Strengths: Boston's starting rotation is about as solid as it gets and this year they could go six-deep if needed.
Their fourth and fifth guys, Lester and Buchholz, have the potential to be top of the rotation pitchers. Boston's bullpen is second to none as they allowed only .3848 runs per inning.
The Red Sox's bats were also a great compliment to their pitching and a nemesis to opponents. They posted staggering offensive numbers at home, averaging 6.31 runs per game in division play.
Weaknesses: Boston's biggest area of concern would have to be the difference in run production on the road as opposed to home.
To call this a weakness might be a stretch because they still produced good numbers away from Fenway. However, in division play they averaged 4.94 runs per game on the road - a difference of 1.37 from their home total.
Also, a concern is the health of Curt Schilling. There are rumors of his shoulder needing surgery, and while they are deep in starting pitchers, his absence could be felt in postseason play.
Summary: Boston's biggest obstacle this season will be maintaining the 'want to' factor during the grind of the regular season.
They certainly have the lineup to win a good number of games on talent alone, and that will carry them into the postseason.
The Sox will continue to post big numbers offensively in '08, especially if David Ortiz recovers from knee surgery.
Look for the back end of their rotation to perform solidly, but take the occasional lump too. Buchholz almost certainly will have some rookie hiccups along the way.
There should also be competition for the center field spot between Ellsbury and Crisp, but Boston will want to get Ellsbury on the field. The Red Sox only divisional competition will come from the Yankees.
Prediction: First Place AL East
1B: Kevin Youkilis
2B: Dustin Pedroia
3B: Mike Lowell
SS: Julio Lugo
C: Jason Varitek
LF: Manny Ramirez
RF: J.D. Drew
CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
DH: David Ortiz
Key Players & Trends
Josh Beckett gave up only four or more runs four times in 14 starts against division opponents in 2007. The most earned runs Beckett gave up to a division foe in '07 were five.
Boston averaged 6.5 runs per game in support of Beckett in his 14 division starts. In Beckett's 27 career starts for Boston against division opponents, the Sox have averaged 5.85 runs per game. In 2007, Boston averaged 5.61 runs per game in 47 day games while holding opponents to an average of 3.04.
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