While it's never fun to be a pessimist, it's important to be realistic.
Hope springs eternal every year in baseball, with all 30 teams hoping to take advantage of consistent contributions from every member of the 25-man roster (and then some). But at season's end we always tend to look back at three or four players who failed to meet expectations.
In 2012 it was Jon Lester who had the worst year of his career (9-14 with a 4.82 ERA), as well as Jacoby Ellsbury, who after posting MVP numbers the season before, missed a good chunk of the season with a dislocated right shoulder.
Of course hindsight is 20-20, but let's look into our imaginary crystal ball and observe the five Boston Red Sox players who are most likely to disappoint in 2013.
There has been a lot of positive energy surrounding John Lackey this spring. He spawned what has been an uncharacteristically good vibe since arriving in camp with a new attitude to go with an improved physique.
Not too long ago Lackey was the engulfed in controversy when he (and Josh Beckett) became the face of the now infamous "beer and chicken scandal" of 2011.
He didn't win back many fans the following season when he got paid to sit out the entire year following Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.
Everything Lackey has said and done so far this spring has helped rebuild his image—for now. He was among the first arrivals at camp in early February and has pledged to be better in 2013.
But in order to complete his turnaround as public enemy No. 1 in Boston, Lackey has to deliver results. In two starts this spring, Lackey is 1-0 with a 12.00 ERA (3 IP, 4 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 2 Ks).
Grapefruit League play is hardly an accurate barometer when gauging a player's ability heading into the regular season, but as was displayed, Lackey has gotten off to a rocky start.
Sure, it's harsh and unfair to judge him on just a handful of games, especially when he is coming off a one-and-a-half-year gap of inactivity, but Lackey still needs to prove he can be the pitcher he was with the Los Angeles Angels—something he hasn't done in three years with the Red Sox.
On December 17, the Red Sox signed Stephen Drew to a one-year, $9.5 million contract. It was certainly a head-scratcher considering the amount they committed to a player who hit .223 with 28 RBI and a .657 OPS last season.
His health has also been a major concern in recent years; he played in just 165 games in 2011 and 2012 combined.
It's possible being injury prone runs in his family, although he did tell the Boston media (via Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston.com), "I am not J.D."
After trading Mike Aviles to the Toronto Blue Jays it became clear the Red Sox needed a new shortstop. Whether or not Stephen Drew is the answer is yet to be seen.
Last season Felix Doubront started a career-high 29 games, going 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 161 innings. Not bad for his first full season in the rotation.
But now Doubront is entering his second go-around and will be expected to significantly eclipse his 2012 numbers—180-plus innings, with a sub-4.5 ERA and close to 200 strikeouts sounds about right.
He looked good in his sole Grapefruit League outing, tossing 1 2/3 innings of one-hit ball, striking out a pair and not allowing any runs. But let's not forget he arrived at Spring Training clearly out of shape.
As promising a display he put on last year, that doesn't exactly bode well for him in 2013.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a career year in 2012. In 121 games, he hit .222/.288/.454/742 with 25 homers, 17 doubles, 59 RBI and 139 strikeouts. Excluding the 40-plus extra-base hits, Saltalamacchia's stats are laughable, which is why it's ironic 2012 was his best overall season.
He got off to a decent start in 2012, belting 17 home runs and 13 doubles while driving in 41 runs in the first half of the season. He slugged .517 and had an .807 OPS.
However, Saltalamacchia's production plummeted in the second half—he managed just eight homers, with four doubles and 18 RBI. His average was on the Mendoza Line at .200 on the dot, while his slugging percentage and OPS were .371 and .658, respectively.
With Saltalamacchia's mediocre defense and questionable game-calling behind the plate, his saving grace became his offensive prowess, specifically with his power numbers.
If Saltalamacchia fails to break the 20-homer mark this season, expect the Red Sox to move on from him in search of a more steady-hitting catcher.
Daniel Bard has flown completely under the radar this spring, and that's probably for the best.
Since the disastrous 2012 experiment of slotting him the rotation, Bard is unsure of his role on the 2013 team.
In 10 starts last year, Bard went 4-6, posting a 5.30 ERA, allowing six home runs and 36 walks. He was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket in June, where he continued to struggle.
It's a certainty that Bard will return to the bullpen—if he makes the team that is. He was once expected to be Jonathan Papelbon's successor and heir to the closer role. Now, the Red Sox have Joel Hanrahan occupying that spot, and will likely use Junichi Tazawa as the setup man.
While in the past Bard has shown that he certainly has the stuff to be successful, his fragile state of mind might be the reason he takes time to re-assert himself as a dominant late-inning reliever/setup man.