October 28, 2007

GET THE PARTY STARTED:

Boston has built for now and the future (Ken Rosenthal, 10/28/07, FOXSports.com)

The Red Sox, on the verge of winning their second World Series title in four years, might be just getting started.

Consider which players were the biggest contributors Saturday night in the Sox's 10-5 victory over the Rockies in Game 3: Jacoby Ellsbury, rookie. Dustin Pedroia, rookie. Daisuke Matsuzaka, rookie. Hideki Okajima, rookie.

Yes, Matsuzaka and Okajima are experienced pitchers from Japan, but the Sox will control each for the next five seasons.

During that time, the team easily could win another World Series. Or more.

Do Sox fans still miss Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon and Derek Lowe? Most of the team's core veterans are signed long-term. And the farm system is spitting out stars.


The rotation the next few years--Beckett, Dice-K, Lester, Buchholz--can be a real strength. The bullpen--Papelbon, Delcarmen, Okajima--can control the 8th and 9th. The need remains--as it has been for at least two years--an upgrade and heir at catcher.


MORE:
We won't know what we've got 'til BoSox title is long gone (Gregg Doyel, Oct. 28, 2007, CBSSports.com)

For example, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury looks like a future star. Hell, he looks like a present star. He hit .353 this season, was 9-for-9 on steals and played perfectly in the field, but he did all of that in just 116 at-bats. That's a small sample size. Then again, as the sample size grows, so does his production. He had four hits Saturday and keyed Boston's six-run third inning by becoming the second player in World Series history with two doubles in the same frame.

If Ellsbury becomes a perennial All-Star -- and that's a realistic projection -- we're going to look back and marvel at that 2007 Boston team that had David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury.

And don't forget Dustin Pedroia. He hit .317 this season, scored 86 runs, was an above-average fielder and still got overlooked nationally. He's been seen as a complementary piece, but what if he's more than that? Second basemen who hit well over .300 and are super in the field aren't pieces. They're All-Stars. This kid just turned 24. So did Ellsbury. On Saturday they became the first rookies in World Series history to hit 1-2 in the order, and they were so intimidated that they combined for seven hits, four RBI and three runs. If both turn out to be great players, how will history remember this 2007 Boston team?

We already know how good the established players are. Ramirez is a future Hall of Famer. Ortiz could join him in Cooperstown. Varitek and Lowell aren't in that caliber, but both have won a Gold Glove for defense and a Silver Slugger for offense. Youkilis is spackle on offense, spectacular on defense and special in the clubhouse.

Ace pitcher Josh Beckett won 20 games this season and has added four more wins in the postseason to enhance his reputation as his generation's Jack Morris or even Bob Gibson. Curt Schilling isn't what he was in his prime, but he's still a big-time money pitcher. Jonathan Papelbon is the best closer in baseball, and he's only 26.

But what of Jon Lester? He'll start Game 4 on Sunday after beating lymphoma and posting an 11-2 career record in two shortened regular seasons. He was once regarded so highly that Boston's development people couldn't decide who was better, Lester or Papelbon -- and that, Francona says, "is a pretty awesome comparison. ... You're looking at a young, sturdy left-hander with a real clean delivery that we think can be a good starter for a long time."


Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2007 9:28 AM
Comments

All real Sawx fans are desperately hoping they lose the next four. Not only would that set a standard for losing that will be impossible to beat, (although never underestimate Chicago's NL team's abilitiy in that regard...). But once the Sawx win, their fans will have to come to grips with their worst nightmare: the Sawx and those fans have become, in every possible way, what they've hated most for all these years: the Yankees. Yet they'll never be the Yankees (or Yankee's fans) which means they'll just be imitations of the real thing, and that will be a fate even worse than decades of losing.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 28, 2007 2:38 PM

They are to the 21st century what the Yankees were to the 20th.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2007 6:15 PM
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