So I look pretty foolish after predicting last year that the Sox would go 77-85. But as a long, longtime Sox fan, it was in my blood to be pessimistic. Still is. So, I'm going to double down and predict that in 2014 the Sox go ... 77-85.
Oh, sure, it would be easy to jump on the bandwagon and declare them favorites to win the World Series. But consider, from Mike Carp and Shane Victorino all the way up to Big Papi, this was a group that greatly overperformed last year. It was awesome and it would be awesome if they would do it again. But more likely, they'll return to something closer to their historical statistical averages.
Given that, what have the Sox done to make themselves better? Well, they went out and got Grady Sizemore. I loved the deal, and still do, given the price tag. But there's a good chance he's going to get hurt. Beyond that, the Sox lost Jacoby Ellsbury, they replaced Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a catcher twice his age, they turned the all-important right side of the infield over to a couple of guys with less than a year of experience between the two of them combined, and they let their aging starting rotation get a year older without any infusion of young blood.
Meanwhile, the Yankees and the Orioles have both gotten better. And the Rays still have the best pitching staff in the division, not to mention a scary lineup that inclues Evan Longoria and Rookie of the Year Wil Myers.
So, think back to the 2005 Red Sox, who looked a lot like the 2004 Red Sox, but only managed to capture the Wild Card before being swept in the ALDS. Or the 2008 Red Sox, who at least managed to get as far as game 7 in the ALCS. The truth is, its very, very hard to repeat in the big leagues, even when your team is stacked. And the 2014 Sox ain't stacked.
So, my gut and my mind both say 77-85. I hope I'm wrong.