There is plenty of reason for optimism, though, as the Red Sox have a solid rotation. Their lineup lacks the punch we're used to seeing around these parts, but it's full of pros who know how to hit.
How do you think the offense will fare without Jason Bay this season? Assuming David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, and J.D. Drew all remain healthy, I think we could be good, but there is a lot of doubt that all three can remain healthy and productive at this stage of their careers. I think we need a key power bat to compete this season because I don't see Mike Cameron transitioning well, and I doubt our lineup will remain all that healthy. Do you think we have a shot to compete with a stellar Yankees offense and pitching staff because we only have one of the two?
Well, I will start with Jason Bay. I think Bay is a good, consistent player who did a very good job of filling the Manny Ramirez void at the time. That said, I think he is replaceable. I think the Red Sox were not going to overpay for his services and, in the end, they did not pay him at all. Spending this money in other ways and now sending the best starting staff in the league out there every day is maybe, in the end, even better. I think the Red Sox may only lack in home runs. I think this offense will score runs and the defense and pitching is better. I really do believe it will, per usual, come down to the Red Sox and Yankees again. The key for the winner will be season-long health.
What are your thoughts on the Red Sox adding Adrian Beltre to play third?
–Terrence, Plano, Texas
Surprised. In the beginning it appeared it would cost a lot and be a huge commitment in terms of years. None of that ended up being true and he is now a member of the Red Sox. I have always appreciated his defense and marveled at his one huge 48-home run season in 2004 with the Dodgers. I think he will hit better here and in this lineup.
Looking back at the Red Sox' lineup in 2009, there were some outs at the bottom of the order. To me, that lineup is now much deeper down the line. Certainly and sadly though, this likely means the Red Sox will have to move Mike Lowell in the coming days.
Will it be difficult for Jacoby Ellsbury to move from center field to left?
–Kerri, Salem, N.H.
I don’t think so, and he may be better suited there. When the Red Sox signed Mike Cameron, I fully expected him to play center. He has not played much left and has been one of the game's best center fielders. I read where Terry Francona sort of compared the situation now to that of Tampa Bay, where Carl Crawford plays left and there is all kinds of speed and coverage in the outfield. I think Jacoby felt like it was a demotion of sorts, but in the end this is best for the defense of the team and he likely will be back there in the future.
Which starting pitcher do you think will lead the Red Sox in wins this season?
–Eric, McLean, Va.
I am expecting big things from Josh Beckett this year. I think he is ready to break out and return to his dominant ways. I think with as good as the rotation will be this year, it will set up a lot of competition within the team, and he seems to thrive in those types of scenarios. I think back to the days when Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez were in Boston, and they fed off each other's success. I think Jon Lester and Beckett have had that to some degree, but I think the addition of John Lackey takes this competition to a whole new level.
I know it's a long shot, but do you think there's any chance of Joe Mauer leaving the Twins when he becomes a free agent after the 2010 season and signing with the Red Sox?
–Brendan, Oceanside, Calif.
I think the Red Sox would like that, but I really think the Yankees would like it even more. As we have heard many times before, the Yankees' resources are tough to match and if they want a guy, generally they get their man. I think they want this guy. Some part of me hopes he stays in Minnesota and the Twins offer up real money for him. If there was one guy all these years that the Twins would spend money on, you would think this hometown kid would be the one.
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