WTNYSeptember 26, 2003
Boston Red Sox
By Bryan Smith

Theo Epstein will give it another go in 2003-2004, as he had a good first trial. There are some huge decisions to make, as the Yankees should be stacked next season.

David Ortiz is a free agent, and there is no way the team will let its newfound hero leave. Look for him to make hefty money, somewhere in the $4M per year range. Kevin Millar will be back next year, as will Nomar Garciaparra and Bill Mueller. The question about Mueller is where? The team could go after a 2B (Re-sign Walker? Graffanino?), or move Mueller there and put Kevin Youkilis at third. But Youkilis is likely part of a deal for pitching, so expect the first option to happen. The oufield will not change, but I doubt Gabe Kapler will return.

There is pitching on this team, just not a lot of it. Pedro leads the rotation, and Derek Lowe will undoubteduly have his option picked up. Tim Wakefield also has a rotation spot locked up. The interesting story will be Jeff Suppan, who has struggled as a Red Sox, and has a $4M option next season. I advise the team to pick that up, because in the least he'll match Jon Lieber in IP and effectiveness. Plus, it only leaves one hole in that rotation.

As I eluded earlier, I expect that spot to be filled by Javier Vazquez or Bartolo Colon. Vazquez won't cost too much, somewhere in the range of Kevin Youkilis, Jorge De La Rosa, and Casey Fossum. Vazquez has had a monster second half, and would definitly be able to match Jose Contreras. If Boston lands him, I will likely include Javier in my list of most likely to win the 2004 Cy Young.

While people have made a lot out of bullpen problems, the team has some decent options. Byung-Hyun Kim will return, and he's done a much better job in Boston than given credit for. Scott Williamson has struggled in a Boston uniform, but just needs an offseason to work out his troubles. As do Scott Sauerbeck and Ramiro Mendoza, who have had disappointing season. Alan Embree has been inconsistent, but the team can depend on him when they need it. Bronson Arroyo, the International Cy Young, will fill the long spot very well. That leaves room for one set-up man to replace Mike Timlin. Expect whoever it is to be a big name, one of the Armando Benitez variety. Theo Epsein is a genius, and I would put him ahead of Billy Beane for all those who want to know.