MLB Picks: Boston Red Sox Team Total Over 79.5

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, February 28, 2013 9:17 PM GMT

This season is much different than those in recent memory for the Boston Red Sox. Unlike in years past, this 2013 edition comes with modest expectations but how good, or bad, is this team? Let's discuss.

2012 Record: 69-93

Welcome: SP Ryan Dempster (FA from Texas), SS Stephen Drew (FA from Oakland), OF Jonny Gomes (FA from Oakland), CL Joel Hanrahan (Trade from Pittsburgh), 1B/C Mike Napoli (FA from Texas), C David Ross (FA from Atlanta), OF Shane Victorino (FA from Los Angeles Dodgers), RHP Koji Uehara (FA from Texas).

Goodbye: SP Aaron Cook (FA to Philadelphia), 1B James Loney (FA to Tampa Bay), SP Daisuke Matsuzaka (FA to Cleveland), RHP Mark Melancon (Trade to Pittsburgh), RHP Vicente Padilla (FA to Japan), OF Scott Podsednik (FA), OF Cody Ross (FA to Arizona).

What do the AL East MLB Odds say about Boston's chances to win the division?

Nowhere to go but up

Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. If that's the criteria then the Boston Red Sox should be loaded with experience after last year. The 2012 season was an abomination for Boston and an embarrassment to every card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation. It started with management's handpicked choice to replace the iconic Terry Francona who brought a pair of World Series victories to a town that had endured generations of failure.

Bobby Valentine was an old school opinionated retread who management believed was just the guy to break up the country club atmosphere that had slowly pervaded Francona's crew. But disciplining multimillionaires with guaranteed contracts is a little like asking teenage girls to sit still at a Justin Bieber concert. It ain't happening. Big money free agents like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez fit right in with the malcontents like Josh Beckett and the other nabobs of negativity who roamed the clubhouse.

It was a disaster but the Sox cleaned house and shipped all those long term contracts to the West Coast, hired a new manager in John Farrell and signed a few "character" guys that should loosen the mood during the long and arduous 162-game season.

Find out which sportsbooks are offering the best MLB Futures odds for your picks this year?

Starting Pitching: C

1. Jon Lester, L (2012 Record - 9-14, Innings Pitched 205.1, ERA 4.82)

2. Clay Buchholz, R (2012 Record -11-8, Innings Pitched 189.1, ERA 4.56)

3. Ryan Dempster, R (2012 Record - 12-8, Innings Pitched 173.0, ERA 3.38)

4. Felix Doubront, L (2012 Record - 11-10, Innings Pitched 161.0, ERA 4.86)

5. John Lackey, R  (Injured in 2012)

*Franklin Morales, L (2012 Record - 3-4, Innings Pitched 76.1, ERA 3.77)

Pitching wins baseball games and that is one of the primary reasons why the Red Sox were so woeful last season. Long gone and hard to find is Josh Beckett who some say negatively influenced Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Perhaps that's true but if two grown men can fall so precipitously under someone's spell then blowing out an elbow is less of a concern than replacing their backbone.

However, if both pitchers can return to form and Ryan Dempster can rekindle some of the magic he had earlier in his career and John Lackey can at least contribute something then maybe the Boston starting five can surprise.

Relief Pitching: A+

Closer: Joel Hanrahan, R (2012 - Appearances 63, ERA 2.72, WHIP 1.27)

Andrew Bailey, R (2012 - Appearances 19, ERA 7.04, WHIP 1.89)

Koji Uehara, R (2012 - Appearances 37, ERA 1.75, WHIP 0.64)

Junichi Tazawa, R (2012 - Appearances 37, ERA 1.43, WHIP 0.96)

Craig Breslow, L (2012 - Appearances 23, ERA 2.70, WHIP 1.15)

Daniel Bard, R (2012 - Appearances 17, ERA 6.22, WHIP 1.74)

Andrew Miller, L (2012 - Appearances 53, ERA 3.35, WHIP 1.19)

Alfredo Aceves, R (2012 - Appearances 69, ERA 5.36, WHIP 1.32)

When you've got three closers on your team then you have the basis for one helluva relief corps. Daniel Bard was the heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon, who took the money and ran to Philly in 2011, until management decided Bard should be a starter...not. The Sox then drooled over Andrew Bailey and plucked him from the Astros as Papelbon's successor but Bailey got injured last year which in turn scared the Sox this year which is why they made the move for coveted Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. Add to the mix a few foreign imports in Uehara and Tazawa and the Red Sox have more relief than a warehouse full of Advil.

At the Plate: B

The Starters (AVG/OBP/SLUG)

C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, S (.222/.288/.454 in 121 games)

1B: Mike Napoli, R (.227/.343/.469 in 108 games)

2B: Dustin Pedroia, R (.290/.347/.449 in 141 games)

3B: Will Middlebrooks, R (.288/.325/.509 in 75 games)

SS: Stephen Drew, L (.223/.309/.348 in 79 games)

LF: Jonny Gomes, R (.262/.377/.491 in 99 games)

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury, L (.271/.313/.370 in 74 games)

RF: Shane Victorino, S (.255/.321/.383 in 154 games)

DH: David Ortiz, L (.318/.415/.611 in 90 games)

This isn't the ferocious lineup the Red Sox have sported in the past but it still has vestiges of its former glory with Pedroia, Ellsbury and Ortiz in the mix. Defensively they may sputter a bit with Mike Napoli, a former catcher, manning first base while Jonny Gomes is average at best in left field.

2013

This is a better ballclub than most people suspect, especially the MLB odds makers in Vegas. Now I'm not suggesting this team will win a World Series or even the AL East but I do believe they will be competitive enough to be a winning ball club which would make them better than a .500 team. Therefore, one of the best MLB betting options on the board this season is Over 79 ½ wins for the Boston Red Sox.