It took the Red Sox 86 years to win a World Series after their last championship. Since they always seem to win at the beginning of centuries, this means another two or three rings for Schilling, Ortiz, Varitek & Co. isn't out of the question. On paper, it may be a very short drought this time around.
Worth Every Penny
Where do you start? Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke will be the highest-priced Red Sox, so instead of writing about one of them, I'll mention someone who will be a value pick. In AL-only leagues, Edgar Renteria's worth will far exceed his draft day price. A clutch hitter who can drive in 100 runs for the Sox out of the sixth or seventh spot in the lineup, Renteria adds to the depleted ranks of elite AL shortstops. In a fantasy sense, he'll battle Derek Jeter as the second most valuable AL shortstop behind Miguel Tejada.
About to Blossom
The Red Sox are one of the older clubs in the majors, but one key contributor who's under 30 is starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo, 28. Once the author of a minor league perfect game, Arroyo earned a spot on Boston's postseason roster in 2004 by posting 10 wins and an ERA of 4.09. Away from Fenway Park, he was one of the better pitchers in the game, surrendering only 3.06 earned runs per nine innings. He begins the season as the Red Sox fifth starter, but with the injury histories of Wade Miller and David Wells, Arroyo will likely make 30 starts, and you'll look smart by having him on your team when everyone wants to claim him off of waivers.
The Greek God of Walks has shown that not swinging the bat is much more his forte than actually offering at pitches. As a rookie on the Pawtucket shuttle, Kevin Youkilis hit .260 with seven home runs. Not bad, but not the Wade Boggs-esque showing that Bostononians were waiting for, He has yet to show power, has no speed and has once Bill Mueller returns from offseason surgery, has no position. Youkilis will likely have gaudy spring numbers because he'll get the lion's share of AB's with Mueller out. Don't believe the hype.
Do You Feel Lucky?
As an Astro, Miller was one of the NL's most solid pitchers in 2001 and 2002, but a frayed labrum sidelined him for the second half of 2004. He's rehabbing this spring and is hoping to occupy the fifth spot in the rotation, pushing Tim Wakefield to the bullpen. If Miller's healthy and gets his motion issues worked out, hecould be a big steal. It's a big IF, but worth the chance.
It's ironic that a team that runs so infrequently would keep themselves alive in the ALCS by using stolen bases by pinch runner Dave Roberts. No current Red Sox player stole 20 bases last year although Johnny Damon (19) and Renteria (17) are threats.
If Something Should Happen To Keith Foulke
They'll just go to a committee ... just kidding. Matt Mantei, the former closer for the Diamondbacks and Marlins, was signed to add depth and insurance in the bullpen, just in case something does happen to Foulke. Working with pitching coach Dave Wallace will help Mantei get his mechanics in shape and if his arm holds up, he should become, in essence, an eighth-inning closer.
Don't Forget About
Matt Clement, Trot Nixon, Wakefield, Mark Bellhorn, Kevin Millar
Don't Bother With
Jay Payton, Ramon Vazquez, Mike Timlin
David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).