The additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez filled headlines this offseason. They also added more to the back end of the bullpen with Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. The biggest additions could be the players they have returning from injury. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron look to be healthy, and Josh Beckett is back in the rotation. With all of the additions, there are nearly as many question marks as predicted wins.
The starters outside of Lester and Buchholz are either worn down or overrated and sometimes both. Beckett has given no indication that he can return to his CY Young caliber form. Matsuzaka has never fulfilled what was expected. John Lackey may stabilize this year or the Red Sox may have wasted a massive amount of money. Lackey was not horrible, but for the amount he received, you do not want that to be the barometer. That gauge should be used for the eternal Tim Wakefield, whose days with the club may be numbered according to reports from Red Sox camp.
Team MVP Kevin Youkilis has moved to third base full time, but has never thrown across the diamond to Gonzalez. Pedroia and Scutaro, or Lowrie make a solid double play tandem no matter the combination. The offensive potential of this infield is almost unfair, and Gonzalez will make these players even better. His ability to scoop balls out of the dirt is unequaled.Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew make a fine defensive group on paper, but Ellsbury is considered average at best and Drew cannot stay on the field. That could change, as this is his walk year.
Red Sox faithful may look forward to an outfield rotation with Mike Cameron in the mix. He looks to be in great shape and more time off should help him to keep his 38 year old legs rested. The three left handed hitting outfielders means Cameron can spell them all and keep them fresh. This is a left handed heavy line up, so any way to mix it up with a righty will be welcomed.
David Ortiz somehow overcame the inevitable and finished strong in 2010. The impression is that he is around for nostalgia’s sake, and a stronger lineup that no longer leans on him.
Jerrod Saltalamacchia has been handed the starting catching job although he has done little to earn it. The Red Sox scouts are experts at their craft, so do not be surprised if he finally becomes the player everyone expected him to be. Do not be surprised either if Varitek ends up playing 130 games between DH and catcher. Far more than his legs can handle anymore.
The Bullpen should be their greatest asset, but Papelbon struggled for stretches last year. There is also a reason why Bobby Jenks is no longer with the other Sox. He’s lost some zip and his attitude has come into question. Daniel Bard is probably a future closer, but is really untested. Francona may need to lean on him this season more than he should.The injury history of this squad is long and that cannot be avoided. Francona did an admirable job filling holes and mixing and matching last year, and he may need to do more this year.
This team is just as likely to lose half of their starting lineup and pitching staff as they are to win 100 games.
This is a guest post from Jason F. of My Red Sox Yankees Tickets where you can buy Red Sox tickets against their biggest rival.