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No. 4 RED SOX

March 31, 2014
March 31, 2014

Table of Contents
March 31, 2014

SI.com
GOLF PLUS
THE MAIL
2014 BASEBALL PREVIEW
Departments

No. 4 RED SOX

Enemy Lines

This is an article from the March 31, 2014 issue

A rival scout sizes up the RED SOX

Centerfield is their biggest question mark. They want to give JACKIE BRADLEY JR. every opportunity to win the job, but he's not having the spring he had last year. Pitchers are pounding him in with velocity and making him pull the ball. He's better going straightaway or to the opposite gap.... GRADY SIZEMORE doesn't have the life he had in his bat three years ago, but he's smarter. And he's getting decent jumps in center.... I think XANDER BOGAERTS is going to be a superstar. He's got bat speed, an efficient swing, can handle the fastball, doesn't get fooled easily, has decent plate discipline and power....WILL MIDDLEBROOKS is a "cripple hitter" who will jump a fastball over the plate then have a very bad at bat next time up. He hasn't learned to handle both halves of the plate.... The transition to A.J. PIERZYNSKI is a plus. He's caught a lot of good staffs, and he knows the hitters better than Jarrod Saltalamacchia.... DUSTIN PEDROIA deserves all the accolades, but [after his hand injuries] I don't see the oppo power he had a few years ago. He'll ambush mistakes to the pull side.... JOHN FARRELL kept JON LESTER on his A game last year. Lester had a better approach in repeating his delivery, using his fastball more efficiently and not overusing his cutter.... CLAY BUCHHOLZ is evolving—he's not the fireballing kid he was, but he's making adjustments and using all of his pitches better. I don't think he's a No. 2 guy, but he might become that again.

The Lineup

2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM

View this article in the original magazine

PROJECTED RUNS SCORED

500

RED SOX 750

AL AVERAGE 694

PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED

500

RED SOX 675

AL AVERAGE 707

Modest Proposal

KOJI UEHARA was an amazing story, and pitcher, for the World Series champs, posting a 1.09 ERA, allowing 33 hits in 741/3 innings, striking out 38% of the batters he faced and walking just seven men unintentionally. Remember that a year ago the Sox were sorting out who their closer would be, with Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan the main candidates. Thanks to injuries that pair combined for 36 innings and 12 saves in 2013; Uehara didn't become the closer until late June. Just as it did going into last season, Boston has assembled a deep bullpen with many options, and it should use the example of Uehara to keep from becoming overly committed to one pitcher in the closer role. The lesson of Koji isn't just that he is awesome. It's that relievers can be inserted into the closer role as long as they have the skills to be a good pitcher. The '14 version might be BURKE BADENHOP or EDWARD MUJICA or JUNICHI TAZAWA. Depth and flexibility are the keys.

PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDKoji UeharaPHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDDavid OrtizPHOTOTWO CHARTS