Saturday, February 17, 2007

Trying To Decipher The '07 Sox

Winston Churchill once said of the former Soviet Union, "Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." The same could be said of your 2007 Red Sox. The team that presents itself to us in Fort Myers is filled with promise and peril. You get the sense that they could just as easily run away with the AL East as finish (again) behind the Blue Jays.

The starting rotation will, as always, be the key—remember, we took off on our '04 magic carpet ride aboard amazing starts in August of that year. Schilling, Beckett, D-Mat, Papelbon and Wakefield are the best we've had in a while—but all come with caveats the size of the restrictor plate on John Henry's new ride. Will Schill and Wake perform like 30-year olds rather than 40-year olds? Will Pap adapt to starting? Will D-Mat dominate the Empire like he did the Nippon Ham Fighters? Will Beckett pitch like the '03 Beckett? If the answers are even 60%-40% "yes", we should win in a walk. If we're talking 40%-60%, we may be looking over our shoulders at the O's in September.

Another issue is the middle of the infield. Do we really expect Lugo and Pedroia to match the smooth precision of A-Gon and Loretta? Not bloody likely. Remember that feeling last year— that anything hit on the ground was an out? Can it.

And, of course, the closer-less bullpen. Sure, a better rotation should allow us to avoid the need for Papelbon-esque numbers. But, do you really feel comfortable with the Blown Save By Committee strategy? Maybe Theo will correct this by Opening Day by trading Wily Mo for Cordero. But if not, something tells me we will regret this lack of security at the end of the 'pen.

So, go boldly into the Spring, Nation. But, face it, we have no clue how it will all end.

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