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Diary of a Sox Crazed Maniac: The Burning Concerns Leading into Spring Training 2010

Diary of a Sox Crazed Maniac: The Burning Concerns Leading into Spring Training 2010

Well it is nice to say that winter is almost at its conclusion which can only mean one thing. Baseball, as of Thursday February 18 will be here every single day up until the end of October and that is such a pleasant sight to see. Especially with the cold, dark, grey, and snow filled winter that New England experiences every year this brings a sign of optimism, which of course is warm weather.  The Boys of Summer are back for the 2010 season with redemption on their mind after an embarrassing and quick three game sweep out of the playoffs from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It was almost like the Red Sox could not wait to get to Florida and play golf, that’s how quick and brutal that series was.  With a major loss on the offensive end in Jason Bay and two huge loses in the bullpen from Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, the Sox are not as strong as last year’s team…maybe. However, the Sox did make some additions that make me want to get up out of the chair and sing Dirty Water. Those additions were signing another top of the rotation starter to an already two headed beast in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. The Sox went out and signed 31-year old John Lackey away from the Angels to bolster an already above average starting rotation. With Lackey in the fold, the Sox are built for the postseason with depth at starting pitching.   Another weakness the Sox wanted to upgrade with was their defense. Last year, the Sox ranked an impressive 4th in the AL in fielding percentage, but it was the ‘saber-metrics’ that Theo and Co. love that had the Red Sox actually ranked in the lower part of fielding. To improve this, and with Jason Bay already not in the Sox plans, preventing runs was the route of choice that Theo and Co. wanted to take. By doing this the Sox signed Mike Cameron to patrol centerfield. By doing this, Jacoby Ellsbury now plays leftfield, which will save his legs for running and is a welcomed upgrade over Bay’s average left field defense.   The Sox also signed yet another shortstop (surprised?). This time it was 34-year old Marco Scutaro. Scutaro had a career year in 2009, but has always been known to play stellar defense, making the Sox up the middle defense something to watch out for. Lastly, the Sox signed 30-year old, former All-Star and Gold Glover Adrian Beltre to man the hot corner. If Beltre shows anything of what he has the God given skills to do, this should be a fun year to watch him on both sides of the field.  With all of that in mind, there are nine questions going into the 2010 campaign that could become more than a mosquito bite if not handled or figured out rather quickly.  Leading Off: Spots in the Bullpen  Everyone in Red Sox Nation knows that Jonathan Papelbon is the closer until he either becomes terrible or he leaves via free agency. It is everyone else that will be in the team’s bullpen that do not have permanent defined roles. Daniel Bard had a stellar rookie season, but is he ready to be the primary set-up man for Jonny Paps? Besides Pap, the next most reliable option is Hideki Okajima, and he will maintain his role of primary lefty/occasional set-up man. But after that what is there? Does Manny Delcarmen, one make this team, and two does he have a major role in it? How many Ramon Ramirez’ will be on the team? One or two? Did Theo find yet another steal in Boof Bonser or is he going to choke here in Beantown? Can a young gun like Dustin Richardson or Michael Bowdon make the team and provide dividends? Bullpen has been a strength for the Sox the last couple of years but this year it could be something Theo and Co. need to trade for at the deadline.  In the Two Hole: Who is Number 5 in the pitching rotation?  All that is given right now in a very deep and powerful pitching rotation is the top three. Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey are the top three pitchers, most likely in that order. Beckett and Lester may switch but either way, they are the number one and number two. With those three in mind, and more than likely Daisuke Matsuzaka the number four starter, question comes to mind that who will be taking over number 5? Sox fans obvious answer would be Clay Buchholz. Clay did his job and then some after coming up in July; doing his job so well that he started game three of the ALDS at Fenway, pitching rather effective. It appears as though Clay finally knows how to pitch, but could Tim Wakefield be in his way? The All-Star for now is healthy, but is aging. As much as Wake is a fan favorite, Theo has already said Wake will not be in the bullpen. So what happens now? The right decision would be keeping Clay as the number five and having Wake pitch once every week or something.   Batting Third: Josh Beckett/Victor Martinez extensions  With both players entering the final years of their contracts, Theo and Co. have a major decision that needs to be made. Do the Sox sign one or both or none of them? If so, what is the cost going to be? In the Sox case, both players need to be kept. The Sox have no catching prospects on the horizon and Beckett has been a bull dog and top of the line starter ever since the day he walked in. By letting Beckett walk, an edge that Beckett brings not only for himself but to his teammates will surely be missed. Beckett has said he would like to stay here, but this time it is not for a discount like in 2006. Martinez on the other hand, has made it blatantly clear and obvious that he does not want to go anywhere else, including not even filing for free agency. However, Martinez does not want to talk extension once the season starts. Martinez will probably be the easier of the two to lock up. Either way, Theo and John Henry, it is time to pay up to keep your own!  Check back next week for the remaining 6 topics that are catching my eye as the Sox begin the 2010 spring training!

About the Contributor
Andrew Otovik served as the sports editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2010-2011