This year's Red Sox team is completely different than last years in terms of success. Matthew Collins of Over the Monster answered some questions about Boston's 2013 season for TBLA. Here are his answers:
DAVID: As of right now, who would the Red Sox MVP be?
MATTHEW: Picking an MVP for the Red Sox this season is an extremely difficult task, since their success has been based on having tremendous depth and receiving contributions from everyone on the roster. If I had to choose someone, I would probably go with David Ortiz, even though he doesn’t play the field. He’s been far and away the best bat in the lineup, hitting .323/.404/.581 (160 wRC+) this season. While there has been solid hitting from everyone in the lineup this year, Ortiz is really the only player who has provided consistent power from this team,. Right behind Ortiz in this race is probably Jacoby Ellsbury, who has provided more of an all-around game. He’s been very good at the plate, hitting .296/.356/.423 (110 wRC+), as well as providing big value in center field and on the base paths.
DAVID: What about Cy Young?
MATTHEW: As for Cy Young, if he had remained healthy, the clear choice would have been Clay Buchholz, but he’s been out since June, so it can’t be him. Here, I’ll give the edge to John Lackey, who has started 22 games this year, 3.22 ERA with a 3.32 FIP and a 124/32 K/BB ratio. His 8-10 record isn’t pretty, but that’s more on his lack of run support than anything else. One could also make an argument for Koji Uehara, who has been nothing short of incredible out of the bullpen this season.
DAVID: Continuing with awards, who would be the Red Sox Rookie of the Year right now? It can be a player that just missed the cutoff too.
MATTHEW: The only real candidate for Rookie of the Year this season isn’t even on the team anymore. Jose Iglesias surprised everyone offensively this season, hitting .360/.376/.409 with the Red Sox. He was always known for having one of the best gloves in all of baseball at shortstop, which he showed at the big league level, too. His bat was always a question, though, but he hit very well in his time with the team this year. The question, however, was always how sustainable that success would be, given his .376 batting average on balls in play, and his general propensity for infield singles.
DAVID: That’s rough. But at least you got a solid pitcher in return. What about Brandon Workman? He’s been pretty solid.
MATTHEW: If we’re only talking about players who are still with the team, I guess I’d go with Brandon Workman, who was called up in July and has worked as a starter and a reliever. He was extremely impressive in his three starts until Peavy came in, and is now working as a utility-reliever of sorts, coming in for both late-inning situations as well as multi-inning situations.
DAVID: Last August, the Dodgers and Red Sox completed one of the biggest trades in MLB history. Did you like it at the time? Why or why not? Do you like it now? Why or why not?
MATTHEW: I loved the Nick Punto trade at the time, and I love it now.
DAVID: I will never understand why people like to call it that. I prefer the James Loney trade.
MATTHEW: As much as I’ll always miss Adrian Gonzalez, who was one of my favorite players to watch, the amount of money Boston saved by making this deal was too good to pass up. I probably would have been okay with this trade even if there was just a mediocre prospect coming back, but for (Ben) Cherington to also get Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa in that trade was incredible.
DAVID: I have to admit it was tough to watch those two guys leave, especially when word spread that Josh Beckett would miss most of this season.
MATTHEW: The Red Sox now find themselves with one of the best and deepest farm systems in baseball, and those two guys are a big part of it. Adding that to ridding themselves of all the money - essentially allowing them to hit the reset money - was the best thing that could’ve happened for the franchise.
DAVID: Did you expect Boston to bounce back like they have this season and be in first place most of the year?
MATTHEW: I did expect the Red Sox to bounce-back from their putrid 2012 season, but I never expected it to be like this. Before the season started, I had them pegged for about 81-84 wins, competing for that second wild card all season, but falling just short. So much has gone right for this team up and down the roster that was hard to see coming. Iglesias was a big part of the lineup early on, Daniel Nava has been one of the biggest surprises in the game, John Lackey has been the team’s best pitcher after being the worst pitcher in baseball in 2011. While I disagree with some of the in-game decisions that John Farrell makes, he is definitely the perfect guy for this clubhouse, especially when you consider just how much of a disaster Bobby Valentine was a year ago. It remains to be seen how this season ends, but so far, it’s been a pleasant surprise for sure.
DAVID: The Dodgers traded for Shane Victorino last year and now he's playing for the Red Sox (after signing with them in the offseason). Did you think that was a smart signing for Boston? Why or why not?
MATTHEW: I did like the Shane Victorino signing this winter, and I like it even more after what he’s given the Red Sox this year.
DAVID: To be honest, I was confused when they signed him. If Carl Crawford didn’t go to LA in that big trade last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if Victorino was on the Dodgers right now.
