3/2011 Team Scope: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox made huge acquisitions in this off-season. They two of the best hitters in the game in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. The Sox also added former star closer Bobby Jenks as well as solid reliever Dan Wheeler from their division rivals in Tampa. It’s going to be a big year and another division win for the Red Sox. I just can’t see how any team in the AL will keep up with this juggernaut.

Gonzalez is primed for a huge year after having several great ones in one of the heaviest pitchers’ parks in baseball. Gonzo is ready for an MVP year on his new team, and he’s going to be well acquainted with Fenway. Dustin Pedroia is solid as ever at second, and Marco Scutaro can score runs at short. The Youk moves over to the hot corner, and he’s one of the most consistent hitters in the MLB.

The big question for this offense comes at catcher. Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are two terrible catchers. Salty is the better hitter- even though he is pitiful against lefties- but he can’t even throw it at the pitcher accurately. And forget about him catching people attempting to steal bases. Varitek is one of the worst hitters out there, he’s so old that his slow reaction times are a gift to base runners, but he does have good chemistry with the pitching staff. The Red Sox should start Salty because he at least brings something to the table offensively.

Jed Lowrie is an interesting backup middle-infielder. People are saying that he is swinging the bat well, but I never believe what they say about Lowrie. He’s an average player that is playing in his rightful role; backup. Carl Crawford is a beast. What more is there to say? He has insane speed, he can hit for average, and he is solid in every other part of his game. He’s the other new acquisition that has vaulted himself into the MVP discussion.

Jacoby Ellsbury is coming off of a bad, lingering injury. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from it. Ellsbury’s speed on the basepaths is unquestioned, he scores runs like crazy when healthy, and he is a very athletic fielder. J.D. Drew has some pop, but he’s definitely not going to be anything more than an above average role player with how he played last year.

Darnell McDonald showed that he can be a capable backup last season. Mike Cameron is old and overpaid, but he is a good backup that can still field. David Ortiz is the best clutch-hitter on this team, and he can still lug the wood. The abundant power will always be there, but he won’t contribute in any other way. He’s still very valuable to this team, and he will be one of the main power sources on a loaded team. That’s saying something about Papi’s strength.

Jon Lester is the only pitcher in this rotation that doesn’t carry any questions about his ability to produce at a high level in 2011. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, and last season was the year where everyone finally saw that he is an elite player. John Lackey is on the downside of his career, and Red Sox fans can only hope that he plays okay and doesn’t implode like he did last year.

Josh Beckett is an interesting player. He’ll either do great, or he’ll get blown. I don’t know if we’re going to see the 09 Beckett or the 10 Beckett, but Boston fans hope it’s the former, not the latter. When Beckett is on the top of his game, he’s unhittable. When he’s not, well, it’s a reenactment of a play called “Barry Bonds in Coors Field” that features Jeff Suppan.

Clay Buchholz was great last year. Buchholz will put together another nice year, but I don’t know if it’s going to match last year’s great campaign. I really hope that Daisuke Matsuzaka turns back the clock and pitches like it’s 2008. After the tsunami in Japan, it would be great to see Dice-K get healthy again and get a 2.90 ERA. Matsuzaka is like Beckett in that we don’t know which side of him we’ll see in a game or season. Let’s hope he has a terrific year.

Jonathan Papelbon is one of the best closers in baseball, but he’ll likely be traded because of young set-up man Daniel Bard. He’s the heir to the throne, and he looks nearly as good as Paps. Bobby Jenks was once a great closer, and he’ll continue his greatness as one of the best set-up men in baseball. Dan Wheeler is another new acquisition that will make an impact in the pen. Dennys Reyes is decent at the back, and Matt Albers and Tim Wakefield are two decent options in the pen that will be injury replacements at starter.