|Fantasy Take: The 2006 Red Sox|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 12, 2006
For the previous two seasons, the Red Sox lineup caused a lot of harm and pain to opposing pitchers. This year, the team brings an entirely new infield to their Ft. Myers spring training complex. Where does the fantasy talent come from for this version of the Boston Red Sox?
The Top Tier
OF Manny Ramirez – He’ll cause Red Sox fans some serious angst, but when he hits to the tune of .292/45/144 like he did last year, no one will care about Manny being Manny. Many mock drafts have him going fifth or sixth, but I wouldn’t be disappointed taking him third or fourth overall. In 2006, we will see another season similar to last year; there’s absolutely no reason to expect a drop off.
1B David Ortiz – Big Papi will give you a lot of big pops this year, hitting third in the Red Sox lineup, ahead of Manny Ramirez. Last season, the Red Sox DH hit 47 homers, drove in 148, and hit .300. We should expect numbers very similar -- or higher, if that’s even possible -- this year. He won’t fall out of the first round.
The Second Tier
CF Coco Crisp – The Red Sox desperately brought him over from the Indians in what could only be described as a highway robbery. The youngster hit .300 with sixteen bombs and 69 RBIs. Fair numbers for a leadoff hitter. While he won’t get on base too much (.345 clip last season, .332 for career), we should expect a lot of runs scored, 15-20 stolen bases, and a rise in his batting average. But the biggest thing is a lot of runs scored.2B Mark Loretta – Exchanged for only a backup catcher, Loretta has been one of the most valuable players at the Keystone position the past couple of seasons. He was bothered by a torn ligament in his right thumb, but still managed to hit .280 in over 400 ABs. If healthy, he’ll score a lot of runs and hit for a high average with these Red Sox.
C Jason Varitek – The Red Sox captain ranks as the second best fantasy catcher in baseball, behind only Victor Martinez. Draft him this year with expectations of .280/20/70, but nothing much more. He’s a fine player to have.
The Third Tier
SP Matt Clement – For the first half of the season, Clement pitched very well. However, everything took a turn for the worse, culminating with a ball off the head against the Devil Rays late in the season. Everyone is saying he’s fine, so we need to believe he’s all right. And when he’s all right, the right hander is good for 200 innings, fifteen or sixteen wins, 160 K’s, and a job well done.
SP David Wells – Big Boomer Wells has said that this season was going to be the last of his career. While I doubt that, I just thought I’d mention it. He won 15 games last year, and that was probably the only good thing he did. He allows hitters to put the ball in play too often to be a good strike out pitcher, so his only value will come in wins and low ERA/WHIP. If you draft him, expect a decent WHIP and a few wins, but you might be better off looking elsewhere.
SP Josh Beckett – We’ve all heard the story about the former Marlins’ right hander: great pitcher, electric stuff, and lots of blisters. As you’ve probably read before and will read again, if he’s healthy, he deserves nothing less than a second round draft pick. What should we expect from him next season? If he stays as healthy as he did in 2005, I’m betting on a 15-win season with 170-180 innings pitched, 170 K’s, and a 4.00 ERA. Anything worse in the health category will lead to even lesser stats.
RP Keith Foulke – He had surgery on both of his knees last year, which raises a little bit of a warning flag. For a pitcher that relies so much on repeating his delivery and a feel for his changeup, Foulke’s going to need a bit of time to get back into shape. Chances are that he’s good to go, but drafting Mike Timlin as a Plan B might be wise.
3B Mike Lowell – There’s no way around it: Mike Lowell ran into a brick wall last season. I don’t know if drug testing was the culprit or him pressing too hard or bad mechanics, but he just didn’t do too well. For much of his career, you could count on him hitting 25+ homers with 90+ RBIs. Are the Red Sox getting the good Lowell or the bad one?
SP Curt Schilling – If the Red Sox ace is on, he’s one of the best starters in the Major Leagues. However, there are serious questions revolving around his ankle. He says he’s healthy, but isn’t that what he said last spring training? Personally, I would take a gamble on him. As a side note, he’s adding two more pitches to his repertoire: a changeup and an inside fastball.