12 February 2009
The Bottom Line polled Red Sox bloggers from across the Nation and asked them five questions about the upcoming season. You can find all the answers here.
Below are the answers to Question 4 :
4) Jon Lester filled in for Josh Beckett as the "ace" last season. Who will be the ace of the staff in 2009?
Kent from Boston Blogger - Josh Beckett
Peter from Peter's Red Sox Forever - Josh Beckett
JS from Baseball Heavy - Tim Wakefield will have a season that will shock and delight Boston.
Matt from Fenway West - Jon Lester has evolved into an ace, I think he will continue to be the best pitcher on the team. I just wonder if Tito gives him the nod on opening day.
Michael from Sox Addict - 2009 will be much like 2008 in that Beckett, Lester, and Dice-K will all fight to be the ace for the majority of the season. If Daisuke cuts down on his walks and tries to last more than 5 innings a start, he could EASILY be the ace of the staff. Unfortunately that's a big if.. when things are said and done, I'd bet that Lester ends up with the best numbers on the team.
Bob from Boston Sports Media Watch - Beckett is like the thug on that SNL sketch who beats Jerry Seinfeld to near death in a warehouse, then revives him on a handy operating table only to beat him again. Anyway, Red Sox Nation is Seinfeld, and Beckett's pumping us with 60 CCs of saline after the beating he gave us last year. Look for a full recovery behind a revamped ace, then get ready to duck again in 2010.
Chris from Boston Sports Buzz - Beckett reclaims ace status. He's got an option year for $12 million coming coming up and will want to get his hands on some of that Sabathia-esque money when it comes time to negotiate his next contract. The signings of Smoltz and Penny, as well as all the talk of how huge Lester and Matsuzaka (in spite of the several hundred walks he issued) were last year, should serve to motivate Beckett to work hard to have a solid season. Plus, if you look at his year-by-year breakdown, for whatever reason, he's always better in odd years, so he's due (if you believe in that kind of thing...).
Ian from Sox & Dawgs - I still think the ace of the staff is Beckett. Lester is right there though with him and another good year like last year could vault him into that spot. Keep an eye out though for Dice-K. As long as he comes back from the WBC healthy, you could see this "trio of aces" win about 50-60 games for the Red Sox this season.
Jeff from The House That Dewey Built - Lester morphed into a top of the rotation starter last year, and though he's still young, he took the innings bump last year pretty well, so I say the "ace" mantle is his until he gets it ripped from him. The Sox have a real good chance of having a very good rotation if Beckett bounces back. The old 1 and 1A cliche.
Dan from Red Sox Monster - I think Lester has a G.I. Joe kung fu grip on becoming a full-blown ace this year. If he can consistently perform at the level we saw in the latter half of 2008, I put the over-under at 18 wins, not that wins are the best indicator of performance.
Evan from Firebrand of the AL - Josh Beckett.
Cameron from Comcast's Wicked Good Sports: Now that I recognize the method-to-the-madness behind Dice K's erratic pitching, I think I'll see him as the ace in 2009. Bases loaded? Nobody out? A Dice-K fears not these things -- and nor shall I.
Bottom Line: Looks of good answers here, but Josh Beckett appears to be the clear favorite. Josh likes to pitch well on odd-numbered years, so we should see more of the 2007 Beckett in 2009... but Jon Lester will challenge him. I will say this about Lester: 2008 was his first full season in the bigs. Southpaws always present a challenge for hitters, but with a full year of data now available, Lester will have to work hard to keep hitters on their toes.
Oh, and Cameron wins "best answer" for his Yoda-like response to this question.
Who do you think will harness the force and emerge as the ace of 2009?
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