Red Sox and Spring Training: What Could Be Better?

Paul StevensContributor IFebruary 9, 2009

The smell of spring and it is time for baseball. This is an exciting time of the year. Questions arise while hope abounds. Who could ask for anything more? If you are a Red Sox fan, you have a new legacy to uphold. It is no longer, let's try and see what happens. If we falter, we will always wait until next year. Red Sox Nations claims that now is the time. We believe in our Red Sox.

Theo and staff have put together what might be the best bullpen in baseball. The starting rotation looks solid. Yes, there are a few concerns. Will Beckett show up and be the workhorse he has been in the past? Most likely, he will come back and be the ace once again.

Can Dice-K find the strike zone or will he have to keep pitching out of jams? He has great stuff and seems composed to have another great season. Jon Lester is simply one of the best lefties in baseball. Three starters that will matchup with any team.

I know many like Wakefield. It could be that the Sox would be better if he was no longer a starter. When his knuckler doesn't knuckle, he throws batting practice. Theo has compiled some amazing possibilities to have an all-star rotation. If Smoltz and Penny return to form, this team could be phenomenal. Let's not forget Masterson could be as good of a started as Lowe was and is. There are also a couple of minor leaguers, along with Bucholtz that can make an impact this year.

The lineup looks ready to go. Ellsbury needs to show he is ready to play for the long run. He is already one of the best leadoff hitters around with a great glove in center field. Pedroia is the heart and passion of this team. No one plays harder and he is coming off his MVP season. Ortiz has worked out hard and looks ready to give at least 30 homeruns.

I would put Jason Bay as cleanup. The man has more power than Youk and is designed to be in this role better. Put Youk behind Bay and a "healthy" Lowell behind him and things will look solid. The question is, how is Lowell physically and emotionally after in injury filled season and knowing the Sox wanted Texiera. Only time will tell. J.D. Drew should fit nicely behind Lowell. More questions concerning his stamina for the season, but with Baldelli, we should be just fine.

The last two players are probably the weakest links we have. Varitek is the captain. His best days are no doubt behind him. Both, the Sox pitchers and opposing pitchers love to throw to him. His preparation for the game is second to none. Yet, he is the probably the closest thing to a sure out in the lineup as a pitcher batting in the National League. We love him, but he might best serve as a mentor to the future catchers in the organization.

Who will play shortstop and bat ninth? Most hope that Lugo will step it up this season both with the glove and bat. Jed Lowrie is very consistent, but would be better as an utility player. Lugo has great speed and more experience. Last season, he was horrible defensively. He says it will never happen again. He is stronger than Lowrie and faster. Edge should go to him.

So, let's get it going! It is time for baseball. Red Sox Nation believes this could be another year to win it all. Good luck, guys. We are all watching with great anticipation.