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The Red Sox and opportunity cost

Posted By Russ Roberts On March 3, 2011 @ 12:20 pm In Sports | Comments Disabled

The Red Sox made some dramatic off-season moves, adding Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. They are the favorites to win the AL East and now there is talk that they might win 100 games [1]. Despite being an enormous Red Sox fan who loves being optimistic in the springtime, this seems very improbable to me. My analysis continues below the fold.

Yes, the Sox added Crawford and Gonzalez. But there is a weird thing in baseball. You can only use nine players at a time either in the field or in your batting lineup. So while Crawford and Gonzalez are indeed good or maybe even exceptionally good players, they have also lost two very good players–Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, who both had excellent years last year. So it’s not even obvious that the Sox will be better on offense. So at first base, they have replaced Youk with Gonzalez. That is a slight expected upgrade on offense but AG is coming off shoulder surgery. They have replaced Beltre with Youk. That is likely a slight upgrade. They have replaced Martinez with Saltalamacchia who has not proven he can be a major league hitter. Huge downgrade. The outfield should be a big upgrade. Crawford and Ellsbury should be better than say, Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald and a broken down Mike Cameron, but Hall and McDonald weren’t horrible. JD Drew, on the other hand, is another year older. I would expect him to have a worse year.

If Pedroia is healthy and a rising Jed Lowrie materializes, there will be more improvement there.

The bullpen is improved on paper. Bard is a year older and should be better. Papelbon is a question mark. His WHIP, HR/9 and BB/9 have risen steadily over the last three years.

The starting pitching is very uncertain. Lester should be strong. Beckett, Lackey, and Dice-K are all question marks. Buchholz had a very low BABIP last year suggesting he may regress this year.

All in all, the Red Sox should be a good or maybe even a very good team this year. My only comfort is that the Yankees are a year older. I expect declines in Jeter, Posada, A-Rod and Rivera. But that doesn’t always happen. Their starting pitching is also suspect.

It will be an interesting year. I would be surprised and very happy if the Red Sox ran away with the pennant.

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[1] they might win 100 games: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/joe_lemire/03/02/red.sox.postcard/index.html?eref=sihp

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