After Acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, What Is the Boston Red Sox's Stance in AL East?

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After Acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, What Is the Boston Red Sox's Stance in AL East?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Adrian Gonzalez is taking his talents to Boston.

Early on Saturday, the Boston Red Sox made their first big splash in the offseason, dealing top prospects Casey Kelly (P), Anthony Rizzo (1B), Reymond Fuentes (OF) and a player to be named later to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez, according to ESPN.  

This is a huge steal for the Sox.  

Casey Kelly had been thought to be the best prospect in the Sox organization, even after posting a 5.31 ERA in Double-A ball.  He still has the tools to become a top-line starter, and many are overlooking last season because he was only 20.  Rizzo is a solid first base prospect, but was certainly expendable, considering that the Sox got Gonzalez.  Fuentes is a very raw, young outfielder, who has drawn comparisons to Jacoby Ellsbury.  

Although those three prospects all have good potential, one would expect more for a 28-year-old slugger like Adrian Gonzalez.  "Gonzo" hit 31 homers last year, despite playing 81 games in the cavernous Petco Park.  He is expected to thrive in the much smaller Fenway Park.  

Now how does this trade shake up the AL East?  One has to think it makes the Sox the favorite to win the division, at least until the Yankees make their moves this winter.  

This is my projected 2011 Red Sox lineup if they acquire Jayson Werth, who is currently a free agent.

Where will the 2011 Red Sox season end?

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1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2. 2B Dustin Pedroia

3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez

4. 3B Kevin Youkilis

5. DH David Ortiz

6. LF Jayson Werth*

7. RF JD Drew

8. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

9. SS Marco Scutaro

 

If Werth does not sign with Boston, they might instead sign free agent Carl Crawford. Crawford would likely lead off, Drew would move up to sixth in the order and Ellsbury would hit seventh.  

If they do not sign Crawford or Werth, the Sox would likely opt to start Ryan Kalish, who broke into the majors late last season.  

With a lineup like this, the Sox are the best team in the AL East.  The only team that could play with them would be the Yankees, as the Rays are extremely likely to lose Crawford to free agency.  

However, every winter, there is always the issue of whom the Yankees will sign with their millions.  This year is no different, as Cliff Lee, one of the best pitchers in the game, is on the market.  

A Cliff Lee signing would likely pull the Yankees close to even with Boston.  If New York was to sign an player like Werth or Crawford, then there would be no doubt who the best two teams in the majors would be.  

We're in for a very interesting season, ladies and gentlemen.  

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