Given their batting average, writers should be barred from making predictions, present company included. It’s gotten to the point where the only useful purpose those predictions serve is as fodder for ridicule after the fact.
But we plunge on, nonetheless. Here are four predictions for 2014:
1. Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts makes the All-Star team as a rookie: The buildup for Bogaerts eclipses that of any Red Sox position prospect in recent memory, and that includes Nomar, who was ranked the 10th best prospect in the game by Baseball America in 1997. Jimy Williams tried to keep the pressure off Garciaparra in spring training that year, said he’d bat at the bottom of the lineup. Instead, he hit leadoff, swatted 30 home runs, led the league in triples with 11, stole 22 bases, was named an All Star and won the AL Rookie of the Year Award. The bar has been set high for Bogie, but he already showed last October he can handle it.
2. Jon Lester signs a five-year, $120 million contract extension: Four pitchers in Red Sox history have had six seasons or more in which they made at least 31 starts: Roger Clemens (8), Cy Young (8), Luis Tiant (6) and Jon Lester (6). Lester has won 15 or more games in five of those seasons, and enters his free-agent year at a time when teams have never been more willing to pay enormous premiums for top-of-the-rotation starters. Lester will be the same age John Lackey was (31) when he signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Sox, and he had elbow issues. It will take at least five years to keep Lester from testing the market, and an average salary of $24 million per might be conservative.
3. David Ortiz, who begins the season with 431 career home runs, says he plans to play until he hits 500: Ortiz has never made a fuss about hitting 500 home runs, but now that he is this close, there’s no reason for him not to stick around until he does it. He already is politicking for a new contract beyond next season.
4. Jacoby Ellsbury has at least one game-winning hit against the Sox in Fenway Park, and steals at least four bases in one game vs. Boston: Not exactly going out on a limb here. Ellsbury will give the Yankees great return for at least the first four years of his new deal, and the way he takes care of himself, it wouldn’t be a surprise in the least to see him still bedeviling the Sox in Year 7.
Check out ESPN Boston's 14 predictions for 2014 by CLICKING HERE.