Monday, November 4, 2013

ReplicationNation: Could Sox Go Back To Back?

Even though we are still basking in the glow of DuckBoats, it's useful to consider whether the 2014 Carmine Hose can realistically compete for back-to-back World Series titles. Clearly, they will not return with the same 25 guys—chances are key players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarod Saltalamacchia, Stephen Drew and maybe even Mike Napoli could be in other laundry.

But a significant portion of the 'core' will be back—David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, David Ross, Craig Breslow, and Felix Doubront. Plus, Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, Jr. will likely round out the squad. And they may bring back some others who are set to become free agents. So, it looks like at least 15 players will be back in 2014. Is it enough to repeat? Considering how well everything had to go in 2013—from post-April Papi staying healthy; to Napoli's hip; to Lester, Lackey and Buchholz rebounding; to Iglesias and Bogaerts emerging; to Koji mesmerizing; to Victorino and Gomes 'clutching'; it's hard to see how it could all come together again. But you could make the case that this team—with another winter of brilliant tweaking by Ben Cheringtoncould seriously contend in the AL East. Of course, we will have a better read when pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers—in a tantalizingly short period of time.