Rival Hot Stoves: Red Sox

The Red Sox are chasing the Yankees again, and once again both front offices are looking at the same assets.

1. The Lineup Right Now:

C Martinez
1B Youkilis 2B Pedroia
3B Lowell
SS Lowrie
LF Anderson
CF Ellsbury
RF Drew
DH Ortiz
SP Beckett SP Lester SP Matsuzaka SP Wakefield SP Buchholz RP Bard RP Okajima RP Ramirez CP Papelbon

2. Prospects to Watch:

Josh Reddick- an outfielder with the speed to play all 3 spots, Reddick's bat didn't perform well in his September call up.  HIs high batting average has carried him quickly through the minors (only 18 games at AAA and less than 90 games at AA).  He's a see it- hit it type, and I wonder if his defense is strong enough to make Jacoby Ellsbury a trade chip in the quest for a certain high profile pitcher from North of the Border.

Michael Bowden- the 23 year old compares to IPK- high 80s to low 90s fastball, plus command of fastball and curve.  He saw 16 innings of work in Boston (8G, 1 start), be he pitched very well in AAA Pawtucket (24 starts, average 5.1IP, 106H, 44BB, 88K).  As a trade chip or as the first replacement starter, Bowden is a part of the Red Sox future.

Lars Anderson- the big first baseman had a terrible season in 2009, hitting a Jose Molina-esque .233/.328/.345 in 119 games in his second year at AA.  He'll need a big bounce back to put his career back on track.

Matchup with the Yankees

Victor Martinez's defense as a full time catcher will make Posada look like Bill DIckey.  The right side of the infield will stand up with anybody in the league, but the Sox suffered through a season of near replacement level on the left side, so it's no surprise that the front office has wondered if their Gold Glove 2B might not play a good enough SS to sign or trade for a strong second baseman.

At the moment the Red Sox have the stronger rotation.  Adding Halladay, or adding Lackey and seeing Halladay go anywhere but New York, would make the Red Sox the AL favorites.

The Quick ReLoad:

The Red Sox took $12M off the books before the start of the 2009 season.  Another $40M came off at the end of season.  If Boston has only $30M to spend, that's enough to make the second best team in the AL even more imposing.

A left fielder is a must-have, but there are a slew of available left fielders, and all of them could handle the small patch of grass in the shadow of the Green Monster.

Either the Red Sox have to acquire a shortstop, or they have move Pedroia and choose from the relatively stronger crop of second basemen.

Wrap-up:

The Sox got basically nothing from Matsuzaka, and replaced his quality with Brad Penny and John Smoltz.  Even if a trade for Halladay weakened the Red Sox for a decade, it would make them a frightening team to face in 2010, both over the regular season and in a playoff series.

My sincerest hope is that Theo learned nothing from his lightning in a bottle 2009 approach.  Another season of Nick Green at short and Tim Wakefield as the #3 pitcher would make me a happy Yankee.  My fear is that the $50M that have come off the books in the last 2 seasons is on its way back into the payroll.

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