When all was said and (un)done, there was very little to celebrate at Fenway Park, unless you wore an Angels uniform. The offense never really clicked, the pitching staff never was whole and just when you least expected it, the closer imploded to kill the postseason.
Let’s take a look at what we might see in the new season:
Daisuke will win the Cy Young Award
After winning 18 games in 2008, we all know how it all went wrong for Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2009. Despite the success he enjoyed his first two seasons in Boston, he certainly hasn’t lived up to the international hype that accompanied his celebrated arrival in December of 2006. But the disaster that was last season should only serve as prime motivation for a major comeback in 2010. When he’s right, Matsuzaka can still be the dominating pitcher he once was in Japan. Expect a more-determined Matsuzaka in 2010, out to prove all his detractors — especially those on his own team — that he is still the Monster.
David Ortiz Will Hit More Than One Homer Before June 6
Did someone say “contract year”? This is the crossroads for Big Papi, coming off another horrific start and facing more scrutiny than ever in a league that is changing the way it utilizes the designated hitter. The Red Sox have made it clear that Ortiz needs to come into camp in better shape, and he needs to hit if he’s going to viable in the lineup. The idea that David Ortiz has to prove anything to the Red Sox seems outrageous, given all he’s done the past seven years, but the fact remains: This is a prove-it-to-me season, and proud Papi will likely do just that.
Jason Bay Will Regret Going to New York
He took the richest deal, but when it’s August and he’s got 10 homers in the cavernous Citi Field — the same outfield that will expose his defensive deficiencies — and the New York fans and media have turned a cynical eye to the Mets’ latest big-money flop, Bay’s going to recall that the grass (and Wall) at Fenway was a whole lot greener.
Marco Scutaro Will Own the City
At some point, the revolving door at shortstop has to stop, and Scutaro seems like the perfect guy to make everyone forget about Edgar Lugo. He’s going to help the offense with his on-base acumen, and he’s going to make enough plays at shortstop to keep the pitching staff sane. And that name is going to make him the darling of the North End.
Mike Lowell Will Contribute More Than You Think
He’s become Jason Vorhees with a goatee. The Red Sox think they’re rid of him, but Mike Lowell keeps coming back. With the trade to the Rangers scuttled because of his thumb injury, Lowell will report to spring training with a new spring in his step, two years removed from hip surgery. The guy can still hit, and if the Red Sox can move him around the diamond enough, his defensive limitations should be sufficiently mitigated. He was counted out after 2005 and remade himself as a dangerous hitter. Expect a similar revival in 2010.
Dustin Pedroia Will Win the Team’s Fantasy Football League
With former Pirates league commissioner Bay out of town and current Red Sox commish (and 2007 champion) Mike Reinold promoted to head trainer and now otherwise distracted, the door is open for the diminutive one to come up big this September. Pedroia and Kyle Snyder were the runner-ups to Reinold in 2007, leading to unproven conspiracy charges levied against the commish the following spring. No excuses this time around (especially if Pedroia lands Chris Johnson).
Adrian Gonzalez Will End 2010 in Boston …
If it doesn’t happen before the season, it will certainly happen by July 31. There is simply no way the Red Sox don’t make an offer that Jed Hoyer eventually can’t refuse. The best guess here is the Ellsbury-Buchholz-Kelly package, especially if Buchholz follows up his strong second half in 2009 with a solid start to 2010. Maybe Dice-K goes instead, with just two years, $24 million left on his original $52 million deal in 2011. Either way, if I’m Casey Kotchman, I’m always looking over my shoulder.
… and Jonathan Papelbon Will Not
One way or another, Daniel Bard will be the Red Sox' closer by the end of 2010, even if it means to begin the following season. Papelbon seems determined to play contract hardball with the Red Sox as his free agent clock ticks louder, and that usually doesn’t end well with Theo Epstein — especially for a closer who showed some vulnerability in 2009. If Bard shows continued improvement, and Theo feels he can get value for Papelbon, he’ll be shipping him right on out of Boston.
Ramon Ramirez Will Make a Key Contribution
No-brainer, right? The Red Sox should have at least five Ramon Ramirez’s on the 40-man roster by April.
So get lost, 2009, you bum. Let’s raise a toast to better times in 2010.
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