Josh Beckett, John Lackey Can Help Red Sox Achieve Full Potential in 2011 by Returning to Dominance

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Josh Beckett, John Lackey Can Help Red Sox Achieve Full Potential in 2011 by Returning to Dominance When thinking about the Red Sox and their chances to be a dominant team in 2011, one cliche is certainly true — the Sox do have a great team on paper.

However, the 2010 season did prove another sports cliche — baseball games aren’t won on paper.

While everyone can admit that the Red Sox have all the pieces to make a deep playoff run, they will certainly need improvement in a couple of areas. Not surprisingly, those two areas include both health and starting pitching.

Josh Beckett‘s injury earlier this week should serve as a reminder in regards to both.

The Red Sox look great on paper. Is there any area that concerns you heading into the season?
— Tim, Waltham

I agree. This team is the best all-around team I can remember in my first 10 seasons with the Sox heading into the year. A couple things to think about, however. Injuries, as we found out in 2010, over and over again, can derail your team in a hurry and change the complexion of your roster in a heart beat. Seemingly, it did that weekend in San Francisco. The other thing that will be interesting is to see if Josh Beckett can return to the dominant front-line pitcher that we used to know, and whether or not John Lackey bring his success to another level this season. Last year was sort of inconsistent, and maybe he was just getting used to his new environment, but it’s worth watching as we head into 2011.

Can Daisuke Matsuzaka finally flourish in 2011 for the full season?
— Alex, Brattleboro, Vt.

Well it is important to remember that he’s now the No. 5 starter, and really, if you weigh him against other fifth starters in baseball, the results are actually in favor of Daisuke. I think we all have been frustrated by his approach over the years, with his unwillingness to give in and go after hitters. We have talked for years about how he walks the bases loaded and then gets out of it. Why not just go after them from the beginning? It is what it is, and maybe it will work again for him to the tune of 18-3 like he was in his second season with the Sox.

With the roster set for position players is there anything for the young guys to play for in the spring?
— Nita, Gill, Mass.

Absolutely. It is a great opportunity for them to make their case for their future right in front of the major league coaching staff and baseball operations crew. While baseball operations keeps tabs all year on a daily basis, Terry Francona and his staff have their hands full with their own team and issues. The impression you make during the spring can help leaps and bounds later on. Not to mention you are not only playing to get up someday with the big your, club but you’re also playing in front of scouts from other organizations whom you may also impress. It can be the most important part of the year for a young player.

This is the last year of City of Palms Park. Will you miss it or is it good riddance?
— Jeff, Lowell

No, I will miss it. I love this place. Admittedly, it isn’t very practical to have the minor and major league complexes separate. It makes things difficult when you start camp and have the first two weeks of spring training in one location, and then have to move your entire organization to another complex when games start. That said, this is home for me. I started coming to spring training when I was doing  Pawtucket Red Sox games in 1996, and of course started calling games down here in 2001 when I moved up to Boston. I really feel at home at this location. So while I am sure the new place will be incredible, it will be bittersweet to leave City Of Palms.

Any new news on the Josh Beckett Injury?
— George, Crawford, Texas

He felt better on Tuesday. He spoke with us in the morning after getting checked out and he was much better. He was not allowed to do anything on the field and was sent home to rest more. It was just one of those random things that sometimes happen. Beckett has had many things happen in spring training in a Red Sox uniform, and this probably ranks up their as the strangest. I would not be surprised to see him backed up a little. But, it does appear that he will be OK.

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