Previewing the 2012 Red Sox | Interview Series

Over the course of the next month or two, we will be previewing the Yankees’ competition in the American League. To do this, I will interview one blog for each team in the league.

What better team to start off with than the Boston Red Sox? I had the pleasure of interviewing Derek Stykalo of BoSox Injection.

Let’s get started….

1. The Red Sox didn’t exactly end the season the way they would have liked, falling out of contention for the playoffs. What are your thoughts about the “meltdown”?

Despite the final night of the 2011 regular season being one of the greatest night’s for baseball, it was also gut wrenching that brought on days of misery for myself and all Red Sox fans. To spend six months loyally following your club and to have them shut down and basically quit playing for Terry Francona for the last month was downright despicable. It was frustrating, maddening and tragic all at the same time and when Joe Girardi decided to rest his regulars on the final day against Tampa Bay, well that was like rubbing salt in the wound. They say time heal’s all wounds, we’ll see about that.  The 2011 collapse will come up and linger over this team all season long until they make the postseason again.

2. With Terry Francona and Theo Epstein gone, the Red Sox went out and brought in Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington. How do you think this new regime might bring a new dynamic to the Red Sox organization?

I think the new regime was needed.  It was no secret that Epstein was gone after this season anyway thanks to his riff with Larry Lucchino.  It’s went from bad to ugly between the two and Theo couldn’t wait to leave. Cherington is a nice replacement, although no one is really sure who is making the decisions, with Cherington being a puppet for the three headed monster.  None the less, he’s taken the conservative approach this offseason and has made some nice additions in Melancon and Bailey.  It’s been a difficult adjustment to not have the team go out and bring in the top free agents, but that’s life with the luxury tax threshold.

Bobby V will be the more scrutinized move once the season gets going.  I personally wanted Bobby V to be named the new manager after Mike Maddux withdrew his name.  Bobby V is a no BS type of manager and that is what this club needs.  They have too many primadonna’s and egos and last year’s epic collapse just won’t be accepted.  As I said, changes were needed and whether Bobby V is a bridge until John Farrell is finished with his contract in Toronto, he’s going to demand a better work ethic from his players.  He tends to get the best out of his players and if they don’t respond, they won’t play.  He’s a little old school which is needed, but at the same time he’s adjusted to the new era of baseball with the whole sabermetrics etc.

3. Ex-Red Sox Jonathan Papelbon signed with the Phillies early in the offseason. Ben Cherington then went out and acquired former-Yank Mark Melancon from the Astros, and Andrew Bailey from the Athletics. Do you and other Red Sox fans believe that (a) these were fair trades from a Boston perspective, and (b) that Bailey and Melancon will be able to provide a similar level of late-inning assurance that Papelbon did?

I think these trades were excellent for the Red Sox, in fact I did a piece on whether or not the Red Sox stole Bailey from Oakland.  They receive a closer who’s successfully closed 75 games through his first three seasons and that’s for a less than stellar Oakland club.  His ERA spiked last year which is a concern as is his drop in velocity on his fastball, by more than 1mph.  His cutter was also inconsistent, but he did have a stint on the DL early on last season.  But he’s young, under team control for a few more years and if he can regain his control, he’s going to do great things in Boston.  Giving up Josh Reddick was a loss, but he showed late last season he needs more plate discipline, often swinging at pitches outside the strike zone.  But the Red Sox got Ryan Sweeney in return which will help from a defensive standpoint.  The Sox did give up prospects Miles Head and Raul Alcantara, but both are many years away from being major league ready.  Cherington did well on this one and he satisfied the fan’s burning desire for a closer.

The Melancon deal was another nice trade for Boston.  While we parted ways with Jed Lowrie, we get a great set up man who can also close should Bailey struggle or go down with injury.   Lowrie has a ton of potential, but his inability to stay healthy is a concern and was reason enough to part ways with him.  The club picked up Marco Scutaro’s option for this year and Jose Iglesias could become the fulltime shortstop next year, so Lowrie suddenly became expendable. Kyle Weiland is another young arm that needs some seasoning, but could become a valuable piece out of the bullpen or as a starter.  None the less, it was a good deal for Boston as they solidified their pen and now have options with Daniel Bard who wants to start.

