Manager Bobby Valentine has a bit of work to do this spring in Boston Red Sox camp. It will not be easy to erase the players' memories of what was a dizzying downward September spiral. Gone are Jonathan Papelbon (who gave up the hit that gave away the season) and Terry Francona, but ghosts will follow the team around until they get on the field and begin to dominate opponents.
It should not take long.
The Red Sox are a strong team from top to bottom, perhaps not as deep as they would like, but certainly very talented at the top end. Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury are three of the 10 or 12 best position players in the American League, and they are not alone. Talent abounds in Boston.
It may take time for the Red Sox to gel and for Valentine to figure out how best to juggle a roster with many solid, but limited, role players. When it clicks, though, it will click firmly, and things will get better fast. Here is a full preview of the team's race toward October.
This is the fourth of 30 team previews in 30 days, leading up to the start of the 2012 MLB regular season.
Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Matt Trueblood offers insight on all facets of each club, profiles their manager, raise key questions, identifies risers and fallers and lays out run matrices for each team based on his proprietary 2012 projections. Check back daily for the next team in the series, or follow Trueblood on Twitter: