In 2008 the Red Sox finished third in runs scored (with 845, behind Texas and the Cubs) despite an off year from David Ortiz, the trade of Manny Ramirez, and virtually no production from the catcher position. True, the Sox had Ramirez for the first four months of the season, and his replacement in left field, Jason Bay, was solid, but Boston was able to maintain the offensive excellence it has displayed for most of this decade because of patience (the Red Sox led the majors in walks) and depth.
So at your upcoming baseball draft, it wonít be a bad idea to keep a bunch of Red Sox on your radar. Ramirez and his big numbers are long gone, but an interesting mix of position players remains. Bostonís pitching staff/bullpen is also loaded with fantasy-worthy selections, but for now, letís consider the batters. Hereís a primer on the lineup and what each player should mean to you on draft day.
Catcher Donít bother. Jason Varitek is the starter, and Josh Bard is the backup. Varitek was certainly fantasy material up until a few years ago, but those days are over. Donít waste a pick on either player until the season starts and we find out who has earned the bulk of the playing time.
1B After he finished third in the MVP voting, it will be interesting to see how high Kevin Youkilis gets picked. A first-round selection is out of the question, but if you can sign up again for 29 bombs, 115 RBI, 43 doubles, and a .390 OBP, you could do a lot worse in the second round.FULL ENTRY
Aside from the adult beverages, banter, and food, fantasy baseball drafts are like the SAT ó long and challenging. No matter if youíre acquiring players through a straight draft or an auction, itís a mind-bender of an exercise because you have so many roster spots to fill: around 25, give or take a few.
The first two rounds move quickly because everyone knows the top guys. Pujols. Utley. A-Rod. Crisp (just making sure youíre following along). But then the real work kicks in when the draft moves into the middle and later rounds and you start having to make decisions between guys like, well, Coco Crisp (playing every day this year) and Delmon Young (thus far, a singles hitter).
Weíre here to help. The following is a roster made up of players who arenít unknowns but arenít stars, either. Theyíll be worthwhile picks as your draft moves toward the middle rounds.
Benjie Molina, C, San Francisco
The Giants' offense was terrible last year, but Molina delivered more than expected as the team's cleanup hitter, finishing with 16 homers, 95 runs batted in (tops among all catchers), and 33 doubles.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego
Gonzalez strikes out a ton (142 times last season), but even in a pitcher's park with mediocre hitters around him, he still cranked 36 home runs and drove in 119.
Jose Lopez, 2B, Seattle
Lopez won't help you with on-base percentage (only .303 for his career), but he does have 38 homers and 220 RBI over the last three years and cranked 41 doubles last season. Plate discipline is what separates the elite second basemen from Lopez, but he's only 24.
Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City
Gordon struggles mightily against lefties but had a respectable OBP (.351) for a young player still trying to figure out major league pitching. If you take a chance on Gordon's potential, you'll have to cover yourself later in your draft with a backup plan such as Melvin Mora.FULL ENTRY
OT beat writersMaureen Mullen brings you Red Sox information and insights.
Tom Wilcox covers the Patriots.
Scott Souza is all over the Celtics.
Danny Picard is on the ice with the Bruins.
Mike McDonald takes a look at the humorous side of Boston sports