4. It’s been going around that the Red Sox may try to use Daniel Bard as a starter in 2012. Do you think he is the kind of pitcher who is able to handle the switch from the bullpen to the rotation?

Yes, I believe he has what it takes to start.  He has developed a nice changeup to go with his fiery fastball and is still working on his slider.  It has been his desire to become a starter and when Papelbon left, if Bard wanted the closer role he would have stepped up and asked for it. Rather he asked to be a starter so the organization has no choice but to give him a shot.  I think he’ll stick as the number four maybe five guy.  C.J Wilson did it in Texas and look at the promising career he has in front of him.  With a new training staff in Boston along with a new pitching coach, they’ll be sure to monitor Bard’s arm and be weary to not wear him out.  He’ll likely be on a pitch count as we’ve seen this become the norm with young arms, just like the Yankees did with Joba a couple years ago.

5. How do you feel about the current state of the Red Sox prospects, and minor-league system? Are there any prospects that you think could have an impact on the 2012 team?

I feel the Red Sox did a nice job of making a couple deals without touching their top 10 prospect list.  Guys like Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway, Jose Iglesias are very close to being ready and Cherington couldn’t afford to strip the farm any further than what Epstein did over the last couple of years.  It’s still thin, don’t get me wrong, but there are a couple guys who could see action with the big club throughout the season.  Ryan Kalish is likely to remain with the big club once he returns in late May, early June.  Lavarnway could challenge for the backup job providing he has a solid spring training which would make the newly acquired Kelly Shoppach expendable.  Iglesias needs to improve at the plate and if he can do that by August, he could find himself as a September callup.  Middlebrooks is the one to watch however.  With Kevin Youkilis breaking down, Middlebrooks has been pegged as the third baseman of the future.  Coming off injury, Middlebrooks will be under much scrutiny and if he can’t produce, he could be used as leverage in a trade while he still has some value.

6. Finally, how do you project the team will do in 2012?

This is a tough question simply because Cherington could add another starter before spring training.  If he does and it’s a guy like Roy Oswalt who, if he stays healthy, could be a great number four guy and add a veteran presence to the locker room and the top three in Lester, Beckett and Buchholz can regain their dominating form, I think the Red Sox could push the Yankees for the division.  This of course is dependent upon whether the Yankees bolster their rotation and whether Phil Hughes can regain his form. So lots of of “what if’s.”  This Red Sox offense isnt’ a whole lot different than last year so scoring runs shouldn’t be a problem.  The new look bullpen will be tested, but the biggest concern is the starting pitching.  If the front three can stay healthy and in shape (shot at Beckett) then I honestly feel the postseason is a viable expectation.  Of course if the ego’s remain and don’t want to buy into Bobby V then it’ll be another third place finish in the division, maybe even fourth.  But for this article’s sake, I project the Red Sox with 94 wins and making the playoffs via the Wild Card.

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About Mike D.

Mike D. is one of 2 co-founders of the Yankees Fans Unite Blog. He has been a Yankees fan for as long as he can remember, growing up in a family of huge NYY fans. His knowledge of the game comes from watching baseball his whole life, and playing third base in high school and college.

Posted on January 9, 2012, in Interviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. It’s going to be interesting to see if Bobby V. can still relate while being out of coaching for awhile. I know he has been in the studio and probably interacted with the players a bit but times have changed sine he coached last.

    Mainly bigger Ego’s and we have seen from last year that their are some big ego’s on that team. Will be interesting to see if his no nonsense approach will work with these guys. Or if it wears old after awhile and they turn on him.

  2. I think Bobby V is a good fit for that team. He’s the kind of guy they need after last year’s collapse and everyone turning on each other/pointing fingers.

    They have as many question marks as any team:

    1) the health of a lot of player’s coming off injury
    2) can Bard adjust as a starter
    3) how do Bailey/Melancon compare to Papelbon/Bard.

    Boston also still needs a couple more starters – one established innings eater like a Saunders, Kuroda or Maholm and one or 2 guys on minor lg deals to provide depth in case Bard can’t handle starting or Bucholz has injury issues. Bartolo Colon, Rich Harden or Ben Sheets might be good fits.

