I haven't written much this spring about the Red Sox, as I take spring training with a grain of salt.
But I have been impressed with the Red Sox pitching in games I have seen on TV so far. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have been really impressive, and both pitchers have an ERA under 1.00 in all of their starts. And John Lackey looks like he's on a mission, too. He's lost about 20 pounds and his fastball has reached 92 MPH this spring. I'm sure most Red Sox fans have little faith in this guy, but he may actually surprise some people this year. Lester and Buchholz must pitch well for the Sox to succeed, but a healthy Lackey will give the Red Sox innings, and that cannot be underestimated.
The Red Sox will open the season with possibly four key players on the DL: David Ortiz, Stephen Drew, Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow. Fortunately, the Sox appear to have one of the deepest bullpens in baseball, but losing two lefties out of the pen will hurt. No word yet on how long Papi will be out for, but we should have a better idea where he stands this week, as the final roster will be announced soon. It looks like Drew will open the season out, but it may not be for very long, as he was given the green light to begin baseball activities after being beaned earlier this month. Jose Iglesias will most likely open the season in Boston.
No word yet on the fate of Jackie Bradley Jr. and where he will begin the season. He has been hugely impressive this spring, but for many reasons, I still bet he will open the year in Pawtucket.
I have been thinking about what the AL East finish will be in 2013. It's as wide open as it has been in its history. My bold prediction is:
1. Blue Jays
2. Red Sox
In the immortal words of Dennis Miller: "That's just my opinion, I could be wrong."
I think this Red Sox team can win between 85 and 90 games. Can they make the playoffs? Maybe. A lot has to go right for them to be playing this October. They especially need to break from the gate in good shape this year. The bad starts of the last two years foretold big trouble.
I'm sure most of the "pundits" will pick the Red Sox either fourth or fifth. Doesn't matter to me. They might ultimately be right. We'll see.