In one year, the Boston Red Sox went from last place in the AL East to World Series champions.
The only question now is, can they do it again?
“Yes, they’re the deepest team in baseball,” MLB analyst Peter Gammons said on The Morning Show. “I think their pitching will be better.”
Better? That’s hard for a 97-win team to be. But Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz, among others, give Boston something a lot of teams don’t have:
“There are only a few teams – and I think the Yankees are in this category – that open the season with their starting rotation healthy, and that’s pretty unusual today in baseball,” Gammons said. “But the depth of their team – the addition of Grady Sizemore changes that lineup so much. They’re going to end up with about seven outfielders playing quite a bit, and they’re very good defensively.”
Once the top young player in the AL, Sizemore, 31, has remerged with the Red Sox after missing the last two seasons.
“I was skeptical,” Gammons said. “He hasn’t played since September of 2011. He’s been through – I think it’s seven fairly complicated operations – and essentially he took all of last year off, rather than go to spring training and keep trying. Two or three parts of his body were always out of alignment. He’s had a full year (to get) his body realigned.”
He may have done just that.
“When I saw him at the beginning of spring training, I saw the quickness in that swing,” Gammons said. “It’s a lot like Paul Molitor or Joe Mauer. There is no movement in his swing. He’s done everything. He’s run into walls, he’s slid. Now, is he going to play 130 games in center field at Fenway Park, which is a huge amount of ground and (has) a lot of angles to cover? No.
“But they have a lot of ways (to use him). My feeling is the more I’ve watched Sizemore this spring, he’s going to be tremendous in that ball park because I think his natural stroke is left-center. He’s got pull power, but I think he’s more of a guy that stays back, uses his hands and drives the ball in the air to left-center field. I think he’ll be a tremendous player in that park. It’s an amazing story.”
Gammons also believes the Red Sox could get 50 home runs out of the left side of their infield with shortstop Xander Bogaerts, 21, and Will Middlebrooks, 25.
That would greatly help Boston’s chances of winning arguably the most crowded division in baseball. Gammons feels Tampa Bay is the favorite – David Price is his Cy Young favorite, while Chris Archer could be the AL’s breakout pitcher – but added that the Yankees and Orioles have a legitimate shot of contending.
“It’s going to be a fascinating division,” Gammons said. “I think they’re going to beat up on each other so much that nobody’s going to go win 95 to 97 games. But I do think there are four teams with a legitimate chance to play in October – and that’s pretty unusual.”