If you missed the first half of my Red Sox All-Favorites team last week, make sure to check it out now so you can get a feel for how I’ve built my roster. Again, this is not my attempt at assembling a roster full of the greatest Red Sox to ever play the game. This is just a team of my favorite Red Sox that I’ve seen play. These aren’t the greatest to ever play each position, they’re just the guys I enjoyed watching the most.


Starting Rotation

Pedro Martinez – Ace

In terms of compiled stats of Red Sox pitchers post-Cy Young, Pedro ranks second in most categories. But his reign of dominance from the second he first donned a Red Sox cap until he departed in free agency is, in my opinion, the greatest tenure of any starting pitcher since the dead ball era. He reached his peak in his final year in Montreal, then came to Boston for (at the time) an absurd contract of six years, $75 million. All he did from there was win two Cy Youngs, finish in the top five in Cy Young voting four other times, lead the pitching staff that brought home the first Red Sox championship in 86 years, and deliver the two best back-to-back pitching campaigns since the days of Sandy Koufax. At the height of his powers, Pedro undisputedly had the best fastball, curveball, and by far the best changeup in all of Major League Baseball. All his starts were appointment viewing, and his presence alone elevated the Red Sox from a group of lovable losers to a team not to be f***ed with.

Roger Clemens – Co-Anchor

The second arm out of the gate for my Red Sox All-Favorites team compiled the best statistics of any Red Sox pitcher in modern history. It felt like a crime against Boston when Dan Duquette and the inept Yawkey family let him walk after 1996. It hurt even more when he got on the juice two minutes after he crossed the border and immediately transformed from a pudgy star on the decline into a legendary workout fiend. The Rocket won 41 games and two Cy Youngs in his first two seasons in Toronto after winning 20 games with a 3.91 ERA in his final two years in Boston. Couldn’t he have taken some roids before he left us instead of waiting until he left to get on the gas???
He did win three Cy Youngs and an MVP in Boston though, and he would’ve won his first ring here (instead of the Bronx) if not for a few scamps named Schiraldi, Stanley, and Buckner. I’ve still never seen anybody throw a better splitter, which, combined with his upper-90s high heat, is on the Mount Rushmore of all-time 1-2 pitch combinations. He was the most intimidating starting pitcher the game has ever seen aside from Nolan Ryan. And that says a hell of a lot for Ryan, who never threw a damn bat at an opponent during a game.

Josh Beckett – Mid-Rotation Beast

The best season of his career resulted in Boston’s second championship since 1918, and if Cy Young voting took playoff performance into consideration he’d have probably beaten out C.C. Sabathia for the 2007 crown. Beckett is the number three in my Red Sox All-Favorites rotation largely because of that single season, which was downright masterful. Josh could eliminate any lineup in the game for seven innings that season using just his fastball, displaying pinpoint command all year and winning 20 of his 30 starts over 200.1 innings pitched. He toyed with the Angels, Indians, and Rockies in his four postseason starts, winning the ALCS MVP and routinely dropping f-bombs in post-game press conferences just because he f***in’ felt like it. It’s a shame that the Yankees couldn’t overcome the midges in Cleveland and qualify for the ALCS that season, because Beckett and the Red Sox would’ve embarrassed them so badly that they’d have had to sit out the 2008 season to recover from it. The 2007 Red Sox were a freight trai with Beckett, Manny, and Papi serving as the engineers. Even Josh’s indiscretions were bada$$. His response to boozing in the clubhouse during games in the middle of the 2011 collapse?

Jon Lester – Lord Lefty

Not a bad guy to have in the back of my Red Sox All-Favorites rotation, huh?
He was co-ace until Beckett left town, then took the reigns solo in time to front a World Series run in 2013. A lot of Red Sox fans forget that it took Jon a while to iron out his command issues and grow into his eventual frontline role, but he paid his dues in spades. He won the World Series-clinching Game 4 with 5.2 shutout innings, his 2008 no-hitter against the Royals elevated him in my mind from damn good pitcher to legitimate DUDE. He won four of his five postseason starts as a battle-hardened veteran in 2013, but the sad writing was on the wall immediately thereafter when his open-mindedness to a “hometown discount” was met with a Larry Lucchino eye-roll of an extension offer. That very offer jumpstarted Lucchino’s falling out with John Henry and Tom Werner, and with good reason. Lester deserved way better, and he showed it with four more quality years and a third ring in Chicago before staggering to the end of his career.