MATTHEW: At the time, many people around the internet felt this was one of the worst contracts given out this offseason, but Victorino has gone out to prove everyone wrong. He’s been fine at the plate, hitting .285/.336/.408 (102 wRC+), but his real value has come elsewhere. Defensively, he’s been nothing short of outstanding. Fenway’s right field is arguably the hardest to play in the league, with strange bounces all over the place and a huge area of land to cover. Victorino has handled that with ease. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by his big arm, and his good baserunning. The argument could very well be made that he has been the best defensive right fielder in all of baseball this year. In addition to this year’s success, he also gives the team options moving forward. If they do intend to let Jacoby Ellsbury this winter, Victorino is a nice backup plan in center field if prospect Jackie Bradley doesn’t jump into the starting lineup in the way that we all expect him to.
DAVID: The biggest move (and really the only one) the Red Sox made at the trade deadline was trading for Jake Peavy. Good or bad move for Boston?
MATTHEW: Great move for the Red Sox. Clay Buchholz’s health is a major problem for this team going forward, and Ben Cherington had to do something to solidify any potential playoff rotation. Now, with Buchholz likely coming back at some point in the next couple of weeks, they can get Ryan Dempster, who has struggled mightily recently, out of the rotation and head down the stretch with a very formidable rotation of Buchholz, Peavy, Doubront, Lester and Lackey. I loved watching Iglesias play, but being able to give up a fringe-starting-caliber player for a year and a half of Peavy is a great deal for this team, especially when you consider what Texas had to give up for renting Matt Garza.
DAVID: When you compare it to the Garza deal, Boston won the lottery. The Red Sox gave up a solid shortstop prospect in Iglesias. The Cubs gave up multiple prospects that are just as good, equally as good, or better than Iglesias. And in the end, Boston didn’t really need him right?
MATTHEW: It’s not like they are now pressing for production at shortstop, either, with Stephen Drew in the starting lineup and super-prospect Xander Bogaerts getting some time there too.
DAVID: Do you think the Red Sox should have done more at the deadline overall? Why or why not? Should they try and make any waiver deals this month?
MATTHEW: I do wish they made one more move. Through the entire month of July, I really wanted the Red Sox to go after a reliever for the back-end of the bullpen.
DAVID: Haha I was just about to say that I was very surprised they didn’t trade for a reliever. Especially seeing as Uehara wasn’t their first or second choice to close at the start of the year.
MATTHEW: Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa are fine as the top-two guys in the pen, but I feel like they could still use one more arm back there to solidify the end of games. My ideal candidate was Francisco Rodriguez, but he was swiped up by Baltimore near the deadline. I don’t think the lack of a move here will necessarily doom them moving forward through the rest of the year, but I do think that adding one more seventh inning-type pitcher could be a huge step forward for the roster.
DAVID: How far do you think Boston can go this October (if they make it)? Do you think they have what it takes to win it all?
MATTHEW: I don’t really see any reason to believe the Red Sox can’t win it all this season, if they do make it to October.
DAVID: Especially after 2004, I would never count out Boston as a whole. Even when the 2004 team was way different than this year’s.
MATTHEW: I wouldn’t necessarily say they are the best team in the American League, that is a distinction I would give to Detroit, but the very nature of the MLB playoffs make it a crapshoot. If Buchholz can come back and pitch anywhere near the level he was at before he went down a few months ago, then a playoff rotation of him, Lackey, Peavy and Lester to go along with their offense should be good enough to give the Red Sox a chance against any team they may encounter in the playoffs. That being said, they could just as easily lose in the first round. Gun to my head, I’d probably say their most likely outcome would be losing to Detroit in the ALCS.
DAVID: Xander Bogaerts was called up by the Red Sox earlier this week. Good or bad move? I spoke with Keith Law in July and someone I know asked him if he thought Bogaerts could play like Manny Machado did last year for Baltimore, this year for Boston. Do you think Bogaerts could do that?
MATTHEW: I love bringing up Bogaerts right now. His track record in the minor-leagues has shown him being able to make quick adjustments at every jump he made. He’s truly the best prospect this franchise has had since at least Hanley Ramirez, and by all accounts his mature approach at the plate should be very important for him adjusting to the big-league level. He won’t be playing everyday here, with Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks still in town, but he’ll play three or four times a week, and should provide a spark. Comparing his potential value the rest of the way to what Machado did last year has been very common, but I think it would come in different ways. Bogaerts should walk much more than Machado, but his power may not come on as quickly has Machado’s did, and Bogaerts’ defensive value is also not in the same stratosphere. Either way, though, he should be a big part of this team the rest of the way, before he assumedly takes over the starting shortstop gig in 2014, and hopefully for a long time after that.
DAVID: Series prediction?
MATTHEW: I’ll say the Red Sox wind up taking two out of three from the Dodgers. I know LA has been on an absolute tear lately, and that does scare me, but the Red Sox find themselves in a big situation too. They need to keep winning games and keep the pesky Rays out of the division lead. Boston really dodged a bullet for this series, too, avoiding both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Either way, it should be a fun weekend.
DAVID: It will definitely be a fun series to watch, especially with old teammates facing off all over the place. Thanks Matthew!