Team Ace: Jon Lester
Most Valuable Position Player: Dustin Pedroia
Breakout Candidate: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Notable Offseason Additions: Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, David Ortiz (Injury), John Lackey (Injury), John Farrell (Manager)
Notable Offseason Losses: Cody Ross, Bobby Valentine (Manager)
Biggest Team Weakness: Team Chemistry
First of all I’m a big Yankees fan so I’m going to be a little biased, but as much as I dislike the Red Sox, I dislike Bobby-V more. I never liked Valentine when he an analyst for ESPN or when he was a manager in the early 2000s, and as humorous as it was when the Red Sox first hired him last season, after about a month I felt bad for them. No fan base deserves that kind of torture, and now that he’s gone they can go back to watching their team in peace.
Red Sox Nation is really excited about this coming season, but all the team has honestly done is replaced its superstar studded cast of players with average to below average talent. Catcher Mike Napoli, who hit .210 last season and can’t field, will replace Adrian Gonzales, a career .300, 25 HR guy who is 2 years removed from putting up MVP caliber numbers, at first baseman. Carl Crawford might have been bad his first two seasons with the Sox, but he was the top free agent in his class and his potential is endlessly higher than that of Shane Victorino. Josh Beckett was a playoff hero in Boston and notoriously alternates between great and bellow average seasons. He’s in line for a fantastic 2013, and the Sox bailed on him and went Dempster diving instead. Stephan Drew will be inserted in the revolving door that’s been the shortstop position over the last four years. And nobody should be excited about having to start Jonny Gomes in left field.
Plus, if you forget about Bobby Valentine’s existence (which you should), they essentially replaced manager Terry Francona, a two time World Series champion and someone who could cope with the Boston media, with John Farrell. The Red Sox TRADED AWAY ACTUAL PLAYERS to obtain a man with a career winning percentage of .475. Farrell is expected to be the savior, and everyone on the team apparently loves him from his pitching coach days, but I have my doubts.
Jacoby Elsberry and Dustin Pedroia are still with the team and have no reason not to bounce back after their injury filled 2012 campaigns. A healthy David Ortiz is still the best DH in the league and a great clubhouse guy. Out of John Lackey and Clay Buchholz one of them has to be useable. And their bullpen, which was essentially a joke last year, will be healthy, revamped and Melancon-less.
I do not doubt that the team is improved from where it was at the end of last seasons. But compared to last years opening day roster, and especially the team from 2011, the Red Sox are a lot worse. Could it all work out? I guess so, but I don’t think it will.