Sunday, March 23, 2008

T Minus 33 Hours and Counting

The Sox open up Tuesday morning against the A's in Japan. I plan on gettingup early, and tuning in my computer. I'm assuming I'll be able to follow the Gametracker thing. I hope so.
I'll also be pulling up Joy of Sox and chatting with my on-line friends there during the game.
I'm betting on big things for the Sox again this year. Papi and Manny were both slightly hampered last year and I think they'll both improve this year. I also think JD Drew will have a much better year.
Even if Jacoby Ellsbury (LBJ) doesn't take over the CF job full time, he will play there regularly and should add some offense from that spot. I also think we'll get just a little more from the catcher's spot, because Cash should be a better PH for Tek than Dougie was. I'm betting that Youk and Lugo will stay at about the same pace they've been on.
Pedroia and Lowell are the question marks, but I really think Peds will at least match last year. Many are expecting Lowell to drop off, and they certainly could be right. But I bet it won't be that much of a drop, and he might just surprise them. Let's hope so!
With the extra numbers from Ellsbury and Drew, and even a little improvement from the 3-4 spots, I expect the Red Sox to surpass even last years big numbers.
Dice K opens the season in Japan - fitting. Although there's no doubt that it would have been Beckett if he wasn't hurt. Jon Lester has been throwing very well the last couple of weeks. He'll probably be the 3 man when Beckett returns, which should not be long based on reports from camp. Wakefield will just continue to be Wake, and Buchholz is apparently going to be the 4th man at least until Beckett returns. Wake will probably not get as many wins as he did last year, but I'm still thinking pitching will be about the same, with a little more consistency from Dice making up the wins that we won't get from Schilling and Lester/Buchholz? doing a little better than the revolving door they're replacing.
The one question mark is the bullpen. Of course we have Papelbon to close, and Okajima to set him up. It doesn't get much better than that. But I've not seen enough of the numbers from spring training to get a real feel for what we've got before them. I think Timlim is bound to hit the wall sooner or later, and fear this might be the year. After all, he was very inconsistent last year. Hopefully our starters can consistently get us close enough to the 7th inning that we won't need a huge contribution from the rest of the pen.
If we get the increase in offense I expect, an iffy inning or 2 from the pen shouldn't kill us too often. Down to 32 hours now, so here's to huge numbers, and a repeat in '08!

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