    I wonder what they do with Aceve – starter or RP. He was HUGE for them in the pen last yr. That was a bad loss for the Yanks. I understand they weren’t happy with him and felt they had a deep pen, but for minimal money they could have brought Ace back last yr.

    The offense should still be one of the best in the league. Ellsbury should come down to earth but Crawford will be much better to even it out.

    • The Red Sox didn’t have a starter given them 200 innings last year. Fish you’re right that that they need an innings eater.

  3. This was interesting, thanks. How did they “steal” Bailey for a couple guys in the low minors, and a preference on a young outfielder?

  4. It’s going to be interesting to see when the vote soon if the new playoff structure will start this year. Increases both the Yankees and Red Sox chances to make it into the playoffs.

    • Sorry but I just do NOT like the new playoff format. Primarily what I will call the one game play in between now what will be the 2 wild card teams. Especially when it’s not inconceivable that those 2 wild card teams could have better records than one of the other division leaders.

      In my very humble opinion I don’t see why you wouldn’t have the 2 teams with the worst record (of the teams that qualify) play each other for the right to move on.

      • yeah i’m not sure how well i feel about it. I see why they are doing it to make the teams play to the very end. It will make teams play harder and fight not to be a wildcard though i believe which is a good thing.

        I’m sure their were a ton of different scenarios brought to MLB. Not many people like change so will see how long this lasts or if it sticks.

        • Matt, I know that’s the popular view of MLB that it will make the teams play harder until the end. I’m not sure I buy that in many of the seasons. For example last year it would have had absolutely no effect on how hard the Sox, Rays and Angels played, In my opinion. I just don’t think the old system was broken. It didn’t need to be fixed in my opinion.

          Also, until MLB plays a balanced scheduled with all teams playing other teams in the same league the same number of time, the new format is blatantly unfair in my opinion. The Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Jays all very good teams and all play each other 18 times. That is not the case in the other divisions in the AL.

    • Matt it’s very possible both the Yankees and Red Sox don’t make the post season this year even with an extra wild card team. For both teams I don’t know where the starter innings are going to come from.

      • To me if you ask. I think Tampa is the team to beat in the division. I think their pitching will carry them.

        • Matt it will be very interesting to see how the Rays weave Matt Moore into the mix. Also I am a big fan of Alex Cobb so how soon will he be able to come back from rib surgery could be another huge boost for the Rays later in the year.

          • Mike has an interview with a Rays blog coming out later this week. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

            • Matt tell me what you like about this Yankees team? I find them not very likeable for the most part. I think there is more chance for failure then success. It very well could be 1965 all over again.

              • 1. Montero – Will he show everyone what he is made of and what many of us expect from him.
                2. Nova – Can he put up the same numbers from last year?
                3. Granderson – last year a fluke? can he do it again?
                4. Tex – If he has his swing fixed and his BA goes up
                5. Gardy – Can he take on more steals since he started slow last year?
                6. Jeter – Can he continue where he left off from the 2nd half of last year?
                7. Arod – If he stays healthy i expect some big numbers.

                I’m excited I like them. I think the offense is going to put up huge numbers. and carry this lack luster pitching from the back end.

                Remember if Nova CC and Hughes all pitch well and we get a decent showing from Garcia and AJ we should be ok.

                • Wow a lot a IF in there.

                  I like Montero and Nova.
                  I have no faith in Hughes at all.
                  Tex will have to be a very aggressive shift so that is doubtful.
                  I have little faith in Jeter either as he can’t hit power right handed pitching anymore an is a disaster range wise in the field.
                  Alex is doomed to be more injured then not.
                  I like Gardner the our Jackass manager will not allow him to play full time and lead off.

                  If we do not have innings out of the rotation the pen will implode. We better keep the last roster spots with players who have options or both Nunez and Montero will be seeing plenty of AAA time.

                  This team has more chance of failure then success.

                  • typo…………Tex will be hitting into more and more very aggressive shifts. I like Gardner but….

                  • a lot of negative could have been said going into last season as well and the Yankees made the playoffs.

