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The last 4 months for a Red Sox fan has gone horribly wrong. Oh wait, make that the last 10 months. It was a joke to think that Bobby V would make the boys listen and could corral them together into a loving and wining team. No, Ellsbury is not a clubhouse leader, and neither is an angry and injured Papi. And while Pedroia can lead this group of losers, he can’t do it alone. The hope for all Sox fans was that this offseason, something would be done to bring back that passion, hope and desire that both the Sox need, and the fans want. THUD.

That’s the sound of the door shutting on the 2013 season for the Red Sox. Cellar Dwellers, maybe not, but a lot has to turn around for them to be relevant in the revamped AL East. While Toronto has really improved this off-season and Baltimore is getting praise for its youth and its steps towards winning, Tampa Bay has also moved around some lumber and the Yankees are, well, the Yankees, so they will always be in the mix. With everyone in the league improving, the Red Sox need to improve as well, but it doesn’t look like this is going to be the year, as management has put together a group of “bridge-gappers” to quell our expectations for a happy 2013, but with high hopes for 2014. That leaves the 2013 Red Sox squad with many question marks, like: Will they ever sign their 4th catcher, Mike Napoli? Napoli has shown to be a great hitter, as he was a fan favorite in Texas for his hard work and timely hitting. Defensively, he is a not a great catcher, and with the plethora of backstops for Boston , Napoli will be used as a 1B. The Red Sox, however, have yet to sign him, sighting a problem with a hip that will affect his mobility as the season “wears” on (pun intented). It sounds as if the Red Sox will still sign Napoli , but only for a season. Other options include signing Casey Kotchman, Mike Morse, or Lyle Overbay , and all three options sound as great as putting my hand in a light socket. Expect 20 HRs, 90 RBIs, .260 average as he learns to hit the Monster. What is this outfield going to look like? Ellsbury will start in center, of course, but he really needs to rebound from last year’s debacle. After putting up MVP type numbers in 2011, Ellsbury will most likely put up 25 HR with 85 RBIs and sign a new contract with New York at the end of the season. Check please, Scott Boras! Victorino, the weak hitting speedster, will start in right field. Defensively, he is no Johnny Damon, but he is not a strong hitter either. If he can make contact, as a good number two hitter should, he may be able to knock in 80 with about 30 steals. Left field may see a platoon with Kalish and Nava sharing time. Overall, this spot looks like the Achilles heel for the Red Sox, as neither player is experienced enough or looks seasoned enough to provide much more than a number 8 or 9 hitter can. Expect 18 HR and 65 RBIs between the two of them. When will we see the youth? I can imagine when the Red Sox are out of it in around early August, many of the younger players will start to emerge. With Kalish and Lavarnway already seeing some time at Fenway, and the Will Middlebrooks experiment going so well for 3 months last year, one wonders if Ellsbury jumps ship early and 22 year old Jackie Bradley gets a shot in 2013. Xander Bogaerts is also primed and ready for a shot, and it won’t take much for them to move him up if “the other” Drew has a weak start and Jose Iglesias can’t hit (which we knew he won’t). Bryce Brentz looks like a can’t miss prospect, but left field is a cluster %^&* and I am not sure if Farrell will be able to sort that out unless the injury bug comes early. Stud minor leaguers pitchers Matt Barnes and Rubby De la Rosa are also excited to pitch in Boston, but it may be too early for them and De la Rosa is only 1 ½ years out of Tommy John surgery. Will the pitching rebound? Well, it has to, really. Clay Buchholz spent some time as the ace of the team in 2012. Now read that sentence again and let it sink in. All 5 starters had an ERA of 4 or over except Buchholtz (3.88). Ryan Dempster is in a new league, Jon Lester pitched worse after the all star break (4.49 ERA before 5.23 after) and John Lackey can not do worse than 2011, when he posted a 6.41 ERA before his arm fell off. Felix Dubront will round out the staff and he has been serviceable, at best. Let’s face it. This team will rally around Lester, and he needs to be the team ace in order for this season to run well. If he stays healthy and can strike out 200 +, the rest of the staff should settle down and winning might actually become contagious. Health is a major concern with this team, as it was last year, but the hope is that the 5 months off left everyone with a bitter taste in their mouth and left them eager to prove they are the team that won 2 championships less than 10 years ago. Funny how Red Sox nation forgets, but a season like 2012 will do that to The Faithful.

Peter Lepak 1/16/2013 09:37:00 PM Edit
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