games remaining and are sitting at 3.5 back so I’m not ready to hand over the division title just yet, but for Tampa to take First Place into September is impressive. Even though I am a Red Sox fan, I am happy for baseball for this surprise.
3. Injuries – Papi, Lowell, Drew, Beckett, Dice-K…the list goes on. Every team deals with injuries, but this year it seems the Red Sox have been asked to swallow more than in years past. What amazes me is the Red Sox sit with the fourth best record in baseball despite sub-par seasons from Big Papi (.267, 17 HR, 65) and Josh Beckett (11-9, 4.34 ERA). When you consider the Red Sox two best offensive forces have either missed 50 games or have been traded and their top Pitcher has been highly ineffective, you have to have admiration for the rest of the Red Sox scrappers.
4. Youth is Served – The Red Sox avoided the temptation of depleting their farm system to acquire Johan Santana to start the season. Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make. Jon Lester has rewarded them with a 12-5, 3.49 performance to date. They have also got strong play from SS/3B Jed Lowrie. He’s hitting .299 with 19 Runs, 16 Doubles, and 32 RBI in 53 games. Defending Rookie of the Year Dustin Pedroia has avoided the Sophomore Slump by hitting .316 with 101 Runs, 173 Hits, 40 Doubles, and 68 RBI. Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t hitting a strong clip at .262, but he’s scored 74 Runs and terrorized the basepaths to the tune of 41 Stolen Bases.
5. Tito – I would be remiss to discuss the 2008 Red Sox and not mention Terry Francona. The skipper has not only guided the Red Sox through the injuries and distractions to one of the best records in baseball, but he has displayed some amazing class along the way. The way he handled the All Star Game in Yankee Stadium was a perfect example of that class. He treated the stadium, the fans, and the players with the dignity that comes with sharing the same Pinstripes as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and countless others. He let Derek Jeter hit in his customary #2 spot. He made a defensive switch for A-Rod so he could receive a standing ovation (where was that this week). He saved Mariano Rivera for his Closer. The moves he made just oozed class.
There you have it. For the top stories for the rest of MLB, swing over to Fantasy Baseball Generals.