By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
Before everyone loses their freaking minds, the only Red Sox players who are eligible for this roster are those who ACTUALLY played on a Red Sox World Series team THIS century. So Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, and Craig Kimbrel are ineligible.
Here is my 21st Century Red Sox World Series Roster:
1 – Johnny Damon CF
This was a tough choice between Damon and Ellsbury. The latter was here for two of the three world series wins. However, Ellsbury never hit a single home run, nor had any major impact in either championship. Damon heroically hit a go-ahead grand slam off 2004 Yankees game seven starter, Kevin Brown, to essentially put the final nail in their coffin. One year later he sold out and signed with the Yankees. But so did Ellsbury.
2 – Kevin Youkilis 1B
Despite the fact Kevin Millar set up the iconic stolen base by Dave Roberts off of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to ultimately reverse the curse, Kevin Youkilis was by far the most productive first baseman on all three rosters. Youk would not be considered a two hole hitter, but his career post season .376 OBP would easily justify placing him towards the top of the order, especially with the depth of talent between the three championship teams.
3 – David Ortiz DH
Without Big Papi, it’s very possible the curse would still be alive today. In fact, if the Red Sox had never won any of the previous three world series’, this year would have marked the 100th year of the curse. Ortiz was already considered to be the most clutch hitter in Boston post season history, but no moment could emphasize this more than his epic grand slam against the Tigers in game two of the 2013 ALCS. He is the most important player this franchise has ever known.
4 – Manny Ramirez LF
Say what you want about the steroids. Ramirez is undoubtedly the greatest right handed hitter to wear a Red Sox uniform since Ted Williams. No more needs to be said.
5 – Mike Lowell 3B
Not too difficult of a decision here. Bill Mueller definitely made his stamp in Red Sox history by batting in Dave Roberts after his iconic steal. However, Lowell was the 2007 World Series MVP, and in my opinion is the best to play third base since Wade Boggs over a decade earlier.
6 – Shane Victorino RF
This was perhaps the toughest choice of any position. Trot Nixon, J.D. Drew, and Shane Victorino all made their marks in each championship post season. I went with Victorino due to how clutch he was in the 2013 post season. Not to mention following the tragedies of the marathon bombing, he was the right corner outfielder at the right time.
7 – Jason Varitek C
The captain was the easiest choice of all. Everyone loves David Ross, but Varitek could always walk the tight rope with his pitching staffs. Offensively Varitek could hit for power from both sides of the plate. His finger prints are all over both of the 2004 and 2007 championships.
8 – Dustin Pedroia 2B
Pedey all the way down in the eight hole? I’m afraid so. Truth be told, Pedroia actually sucks in the post season. He’s only got a .233 average, and sub par numbers all across the board. The only other choice was Mark Bellhorn. But don’t worry Pedroia Huggers, he’s still awesome.
9 – Julio Lugo SS
I really had to research the numbers for short stop. Stephen Drew and Orlando Cabrera really had no offensive impact during their respective playoff runs. Lugo was never great in the regular season, but did have a decent post season in 2007. Bogaerts did not make the cut because he played so little of the 2013 post season, which was entirely at third base.
Starting Pitching Rotation:
Game One: Curt Schilling
I’m not a big fan of Schilling the person, but you have to be a big fan of Schilling the player. When the pressure was high and Boston’s back was against the wall, he always came through in big moments. Including in 2004 in game six of the ALCS only hours after having a minor surgical procedure on a table in the Red Sox clubhouse. If only Clay Buchholz and David Price had his toughness.
Game Two: Jon Lester
Lester also had the right mentality to handle the pressure of playing in Boston. In 2007 he started the clinching game of that particular championship, and was nearly un-hittable the entire 2013 post season.
Game Three: Pedro Martinez
Pedro’s best years were behind him by the time the 2004 post season rolled around, but he was still highly effective, and played a big role in elevating the Red Sox into that big moment.
Game Four: Josh Beckett
I had to include the 2007 ALCS MVP. Many Boston fans held a great deal of contempt for Beckett throughout his tenure. However, I always admired his tenacity because he could back it up on the mound.
Game Five: Derek Lowe
Lowe was the classic example of a pitcher who simply rose to the occasion in big moments. He pitched game seven against the Yankees in 2004 for the series clinch, and started the final game of the World Series the following week. He had a perfect 3-0 record that October.
Jonathan Papelbon (C)
ICYMI: AVIDBOSTON PODCAST EPISODE 28: THE JD MARTINEZ/ROB MANFRED EDITION!
Also available on iTunes!