According to this column, the Boston Red Sox are allegedly the 2nd-most improved team in the big leagues (the Toronto Blue Jays rightfully are listed at #1.) As if this debacle of an off-season being rated as the second-best going wasn’t enough, the computer models they’ve constructed predict the Red Sox to win 85 games. 85!!!!
Perhaps if the Sox were going to play a season in the same manner that Ishmael from Kingpin bowled games, they could win 85 games. If they were to go “half-again”, that might be a doable task. In a 162 game season, though? There’s not a chance in the world that happens, not with how the roster is currently constructed.
In case the geniuses who put the article together have forgotten, the Red Sox finished the 2012 season with a 69-83 record. They have compounded the problem by spending copious amounts of money on ‘talent’ that the ’63 Mets wouldn’t employ. On the plus side of the ledger, John Farrell is back in town. On the negative side, so is John Lackey. Allegedly, he will be ‘healthy’ and contributing in a major way. Of course, this is the very same John Lackey that has gone 26-23 (.531) in three seasons since signing with the Sox prior to the 2010 season. In the two seasons that he has pitched, the Red Sox went 153-122 (.556) in games where he wasn’t involved in the decision. Yet he is likely to be the 3 or 4 starter come April.
Meanwhile, there is no reason to expect that the Tampa Bay Rays will all of a sudden become terrible, nor is there a reason to expect the Orioles to fall back. The Yankees, as ‘terrible’ as they may be, are likely improved by losing Arod for the first half of the season and adding Kevin Youkilis to cover for him. While I hope the Yankees lose 100 games this coming year, it seems highly unlikely that they’ll win less than 90. As for Toronto, one AL exec noted “They’ve basically traded for a No. 1, a No. 2 and a No. 3 starter, and that’s remarkable, in and of itself.” John Farrell is going to live to regret the day he decided life would be better in Boston than Toronto. If it’s later than April 5th, 2013 it’ll be a minor miracle.
With Toronto locked in as the prohibitive favorite to win the East (the computers predict 93 wins. I think it’ll be more like 96.), and the Rays, Orioles, and Yanks lined up 2-4, I’m dying to find out where the computer thinks the Red Sox are going to pull 85 wins from. I can’t recall an entire division ever finishing above .500 (though the 2012 A.L. West gave a valiant effort) and it seems highly unlikely that the 2013 AL East will make history.
What’s most baffling is that the computer picked the Red Sox to win 76 games in 2013 at the beginning of this offseason, before they signed anyone. To show the computer’s genius, it had the LA Angels winning 84 games. After adding Josh Hamilton, the computer boosted its estimate for the Angels to 88 games.
For those keeping track at home, if you take a 69 win team, have it compete in what is likely to be the best division in baseball in 2013, add a bunch of overpriced retreads, and that adds up to a net 16 win increase. Meanwhile, LA won 89 games in 2012, grabbed the best offensive player in the game (from a division rival, no less), and that equates to net loss of one game? I think the computer running these formulas has clearly been hitting the egg nog, early and often, because there’s no logic to the prognostications it’s spitting out.
As a fan, I’d love for nothing more than to see the Red Sox play well above my expectation level. I’d give almost anything for them to make a playoff run, but there’s no logic in thinking it’s a possibility. Worse, with press like that, there’s nearly no chance of a magical run like the city saw in 1967 or 1986 when the press was burying them. When the press turns on a team, it can be a great unifying experience for everyone involved.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case for this iteration of the Sox. Everywhere I look, people can’t stop commenting on how improved the Red Sox are, and what a major player they’ve been in the free agent market. I have no idea how much money this PR campaign is costing Larry Lucchino et al, but I have to imagine it’s in to the 7 figures by now, but it’s likely going to be enough to keep their consecutive game sellout streak intact, which is the most important thing going on in Boston right now.
Others won’t say it, but I’m hear to tell you right now: unless something unforeseen occurs like the Red Sox resurrecting Babe Ruth, Joe Wood, and Ted Williams in all their glory, they won’t win more than 72 games. It’s inconceivable. They’ll finish dead last in the East for the 2nd straight season, and with any luck, 2014 will be a better year.
Is your favorite team’s off-season going better than Boston’s? Do you think the Red Sox have a chance in the East?
Let me know: