Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Red Sox of the Future

A guest blog from friend Ernie Dolan:

This is a golden age of baseball in Boston. Some may consider it the golden age for all sports here, what with the recent success of the Patriots, Celtics and local college teams, but for eight months a year, it is the Red Sox who dominate local discussion and provide the most excitement night in and night out.

In the past four seasons since winning the World Series, a youthful renaissance has busted onto the scene. First we were introduced to Kevin Youkilis and Jonathan Papelbon, the first basemen/closer combination of the future. Last season, we witnessed the arrival of the gritty Dustin Pedroia and speedy Jacoby Ellsbury, the later an instant heartthrob for women all over Boston, including my girlfriend. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and this season in just a few spot starts, Justin Masterson have made the pitching rotation one of the most promising in the major leagues. And coming soon to the local nine a boat load more of the brightest future prospects in the game.

Through skillful and visionary scouting and drafting, the Red Sox put together a farm system that is setting a new standard on how to go about winning World Series Championships. While the Evil Empire of Baseball went about the early half of the 00’s throwing money around and selling off players like Burritos flying off the counter at Bulocco, the Sox took a different approach. While not every prospect realizes his potential (names like Brian Taylor and Drew Henson come to mind) the Red Sox have largely been able to beat the house more often than not and it is through no string of luck. Boston is a city full of smart people, and the Red Sox are cornering the market on Baseball stat geeks and nerds. Through new ways of valuing talent and teaching different baseball philosophies, the Red Sox produced disciplined players like Youkilis, also known as “The Greek God of Walks”.

While I can’t offer the hilarity found in filling out Mad Libs or making off-the-wall bets, one thing I am betting on and I feel all of Red Sox Nation should be aware of is that the winning ways aren’t going away any time soon. As the Schillings, Timlins, Lowells and Variteks head off to pasture, fear not - for the line of new faces anxious and ready to take over is on the horizon. There are plenty of MLB ready stars in nearby Pawtucket, exciting ball players like Jeff Bailey (.318 16 HR 44 RBI), Jed Lowrie (42 AB, .310 AVG .340 OBP w/Red Sox & 73rd rated prospect by Baseball America), and Chris Carter (.320 8 HR 31 RBI) and hurlers like Buchholz (4th rated prospect by baseball America) and Masterson (2 GS, 12.1 IP 1.46 ERA w/Red Sox & 64th rated prospect by Baseball America), both not on the current big league roster. In Portland, get excited about Michael Bowden (94th rated prospect by Baseball America) and Daniel Bard (grooming to be a closer), both of whom may be getting their first look at Fenway during September call-ups. And in the lower Single A ball, are future power hitters Ryan Kalish (96th rated prospect by Baseball America), Jason Place and Lars Anderson (40th rated prospect by Baseball America), names to make up for the unthinkable loss of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz in the far off future. The future is also bright for last year’s #1 draft pick Nick Hagadone, even though his development is slowed by a season ending injury this year.

In 2010, the Boston Red Sox could have a starting infield of Jeff Bailey, Chris Carter or Lars Anderson at first base, Pedoria at second, Youklis at third and Jed Lowrie at shortstop. In the outfield, we could see Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish and Jason Place. And a wealth of arms with a mix of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Buchholz, Masterson, Lester, and Bowden and possibly Nick Hagadone all fighting for five rotation spots. Daniel Bard may be setting up Papelbon. This would be a formidable team indeed with the biggest future question mark being finding a starting catcher. The 2008 MLB draft happens soon and one can only imagine what new potential prospects will be added to the wealth we already possess in our farm system. Perhaps a catcher or a five tool all around athlete (we miss you, Hanley Ramirez) is on the horizon. As the rest of baseball shudders and tries to keep pace, the new motto of Red Sox nation rings true, “In Theo We Trust”.

By Ernest Grover Dolan II


dubbschism said...

if JD Drew isn't starting in the outfield in 2010, they better be giving me his $23523 million dollar salary.

ejected fan said...

Having prospects is great but they certainly dont hold a candle to your power hitting superstars... Some of the prospect names you mentioned will disappear quicker than free condoms at a bacchanal...