So with pitchers and catchers reporting tomorrow it's time to knock the dust off and power this thing up.
The sox are looking strong, even with Schilling possibly out for the year. From what I understand there is a chance he'll be ready by the all star break, but I'll believe that when it happens. So we'll most likely have Tavarez as the number 5 guy and he pitched well enough last year in that role that I'm not nervous at all. So we have Beckett, Dice-K, Wakefield, Lester and Tavarez to break camp with and Bucholtz waiting in the wings with Schilling hopefully coming back mid year. Not a bad rotation over all.
The pen is looking strong too with many of the good performers returning. Okijima, Delcarmen, Schnyder, Timlin are returning and of course Papelbon is the anchor. With those guys pulling most of the weight guys like Lopez and Pauley can play their roles and contribute when they can. The big question mark for me in the pen is Craig Hansen. Will this be the year he breaks out and lives up to his potential. It seems he has surgery in the off season to correct a sleep apnea problem that could have been effecting his performance and preparation. We'll see. If comes to life that gives us three very lively arms in the pen.
Then there's the starting 8. Everyone is back. The only real question, and maybe it's not a big deal, is when does Ellsbury take over in center? Do they put out there right out of the chute like they did Pedroia or do they work him in giving Crisp more at bats early in an attempt to bolster his value for a trade at the dead line? I know my fellow bloggers here have no hope that Drew will perform better than last year, but I hope he does. I think he can be very successful if he gets away from trying to pull the ball all the time and takes it back up the middle more. He did that in the playoffs and hit much better. The only changes where that Sean Casey replaced Hinske as the guy to spell Youkilis at first. I see this as an improvement. Casey's bat is better than Hinske's and the defense is a wash.
The chances of the Sox winning the east this year is much better than last year. I think the Yankees have many more questions this year than last. If they young guys pitch better than last year and stay healthy they'll make it interesting, but I still think we have the edge.