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Do the Red Sox Bounce Back in 2012? Nope!
For those of us still recovering from last year's September swoon it's time to put that behind us and start looking ahead to the 2012 season. With a new manager and some new faces having joined the team there is reason for hope and optimism in Beantown as Spring training gets under way in Fort Myers, Florida.
Call me the eternal Red Sox optimist (at least until the season starts) but with a starting rotation featuring Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and a healthy Clay Bucholz there is reason for this optimism. The bottom of the starting rotation could also offer some excitement as it looks as though Daniel Bard will move from his setup role into the starting rotation. The addition of Andrew Bailey as the new closer is also a positive move in my opinion. I've followed Bailey for the last few seasons with Oakland and he had a very strong finish last seaon plus he's four years younger than the departed Papelbon.
On paper this all looks and sounds pretty good and it had better be as both the Yankees and Rays will have formidable starting rotations themselves this year.
The Red Sox new look this year will be missing some familiar faces. Terry Francona, Jonathon Papelbon, Theo Epstein, JD Drew, Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro are all gone by various means. John Lackey is out for the season (will anyone really miss him?) and Daisuke Matsuzaka will miss a large portion of the season as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery. It also looks like Jason Varitek may have caught his last game for the Red Sox and Tim Wakwfield has officially retired. The one move I did not like this off season was to see Josh Reddick go as I thought he was a very athletic and talented young player who always hustled. I thought he had a bright future in Boston.
So what does this mean for the Red Sox and their chances heading into 2012? It does appear that a lot of the deadwood has been removed. But to me there are numerous lingering concerns about the starting lineup. Does Carl Crawford rebound from the worst season of his career and fully recover from his off season wrist surgery? Will Kevin Youkilis stay healthy for the entire season? Does David Ortiz continue to contribute or does he get off to a slow start like he did back in 2010? And what do we make of the shortstop position? As of right now it looks like a three way competition between Mike Aviles, Nick Punto and Jose Iglesias. Do any of these names inspire you? If Daniel Bard moves into the starting rotation does his replacement, Mark Melancon at the moment, get the job done as the setup guy? And finally, will Bobby Valentine be able to get the most out of this team or will his management style just cause more controversy in Boston?
We won't have to wait long to get some answers. Pitchers and catchers have reported and most of the position players are in Fort Myers. Before we know it early April will be here.
So let's hear from all you Baseball fans out there.
It's time to be heard and vote.
Will the Boston Red Sox bounce back in 2012 and make the playoffs?
Your pick for the American League East Champs?
© 2012 Bill De Giulio