2005 Overview:

After finally breaking the 86-year curse of Babe Ruth not to mention performing one of the most miraculous comebacks in baseball history vs. the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox entered the 2005 season hopeful their good fortune would continue. Even though Curt Schilling’s ankle wasn’t 100% – the blueprint for 2005 began by adding newly acquired pitchers David Wells and Matt Clement to the starting rotation. But from the beginning of the season it was evident that Schilling’s ankle wouldn’t cooperate as he started only 3 games prior to the All Star break. Thankfully for Red Sox fans no one was running away with the AL East just yet.

It wasn’t hard for Boston to remain in the hunt for another AL East title especially with the lethal 1-2 offensive punch of Manny Ramieriz (.292 45 144) and David Ortiz (.300 47148) providing the bulk of the scoring. Outfielder Johnny Damon (.316 10 75) continued his impressive output as the Red Sox leadoff hitter while Trott Nixon (.275 13 67) and catcher Jason Varitek (.281 22 70) returned another season of impressive offensive numbers.

The starting pitching learned to live without Schilling with David Wells (15 7 4.45) assembling a decent season. Pitchers Matt Clement (13 6 4.57) and Tim Wakefield (16 7 4.15) also stepped up their game in order to keep the Red Sox and Yankees neck and neck until the last weekend series at Fenway. The Yankees won the season finale two games to one, leaving the Red Sox to face the Chicago White Sox in the Division Series. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, 2005 ended with a quick postseason departure as they were swept three games to none, losing game 3 in Fenway 5-3 to the White Sox.

Off Season Moves:

The chaos created by the initial departure of GM Theo Epstein proved beneficial for the Yankees who were able to snag free agent All Star Centerfielder Johnny Damon from under the Red Sox noses. Boston struck back days later completing a seven player deal with the Marlins netting 3rd baseman Mike Lowell (.236 8 58) starting pitcher Josh Beckett (15-8 3.37) and pitcher Guillermo Mota (2-2 4.70). Mota was later used to acquire outfielder Coco Crisp (.300 16 69 16 SB) who will be used to replace Damon in centerfield. Also picked up in the Crisp trade was reliever David Riske (3-4 3.10).

Other notable off season moves included trading Doug Mirabelli to the Padres for 2nd baseman Mark Loretta (.280 3 38) as well as sending infielder Edgar Renteria to the Braves for cash along with 3B Andy Marte. Additional moves included the Red Sox avoiding arbitration with infielder Tony Graffanino (.309 7 38) as well as adding pitcher Julian Tavarez (2-3 3.43) and outfielder J.T. Snow (.275 4 40).

2006 Analysis:

Expect the starting pitching for Boston to be stronger then last year with the addition of Josh Beckett and the anticipated rebound of Schilling. The Red Sox are also hoping that Wells will be more comfortable as the 3rd vs. number 1 starter – a role he was forced to assume when Schilling was unable to rebound from his 2004 ankle injury. The bullpen is upgraded with the addition of Tavarez and Riske. Expect Mike Timlin (7-3 2.24) Keith Foulke (5-5 5.91 15 saves) Jonathan Papelbon (3-1 2.65) and Bronson Arroyo (14-10 4.51) to pick up right where they left off last year.

Boston took it hard on the chin by losing Johnny Damon as his production and leadership will be missed but Crisp is a young player with a good deal of speed. Crisp posted career highs last year in runs (86), hits (178) and homers and the Red Sox are counting on him doing even more to fill the void left by Damon. Also expect Manny Ramieriz to be on the opening day roster as whispers of him leaving to the Orioles or Mets in some multi-team mega deal appear to be nothing more then fodder to sell newspapers. Few teams can manage Manny’s contract and the Red Sox seem to unwilling to offer and financial relief to any teams who have shown interest in acquiring him.


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