No team improved itself more than the Boston Red Sox did this offseason. The acquisitions they made were huge, and it immediately vaulted them to the top of the MLB totem pole. The question is now, can they and will they live up to expectations?
What they Have: The best lineup in the AL, with the 2 major acquisitions. LF Carl Crawford is the mobile defender the Red Sox have lacked for the past few years, and he'll help not only defensively, but offensively on the base paths. The Red Sox tied for 25th in the league in steals, and that should surely improve. 1B Adrian Gonzalez was able to hit 31 homers when playing in San Diego, so imagine what he could do hitting at Fenway Park half of the year. The rest of the lineup is no slouch either. CF Jacoby Ellsbury should recover well from the slew of injuries he had last season, and so should 2B Dustin Pedroia. Kevin Youkilis moves from the right corner of the infield to the left, and Marco Scutaro is still a reliable shortstop. David Ortiz can still hit 30 home runs, as was proven last season. Pitching wise, the team is no slouch either. Jon Lester is a Cy Young candidate year in and year out, and Clay Buchholz is nearly there as well. John Lackey should bounce back from a sub-par year last year as well. The questions surround Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. In the bullpen, the Red Sox acquired Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler in order to sure up a problem area from last season. Daniel Bard is a flamethrower that could take over the closer role if Jonathan Papelbon slips up.
What they Don't Have: They don't have too many holes, but there are a few. The catching position is worse than last year offensively with the loss of Victor Martinez, but the Red Sox have a capable catcher in Jarrdo Saltalamacchia. The rotation is very good, but Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka need to pick up more slack in the rotation and have better years. And Jonathan Papelbon will need to have a much better year in order to hold onto the closer role.
Any Help Coming? SS Jose Iglesias is not going to start the year at the major league level, but he's very close to it. He can become a gold glove defender, and while offensively he isn't quite there just yet, his defense is the big factor. RHP Anthony Ranaudo is a good pitcher with 3 plus pitches and a great feel for pitching too. Southpaw Felix Doubront was the organizations minor league pitcher of the year for 2010, and could fill any hole that opens up on the pitching staff.
Outlook: Just like the Phillies, it's World Series or bust. They have the best lineup in the AL, and although the pitching may not be as good as some other teams in the AL, they are no slouch. This deadly combination means they could win over 100 games this year, and be the favorite to represent the AL in the fall classic.