Key Additions—Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks
Key Losses—Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre
Lineup—It is pretty obvious that the additions of AGon and Crawford are absolutely huge benefits to this lineup, however I think at times we are underestimating what losing Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre will do. Beltre had a great year last year, so it is going to take a huge year from AGon to duplicate that effort, and they are obviously much worse at catcher this season. Honestly, if I were Theo Epstein I would get a defensive catcher and forget that position offensively, but apparently he wants to see if Jarrod Saltalamacchia can finally live up to his potential. Defensively their outfield is outstanding, but Crawford’s ability will get lost for 81 games playing outfield in Fenway. And I still question whether David Ortiz can hit like he did the 2nd half of 2010. All in all, this lineup is very potent, I just think there are more questions marks than what is being talked about.
Rotation—Just imagine what would happen if John Lackey goes back to being Lackey, and Dice-K returns to 2008 form when he went 18-3 with a sub 3.00 ERA. Combining these 2 with Lester and a healthy Beckett, along with Clay Buchholtz, who was probably as under appreciated as anyone last year, and this could be a rotation right up there with the Phillies. Realistically, if these 5 are able to stay healthy and pitch to their potential, you have the makings of one of the best 1-5 staffs of all time.
Bullpen—With the addition of Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks, to go along with Daniel Bard setting up Jonathan Papelbon, this bullpen should have plenty of options to shut down the opposing teams. A big key is going to be Papelbon, and whether he can keep his head on straight and return to his previous form despite not getting a commitment long term from the Red Sox. If Bard and Jenks are pitching well, I could see Papelbon being dealt, however there are very few holes that need to be filled. This bullpen has a great mix of power arms and experience.
Impact Rookie—Jose Iglesias, SS. Marco Scutaro and Jed Lawrie will hold down the position until Iglesias is ready with the bat. The Cuban defector will spend most of the year in AAA Pawtucket, but his glove might expedite his arrival in Boston. Boston shouldn’t have any trouble scoring runs so having the smooth fielding Iglesias in the lineup might be worth sacrificing offense down the stretch.
Outlook—As I mentioned, I am not thrilled with their catcher position, and doubt how healthy JD Drew and Dustin Pedroia can be, but this team is stacked 1-25. Their starting pitching has the ability to go on stretches where they are just dominating teams, and I think the addition of Gonzalez defensively is a huge benefit. I really like this team, and think Theo has done an outstanding job of putting this team in a position to compete for another title.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent.
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