                    • That is why I am much more skeptical this year. Can the Yankees be lucky again? I do not think this team can overcome the incompetent Girardi. I could be wrong and this teams wins 105 games but I peg the chance of that happening at about 15%.

      • Dan, if all that counted was starting pitching, then I’d 100% agree with “it’s very possible both the Yankees and Red Sox don’t make the post season this year even with an extra wild card team”. However, both teams have two of the best offenses in the league. A very strong offense is, in a vast majority of cases, enough to make the playoffs, in my opinion.

        However, and I’m sure you’d agree, a strong offense with weak(er) SP, is not a great equation for success in the postseason.

        • Mike there are 5 teams right now where there starters combined could give 1000 or more innings.


          Those teams will have much fresher pens come September.

          Both the Yankees and Red Sox need to find starter innings. Now I like the Yankees chance better if they’re willing to risk going young.

  5. One would think from some of the comments here that the Yankees were the only team of some of the more likely teams to make a run at the postseason with question marks going into the 2012 season.

    For example:
    Texas lost their ace and as of today has not replaced. They are also attempting to move their 2011 close into the starting rotation. When over the past 3 years he has not pitched more than 69 innings in any season. It remains to be seen how and if he can be stretched out.
    Angels no question lights out starting rotation. But as one poster here themselves stated/estimated they were were 9th or 10th best team in the ML’s going into the 2012 season. Beshind the Rays, Yankees and the Sox.
    Rays great pitching staff virtually no offense Finished 12 out of 14 AL teams in 2011 in BA. 8th in RBI’s and 8th in runs scored.
    Cleveland, just as bad in 2011 offensively as the Rays maybe even a little worse without nearly the pitching as the Rays.

    The Tigers are perhaps the most complete team in the AL in my opinion and considering that the other 4 teams in the AL Central will probably be hard pressed to win even 85 games. They will probably run away with that division again in 2012.

    The point I’m trying to make I guess is that all the teams in the AL even the “elite” ones have issues. And in my opinion the Yankees are probably one of the teams with the least issues. Their offense is expected to be at least as good if not better in 2012 than in 2011 with the addition of Montero replacing Posada. Their bullpen should be even better then in 2011 with Chamberlain coming back, Soriano from May on had a very good season with the exception of 2 games out out about 30 that he appeared in. Robertson is coming into his own and Mo is Mo. Then there is the starting rotation. CC is going to be CC. Nova showed when he game back from being sent down to the minors he is someone the Yankees can count on. Garcia is going to be Garcia and give the Yankees plus or minus 12 or so wins. The question marks obviously are Hughes and AJ. Hughes can’t be any worst and even a modest improvement would help. AJ I’m not even going to try and explain. But what I will say should any one or even 2 of the expected 5 starters falter sometime during the season the Yankees have a good core of prospects (Nova/Phelps/Warren, etc..) that should be able to pick up the slack.

    The Yankees won 97 games last year and that was with them sitting on their thumbs roughly the last 2 weeks of the season. There is absolutely no reason they cant win at least that many in 2012. Does anyone really think the Yankees are going to go 6-12 in 2012 versus the Red Sox again.

    Perhaps it’s the homer in me and I’m sure others may disagree but for the reasons I’ve stated I see the Yankees winning the AL East and competing with the Tigers for the best record in the AL.

    • Good stuff…… and like dan was saying before I lot of if’s but every team has lot’s of IF’s nothing is guaranteed. Boston’s top ace can throw is arm out in spring training or other things of that nature and Yankees could get a leg up.

      A lot can happen in a season it’s not a sprint. I do like the Yankees chances. i do think they will make the playoffs.

  6. 1965 is more likely then the Yankees having the best record in the American League.

  7. Hello Dan….Can the Yankees be better again this year?……Sure, why not? Manager Joe Girardi, is not all that bad. A lot of people like him. I think he is top tier. Also, I think the Yankees will add a veteran pitcher soon. What say you? Take care.

    • Matt you do want me to ignore this person? It would help greatly if he does not try to engage me in the future.

      • Like I have made it clear many times. it’s best if you don’t address each other that is correct. Their are plenty of others on this blog to engage with.

        Enjoy the night everyone.

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