Aaron Sele – King of All Fives

Sele had the position of replacing Roger Clemens as the ace of the 1997 Red Sox, a position that’s about as enviable as a kick to the crotch. He was out the door one year later and off to Texas, where he naturally became an All-Star right away and won 69 games over the next four years. Sele was one of those guys who was far better as an understudy than as a leading man, and I think that’s why he won me over early on. He had a sensational rookie year, boasting a 2.74 ERA in 18 starts, and excelled in limited time due to injury over the next two years. I was an impressionable youngster when I was introduced to him in 1993 and remained a big fan for the rest of his career, which amazingly lasted until 2007!
The guy was a survivor, and his career lives on to this day on my Red Sox All-Favorites team.



Koji Uehara – Closer

Much like Beckett, this critical role on my Red Sox All-Favorites team is bestowed on a guy largely because of his outstanding performance in a single season. Koji’s 2013 is legitimately the best season a Red Sox closer has ever had. He was the third option for the role that season, taking the closer mantle only after legends like Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey (who would go on to become the Professor Charles Xavier of pitching) proved themselves unworthy of the designation. Falling back-asswards into the closer role, Koji took our collective breath away with a 1.06 ERA, 21 saves, 101 strikeouts, nine walks and one wild pitch in 74.1 innings. Koji perfectly embodied the essence of the 2013 Red Sox. Nobody knew who he was, he wasn’t supposed to be any good, he stumbled into a year of storybook brilliance, and he was never that good ever again.

Mike Timlin – RH Setup Man

He pitched at least 68 games every year from 2003 – 2006. In other words, you could count on Mike Timlin coming out of the bullpen just about every other day during the height of his Red Sox tenure. He then pitched to a 3.42 ERA in a paltry 50 appearances during the 2007 championship season at age 41. His stats didn’t pop off the page and he wasn’t a postseason stud, but he was lights out in the ill-fated 2003 playoff run. Who knows how Game 7 of the ALCS would’ve shaken out if Grady Little gave Pedro the hook in the seventh inning and handed the ball over to Timlin? He was the primary righthanded setup man on two championship teams in Boston, and he was an important part of two others in Toronto in 1992 and 1993. Only 71 Major Leaguers have ever won four championships, meaning Mike Timlin has experienced more postseason success than 99.7% of all players in MLB history.

Hideki Okajima – LH Setup Man

Okie was a two-year wonder who became a Boston legend as a 31-year-old rookie setting up Jonathan Papelbon in 2007. He had 27 holds that year (plus four more in October) with a 2.22 ERA before mowing down the Angels and Indians over 7.1 innings in the ALDS and ALCS. He sputtered a bit against the Rockies in the World Series, but he still earned holds in all three of his appearances in the four-game sweep. Opponents hit only .202 against him in 69 innings pitched that year, with righties surprisingly hitting only .182. You don’t often find lefty relievers who dominate righties like that, making him a particularly lethal weapon late in games. Aside from his stellar performance in 2007 and 2008, we all loved Okie for his incredibly weird delivery. He looked straight down at the ground as he released the ball, which undoubtedly screwed with the minds of hitters and added to his effectiveness. Okajima was an indispensable piece on an absolutely loaded championship team. More importantly, he’s the primary lefty in my Red Sox All-Favorites bullpen.

