AL East Preview: Boston Red Sox
With two weeks to go until pitchers and catchers report, it's time to review the offseason acquisitions of the AL teams.
Let's start off with the AL runner-ups of 2008, the Boston Red Sox.
SP Josh Beckett
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP Jon Lester
SP Tim Wakefield
SP John Smoltz/Brad Penny/Clay Buchholz/Justin Masterson
Strong rotation, but there are concerns whether Jon Lester and Dice-K can repeat the success of 2008, whether John Smoltz and Brad Penny can come back from injuries, and whether Tim Wakefield will be effective.
On the positive side, there are many strong arms in the Red Sox system, including Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, and others. Junichi Tazawa's upside is still up in the air, though. In addition, Masterson can be stretched out to be a starter.
CP Johnathon Papelbon
SU Takashi Saito(if healthy)
RP Ramon Ramirez
RP Hideki Okajima
RP Manny Delcarmen
RP Javier Lopez
RP Justin Masterson
There are still questions about long relief (if any), and Wes Littleton's role is up in the air, as he is out of Minor League options. In addition, there are some health concerns with Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito.
Starting Lineup (Not in batting order.. that is TBD)
Strong starting nine, but there are concerns about the decline of Ortiz and Lowell, along with JD Drew's injuries. In addition, will Jason Varitek's bad 2008 be a sign of things to come for his future? Can Jed Lowrie be a major-league ready shortstop? Are Youkilis and Pedroia's 2008 numbers an anomaly?
Red Sox Bench
C Bard or Kottaras(Kottaras is out of options)
Nice addition with Baldelli, but can he stay healthy, due to his health problems when he played for the Rays. Lugo is currently owed over $9M in his contract, meaning he will likely be used as a utility man, replacing departing 2B/SS Alex Cora. Kotsay returns after some success late last season.
Still up in the air is the backup catching position, with Bard in decline, Kottaras out of options, and a need for a catcher who can catch Tim Wakefield's knuckleballs.
The Red Sox should be strong again, keeping up with the Tampa Bay Rays overall. However, offensive declines in Ortiz and Lowell could be a red flag. In addition, will their pitching stay strong in 2008?
Projected record: 90-95 wins (may drop if injuries occur).
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