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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Red Sox have a great chance to repeat in 2014

Jon+Lester+will+be+crucial+if+the+Sox+are+to+repeat+in+2014
Jon Lester will be crucial if the Sox are to repeat in 2014

In 2013, the Red Sox shocked the entire baseball world. After going 69–93 in their 2012 campaign while finishing in the basement of the American League East, they completed an epic worst-to-first finish by winning the World Series. However, their new approach of low-risk, high-reward deals has left many to wonder if it was a fluke, and more importantly, if they can win another championship.
The Red Sox are entering this fresh season with the majority of the team still in place, minus Jacoby Ellsbury, who joined the Yankees. Red Sox fans were more than happy to see him and his injuries head to the Bronx. As good of a player as Ellsbury is, his loss may not be felt as much as many baseball minds believe. If Jackie Bradley Jr. is fully developed, he could potentially be an identical player to Ellsbury.
The important thing to remember with the low-risk, high-reward contracts is that these weren’t exactly the first tastes of success for Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, or Koji Uehara. Napoli was an All-Star in 2011, Victorino was an All-Star and Gold Glover with Philadelphia, and Uehara was looked at as a fragile middle reliever that would put up good numbers but couldn’t pitch more than 65 innings per season, but that all changed with a move to the closer role.
With this core intact, the Sox also have a bevy of young and very talented prospects waiting in the wing. I mentioned earlier Jackie Bradley Jr., who seems to be the heir apparent to Jacoby Ellsbury. On top of Bradley, the Red Sox also have Xander Bogaerts at shortstop. Bogaerts was already listed as a top 10 MLB prospect entering the 2013 season, but after playing so well during the postseason, where he showcased tremendous plate discipline while racking up a .296 Batting Average and .412 On Base Percentage, his stock has only risen.
The key sentiment that was stressed upon entering 2013 was that the pitching needed to rebound. The Front Office built an offense that led the league in runs scored last year and they should be right in the mix to do so again. However, coming off of the disastrous 2012 season, pitching was front and center. The plan was that the offense would score runs but if the pitching staff in place could be repaired by former pitching coach, and now manger of the Sox John Farrell, they would have a legitimate shot at the postseason.
Jon Lester returned to his 2010, ace-like form. Clay Buchholz showed his dominant ability but struggled with health issues, John Lackey looked like the man that used to dominate the A.L. West while with the Angels, and a trade deadline acquisition of former N.L. Cy Young winner Jake Peavy made this rotation even more dangerous. All of the pitchers that performed so well last year, coupled with a handful of great minor league arms should give the Sox more of what they have come to expect from the rotation. 
Even with the rotation Boston has, any rotation is only as strong as its bullpen, and the Red Sox bullpen was certainly strong last year. Uehara was nothing short of dominant. However, at age 39, many are wondering if he can repeat that kind of performance. With the numbers he put up (1.09 ERA, 0.565 WHIP (an MLB record), and 21 saves) there is no reason to believe that the drop off will be catastrophic. However, on the odd chance Uehara’s age does catch up to him, the Sox have in house options Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa, and new additions Burke Badenhop and former Cardinals closer Edward Mujica, who racked up 38 saves last year. The Red Sox certainly have the tools to build a strong bullpen once again.
With all of those factors, this Red Sox team certainly is for real. The lineup could be even more dangerous with the jolt of the two rookies, and if David Ortiz can continue to hit at the level he was at last year. The pitching looks to be dominant between the rotation and bullpen. The Red Sox also have a little more cap flexibility with Ryan Dempster taking the year off so they can make a move or signing if a need does arise. The sky is the limit for the 2014 edition of the Red Sox and for the foreseeable future.