A quick winter review and look ahead to spring training which is less than 30 days away.

New Faces:

The Sox brought in a bit of new blood led by a top-of-the-rotation starter in Daisuke Matsuzaka, a new shortstop with a lethal bat and ok glove, Julio Lugo, and they will eventually sign J.D. Drew to play right field. In addition, they brought in four new arms for the bullpen: the OTHER Japanese import Hideki Okajima (likely to pitch in Pawtucket), set-up men extraordinaire J.C. Romero and Brendan Donnelly, and the most controversial closer candidate of the off-season (well, other than Soloman Torres in Pittsburgh), Joel Pineiro.

Out with the Old:

The Sox happily said goodbye to shortstop Alex Gonzalez and right-fielder Trot Nixon. In addition, they let former closer Keith Foulke and all-star second baseman Mark Loretta walk away. With Drew, Lugo, and Dustin Pedroia expected to step right into RF, SS, and 2B respectively, the Sox really have one question mark: the bullpen.


Basically, the Sox did the smartest thing and took a mish-mash of relief pitchers, will mix them up in March and April, and see who sticks at closer. The closer (or co-closers) will be from the pile of pitchers including Mike Timlin, Joel Pineiro, Craig Hansen, Brendan Donnelly, Edgar Martinez, J.C. Romero, and Manny Delcarmen. Heck, those seven make a nice mix of old and young in a pen. I would say it, but I think it is a dirty word in these parts still, but closer-by-committee anyone?


Here is how I see the Sox shaking things out:

1B: Kevin Youkilis: Speed? Like the Sox steal bases anyway!
SS: Julio Lugo: Perfect in the #2 hole. He should feast on fastballs with the big boys behind him.
DH: David Ortiz: Answer: Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. Question: Who are the only threats in baseball the crown as greatest clutch hitter in the game? (Sit down, A-Rod!)
LF: Manny Ramirez: Teddy Ballgame, Yaz, Rice, Greenie, and Manny. Guess which one will not get in the Hall of Fame?
RF: J.D. Drew: Finally, the perfect complement to Manny and Papi.
3B: Mike Lowell: 50 doubles is the goal for Lowell
C: Jason Varitek: At this point, any offense is a plus.
CF: Coco Crisp: Without Big Papi and Manny behind him, he should steal 40 bases.
2B Dustin Pedroia: no pressure and a chance to run if on base

Super-powered Staff:

Right now, I doubt there is another set of arms that can match-up with the Red Sox rotation:

SP: Curt Schilling: No way he retires at the end of the year. Look for the Roger Deal to kick-in for Curt in 2008. The Hall of Fame is so close, and with his post-season success, it will only take 250 wins.
SP: Josh Beckett: Will the nasty stuff come back now that he is blister-free?
SP: Daisuke Matsuzaka: Think dominant.
SP: Jonathan Papelbon: His shoulder is the only question mark.
SP: Tim Wakefield: #2 or 3 guy on most staffs.
SP: Jon Lester: If he bounces back from the cancer, it would be such a great feel-good story. He has the stuff to succeed and the Sox could use a southpaw in the rotation.


The depth is there.

OF/1B: Wily Mo Pena: He is a younger Big Papi in training. He is not even 26 so give Wily Coyote some time.
1B/3B/OF: Eric Hinske: What happened to Hinske? Is there any chance he bounces back?
C: Doug Mirabelli: Well, at least my wife will be happy he is back for prime ogling every fifth game (only in my household is Shakey-Wakey starts Must-See TV). Of course, her sisters are still in mourning over the departures of Trot Nixon and Gabe Kapler.
SS/2B: Alex Not Joey Cora: Best utility infielder in baseball.
OF/1B: David Murphy: should win the job, but a year in Pawtucket would probably be better development-wise. Do not be surprised to see Terry Francona fall in love with some player in camp on a minor-league deal like Joe McEwing and have him take over the last roster spot.

Final Analysis:

With a few spots still up in the air, here are how the stats breakdown on the roster (thanks to BaseballProspectus.com for doing the dirty work):

RH Batters: 7
LH Batters: 5
Switch-hitters: 2
RH Pitchers: 15
LH Pitchers: 7
Average age: 29.4

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Anonymous said…
I'll be oogling Dougie along with your wife, there, buddy! :)