If the Red Sox can make it into the ALCS, they're guaranteed a familiar opponent. While the running joke has been that the Oakland Athletics are basically a team of misfit Red Sox made great, there's no shortage of former Boston talent hanging around on Detroit's roster.
And should it come down to a Boston - Los Angeles World Series? Well, Brendan O'Toole ranked that as the most annoying possible narrative for good reason.
For now, though, that remains nothing more than a frightening hypothetical. So we can feel free to have some fun with the fact that there's so many Red Sox hanging around the playoffs. I give you the Postseason Ex-Sox:
Catcher -- Victor Martinez
Alright, we're already doing some twisting to make this work. Victor Martinez isn't a catcher anymore, and really, he wasn't much of one when he was in Boston. But it was him, Shoppach, or Federowicz. With Shoppach not even in the playoffs anymore and FedEx decidedly a bench player, well, Martinez it is. And, if he can keep up his bat at all while playing behind the plate, he's actually probably still reasonably valuable there.
First Base -- Adrian Gonzalez
Rumors of Gonzalez' revival have perhaps been overstated--his OBP is the exact same as it was in 2012, and his power numbers aren't up all that much, though adjusting for playing in LA helps some--but he's still a pretty good player, particularly when you consider his glove. That makes Gonzalez the easy choice for first over stone-glove Brandon Moss (who will make the team all-the-same).
Second Base -- Jed Lowrie
Oh Lowrie. So full of potential, but always hurt in Boston. Well, he finally put together a full season (154 games) in Oakland this year, and if he's not the world beater we saw at the plate in the second half of 2010, he's still a hugely valuable player when you combine his above-average middle infield bat and defensive versatility.
Shortstop -- Jose Iglesias
The bat is what it is. The glove is unmatched.
Third Base -- Hanley Ramirez
Hanley is pushed off his frankly-by-this-point-unnatural position by the aforementioned defensive wizard, bringing his better-than-ever bat with him to third base. If Adrian Gonzalez hasn't really been his old self, Ramirez has more than made up for the difference when healthy.
Left Field -- Carl Crawford
MOVING VERY QUICKLY ALONG.
Center Field -- Coco Crisp
Some people wonder about Jed Lowrie staying healthy, or Brandon Moss being good. Me, I wonder how Coco Crisp is 33-going-on-28. It feels like the guy was already leaving his prime when his time with the Red Sox came to an end, but five seasons later and he's actually just getting better? I am baffled. Billy Beane himself is probably a little confused. But hey, nobody is going to begrudge Coco his success.
Right Field -- Josh Reddick
You'll notice we're omitting a certain outfielder from Pittsburgh. That's because nobody should accept a reality wherein said outfielder is performing at such a level, and if we acknowledge it here they'll think they've won. I don't know who "they" are in this case, but I am sure they're up to something.
And Reddick is alright, I guess, though the reservations that led the Sox to trade him in the first place certainly seem to have been justified.
Designated Hitter -- Brandon Moss
We're all perpetually surprised that Moss has done what he's done away from Boston, but actually his career with the Red Sox produced a very reasonable batting line of .291/.348/.456. Of course, that's a full 90 points lower than his career-to-date with Oakland, and 42 points lower in OPS+. But still, the signs were there. A lot of his success in Oakland has to do with facing fewer lefty, but even as a full-time starter in 2013 he did just fine. Frankly, I wonder if this isn't the future for Mike Carp. Whatever the case, he slots in just fine at DH.
Starting Pitcher -- Anibal Sanchez
We could put together a pretty strong rotation of former Red Sox. Or we could pretend Bartolo Colon doesn't exist much in the way a certain outfielder from Pittsburgh doesn't exist because come on! And frankly if we're just going for a one-game look at this bunch of former Sox, you don't need anyone beyond Sanchez. The often overlooked portion of the Beckett trade has emerged as one of the game's best starters, plain-and-simple.
Closer -- Mark Melancon
Just to put together some tentative lineups:
Boston Red Sox
- Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
- Shane Victorino, RF
- Dustin Pedroia, 2B
- David Ortiz, DH
- Mike Napoli, 1B
- Daniel Nava, LF
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
- Stephen Drew, SS
- Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Starting Pitcher -- Jon Lester (Clay Buchholz?)
Boston Ex Sox
- Coco Crisp, CF
- Carl Crawford, LF
- Hanley Ramirez, 3B
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
- Brandon Moss, DH
- Victor Martinez, C
- Jed Lowrie, 2B
- Josh Reddick, RF
- Jose Iglesias, SS
Starting Pitcher -- Anibal Sanchez
Frankly, that seems like a really interesting matchup. I'd say Team Reality has the slight edge offensively, though that's in large part because I'm staunchly ignoring the existence of Marlon Byrd--dammit, there goes that--in favor of Josh Redick. Once that goes away it becomes a lot harder to favor either team in any area. Defensively things proably come down to whether we're playing in Fenway (where the Monster seems to kill Crawford and gives Nava a serious boost) and just how bad Martinez is behind the plate. On the mound the question is whether we're talking full-strength Buchholz or just really good Lester?
One thing that seems certain: at some point the Ghosts of Red Sox Past will come back to haunt the current team. Hell, James Loney already made things nice and tense in Game 2 of the ALDS. The only question is if the Real Sox can keep overcoming those visitations.