The Red Sox won the World Series in '04, but they weren't built to last. This time, that may not be true. The Red Sox have some great young players. Their second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, won rookie of the year. They have Kevin Youkilis, a gold glove winning first baseman, one of the best young players in the league. Jacoby Ellsbury, the latest Sox Nation sensation. The rookie pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, even though he isn't the age of a normal rookie. Clay Buchholz, a rookie who threw a no hitter in August. Jonathan Papelbon, the Sox closer. Another pitcher, Jon Lester, is a young stud. And there is a player who is quickly climbing through the minor leagues, Jed Lowrie.
Dustin Pedroia started off slowly this year, but he picked it up and kept it up. He managed to hit .317 with a .380 on base percentage and a .442 slugging percentage. Some of you might bring up that he only had 50 RBIs, but he did bat leadoff most of the season. Also, Pedroia played in the playoffs with a BROKEN HAND! Can you believe that?! What a player. He didn't even tell anyone it was bothering him because he wanted to play.
Kevin Youkilis won the gold glove for a first baseman this year. Youkilis had an amazing first half, but then he was injured and he didn't seem to be the same for the rest of the season. Until the playoffs, that is. Before the half his average was .324, at the end it was .288. He had an on base percentage of .390 also. Youkilis has one of the best eyes in the game, drawing out 77 walks and almost always driving up the pitch count. He set a record this season for most consecutive games at first base without an error. All of this jsut three seasons into this major league career!
Jacoby Ellsbury has to be one of the fastest players in the MLB. Wow. Did anyone see that passed ball when Ellsbury was on second and went all the way to home and scored? That was amazing! Also, he gave all of America a free taco! What else could you ask for? Well, how about getting two hits and scoring a run in game 4 of the World Series, which the Red Sox won by one run by the way and 2 runs, 4 hits, and 2 RBIs in game 3?
Daisuke Matsuzaka was very expensive and might not have seemed worth it, but he could step it up next year. He was burned out because the season is so much longer than the Japanese season. Matsuzaka pitched well in two important games, game 7 of the ALCS and game 3 of the World Series, in which he had an RBI. Look at Josh Beckett, he went from disappointment in his first season here, to ace in his second.
Cly Buchholz is a great young pitcher. He only started 4 games and won 3 and lost the other. However, in his second major league start ever, he threw a no hitter against the Baltimore Orioles. How exciting it was to watch that game! He amazed me then. He had so much composure on the mound and he kept his cool the whole game. Then as his celebration all he did was a simple arm pump. His curveball is nasty and he is capable of getting the fastball by you. This kid was made to pitch.
Jonathan Papelbon, the Irish dance, the dominant closer, the young stud. So many names for such a great player. He moved from starter to closer and it was a great move. He blows the fastball by everyone and he finds good location. He is the perfect closer for this team. He replaced one of the greats, Keith Foulke. Just to imagine that Keith Foulke isn't missed even though he got the final out in the '04 World Series. Papelbon is charismatic and dominant, there isn't much more you can ask for.
Jon Lester. Have you heard a story much better than this one? This lefty was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2006 and he fought through it and got back to the major leagues in less than a year. In his first start back, against the Cleveland Indians, he got the win. Going 6 innings and allowing just 2 runs. Who would've thought that a pitcher would be diagnosed with lymphoma in 2006 then come back and start game 4 of the 2004 world series? And then win that game?
Jed Lowrie is a prospect in the Red Sox minor league at a position where the Red Sox need to find a solution, short stop. He is a switch hitter and, like Youkilis, drives up the pitch count. He was named the Seadog's MVP in 2007 and he was the Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year. He has average power for a short stop and has good speed.
Is this Sox team built to last? Hopefully. Well, we'll see in the next few years.