Alan Embree – Middle Reliever

Embree was Mike Timlin’s lefthanded brother from another mother. They had identical ERAs (4.13) in a nearly identical number of appearances the year the Curse was broken (76 for Timlin, 71 for Embree). They each took their lumps over the course of 2003 and 2004, but they were entrusted with many of the highest leverage innings during that time and each came through in the biggest spots. Throughout the 2003 and 2004 playoffs, Embree surrendered a total of two runs and two walks in 14 innings over 19 appearances. For his career, he had a 1.66 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched over 31 appearances. You’d have to do some serious digging to find a lefty reliever who was more reliable in the clutch than Alan Embree.

Jonathan Papelbon – Strikeout Specialist

Every team finds themselves in numerous close-and-late situations where they absolutely need a K throughout the year. Bases loaded, nobody out, sixth inning. Second and third, one out, seventh inning. The times when you don’t want to bring in your setup man or closer yet, but you desperately want someone who can shove high-90s heat past anybody. Papelbon was a great closer for years, but in a world where 2013 Koji is on my team, I want Pap in that desperation strikeout role. He can even strip down and Riverdance after the inning if he gets the job done.

Greg Harris – Switch-Pitcher

Greg Harris enjoyed a 14-year career as a righthanded journeyman of varying success for nine different teams. He appeared in 703 games and started 98 with a 3.69 career ERA. The greatest success he ever achieved was leading the American League with 80 appearances for a crappy Red Sox team in 1993. So why, you ask, is he on my Red Sox All-Favorites team? Because of what he could have been.
Greg Harris could pitch with both hands. He even wore a specially made six-fingered glove with a second thumb slot beside his right pinky slot in case he ever got permission to switch over and pitch lefthanded. Nobody ever allowed him to switch hands until his penultimate Major League game, when Expos manager Felipe Alou gave him the green light in the ninth inning. Harris retired the first hitter pitching righthanded, switched to lefty for the next two hitters, Hal Morris (walk) and Ed Taubensee (groundout), and then switched back to righty to get the third out. It always bugged me that neither Joe Morgan nor Butch Hobson ever experimented with Harris as MLB’s first modern era switch-pitcher.
Well, there’s always room on my Red Sox All-Favorites team for a guy who can create that kind of matchup nightmare for the opposition. Greg Harris, we hardly knew ye.

Tim Wakefield – Long Relief

Knuckleballers can pitch forever, and they are the perfect option in a blowout or when the rest of the bullpen is gassed with no off-days in sight. Wake can give a spot start if a starting pitcher gets dinged up, or even slide into the rotation long-term if someone needs to take a stint on the Injured List. Knucklers are really hard to catch though, and I’m not going to sign Doug Mirabelli as a third catcher just to account for Wakefield. So in this world where Wake is still with us and this Red Sox All-Favorites team is actually assembled, John Marzano is going to have to move in with Tim and do some serious offseason cramming to figure out how to catch “a butterfly with hiccups,” as Willie Stargell once said.
R.I.P. Wake.

Tom Gordon – Swiss-Army Knife

Tom Gordon played in 20 MLB seasons. He won 17 games one year for the Royals, and he saved 46 games nine years later for the Red Sox. He had 890 career appearances, 203 starts, 138 wins, 158 saves, and 121 holds. He’s one of the rare human beings to ever reach the top of the game as a starting pitcher, a closer, a setup man, and a member of my Red Sox All-Favorites team.
In 1997, the year after Aaron Sele followed Roger Clemens out of Boston, Gordon was the Red Sox Opening Day starter and ace until August, when Dan Duquette finally traded Heathcliff Slocumb and all his nonsense to Seattle for a couple future stars. Gordon was thrust into the closer role out of desperation, where he successfully closed 11 of his 13 save opportunities. He set a Red Sox record in 1998 with 46 saves, including 43 in a row. He hung around MLB through 2009, becoming a top setup/middle relief arm in the latter part of his career with a cameo as an All-Star closer for Philadelphia in ’06. “Flash” was at the top of the game in every pitching role there is. Regardless of how stacked my Red Sox All-Favorites team may be, there will literally always be a place on the roster for Tom Gordon.

By Luke

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