Although the Red Sox only managed 89 wins in 2010, the season could be viewed as a success due to the amount of adversity the team overcame with injuries to stars Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, and poor pitching performances from John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsusaka.
General Manager Theo Epstein and the Red Sox front office were busy this off-season, adding left fielder Carl Crawford and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Crawford is an excellent base stealing threat who can also hit for power and average, while Gonzalez is one of the best hitting and fielding first basemen in the game.
The club also fortified its bullpen with the addition of veterans Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. Both players have experience closing games and will be excellent set-up men for Jonathan Papelbon.
Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler
Adrian Beltre, Bill Hall, Victor Martinez
Who to Target
Carl Crawford is the highest ranked (10th Overall) Red Sox on our Kramerica Sports 2011 Top 200 Fantasy Baseball rankings. The newly acquired outfielder has a .298 career average, and stole 47 bases while driving in 90 runs as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. Crawford is similar to Carlos Gonzales in that he is a five-tool fantasy producer, providing help in all five statistical categories. Although Crawford somewhat lacks power – averaging 14 home runs per season – he more than makes up for hit with his base stealing and runs scoring abilities.
Adrian Gonzalez is ranked just one spot behind Crawford, giving the Red Sox the distinction of being one of the two major league teams (Rockies) with two first round fantasy draft picks. Often described as the consummate "pros's pro" by his peers, Gonzalez has quietly amassed excellent power numbers while playing the last five years of his career in one of the most pitcher friendly parks in the league. Moving to smaller ballpark and joining a lineup that will afford him greater protection should greatly improve Gonzlez's stats this season, making him an excellent first round pick in all formats.
Dustin Pedroia returns to the field this season after missing most of the previous year with a foot injury. Although short in stature, Pedroia's play on the field speaks for itself as he as averaged 110 runs scored and 74 RBI over his five-year major league career. The additions of Crawford and Gonzalez will only improve Pedroia's stats this season, as he will likely score more runs and be given a chance to drive in more of his teammates. The only thing that would derail his chances of having an excellent season is succumbing to another injury.
From a pitching perspective, the Red Sox's ace and opening day starter Jon Lester, is an excellent value at his current rank of 45th overall. Lester posted an excellent 19-9 record in 32 appearances in 2010, with a respectable 3.25 ERA and a 9.7 strikeout per nine ratio. For those owners who choose to wait on pitching in the first few rounds, Lester is an excellent option for a #1 starting pitcher in a standard 12 team mixed league. Look for him to post his first career 20 game season as the added offense should give him even greater run support.
With the loss of all-star catcher Victor Martinez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will start the 2011 season as the starting backstop for the Red Sox. Salty is a talented switch hitting catcher who does have some pop, however injuries have kept him off the field for most of his career. One could not ask for a better opportunity to re-invigorate their career, now it is up to Saltalamacchia to prove that he is a viable major league catcher.
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Andrew Swanson is the founder and president of Kramerica Sports LLC, the home of free fantasy news, rankings and advice. In addition to his work as the featured writer for Kramerica Sports, Andrew has a weekly fantasy football segment on ESPN radio 101.7 The Team.. You may contrat Andrew through his website or Twitter @ KramericaSports
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