With the new year now upon us and a great deal of hope and even more expectations on the shoulders of the 2011 Boston Red Sox, each player should have resolutions for their games in the upcoming year. Here are some suggestions for the projected Red Sox starters.
Jarrod Saltalamaccia: “Ignore the hype and make it through a full, healthy season.” Salty is no longer a top catching prospect and needs to realize that he is not going to have anything handed to him. He needs to keep himself healthy and produce consistently if he wants to keep Boston from looking elsewhere for help behind the plate.
Adrian Gonzalez: “Just do my thing.” Adrain Gonzalez was tailor-made for Fenway Park with a swing that naturally sends balls the opposite way. His bugaboo had been left-handed pitching to a point, but he certainly figured that out last season with an average of over .300 against lefties. If he just operates the way he normally does, he’ll put up monstrous numbers.
Dustin Pedroia: “Focus on getting healthy and don’t rush anything.” While it looks like Pedroia will be ready for spring training anyway, Pedroia has to remember to be careful with that surgically repaired foot. He’s proven that he’s the kind of guy that wants to compete. While that’s commendable, it’s smarter to let the healing process continue and avoid setbacks.
Marco Scutaro: “Hold onto the starting shortstop job.” Scutaro is going to have to fight for his position this spring with Jed Lowrie returning with resounding success for the Red Sox last season. Across the board, Lowrie’s stats outperform those of Scutaro, who drew some interest from teams at the winter meetings. Scutaro posted a .275/.333/.388 line with 11 homers, acting as a serviceable lead off man for most of the season with Jacoby Elsbury out. But Lowrie’s .287/.381/.526 line with nine homers in just over a quarter of the number of at-bats Scutaro had has earned him at least a shot.
Kevin Youkilis: “Get used to playing third base everyday again.” While he was brought up as a third baseman, the highest number of games Youkilis has played at the position is 65. That was his rookie year. He also played 63 games at that position in 2009, but has been almost exclusively a first baseman thoughout his career. Now he’s got to get used to the physical rigors of being an everyday third baseman again.
Carl Crawford: “Familiarize myself with left field at Fenway.” As a hitter, there’s little Crawford can really improve on. He’s a dynamic playmaker. But there’s a science to playing the wall at Fenway, as well as the slim piece of real estate between the left field line and the stands. It’s also likely Crawford will be asked to move closer to center field, allowing Jacoby Ellsbury to move further towards right to help J.D. Drew in right.
Jacoby Ellsbury: “Re-establish myself as a member of this team.” Ellsbury did himself no favors last year with his public statements about the team’s treatment of his injury, plus the fact he did not spend time with the team as other players did once injured. Teammates were critical of him and fans were all over his case all season. Ellsbury is still only one season removed from a 70-steal season, so, especially with another player with game changing speed, such as Crawford, he could have another terrific season.
J.D. Drew: “Play like I always do in a contract year.” In his two contract years, Drew has played 145 and 146 games. He averages 118 games a season in non-contract years. In 2004 with Atlanta, he posted his season high in homers with 31. in 2006 with Los Angeles, he had his first and only 100 RBI season. He’s never come close to 100 RBI since and hadn’t had more than 73 before. Playing for maybe his last contract, maybe Drew will put forth a little something extra for the Red Sox this year.
Resolutions for the pitching staff will follow with Wednesday’s Musings.