A rival scout sizes up the Red Sox
Bobby Valentine is going to make sure all the attention is on him—he's going to do some outrageous things to keep the pressure off the team after what happened last year. It could go south quickly if he ticks off his players.... There are tremendous concerns over the rotation. Their big three should be fine as long as they're healthy. They think they can fill out the rotation behind Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, but I don't know who's going to step forward. Daniel Bard is the key. He throws 100 mph, but there are so many who've failed going from the bullpen to the rotation.... They've got questions in the bullpen too. Franklin Morales is their only lefty, and he struggles with his consistency. I think Andrew Bailey will do fine replacing Jonathan Papelbon, and Mark Melancon will be good in the setup role. But with two guys who haven't played in Boston, you just never know. It's a different beast playing there.... They're going to score a lot of runs again. David Ortiz is still a very good DH. Carl Crawford, as long as he's healthy, can only get better.... Jacoby Ellsbury is playing with a lot of energy this spring; there's no question he can replicate his numbers.... The catching is suspect—Jarrod Saltalamacchia has to prove he's a regular catcher, because Ryan Lavarnway's not ready yet.... I didn't like the Marco Scutaro trade. They'll miss him. Mike Aviles is their best option at shortstop—Jose Iglesias is good, but he isn't ready yet.... I'm definitely not penciling them into the playoffs. A lot of things have to go right, and that division is going to be a dogfight.
With 2011 Statistics
MANAGER BOBBY VALENTINE
1st season with Red Sox
NEW ACQUISITION *TRIPLE A STATS
Combined hits in 2011 by Adrian Gonzalez (213) and Jacoby Ellsbury (212), the first pair of AL teammates to each pass 210 since Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons pulled off the double for the 1932 A's. Both ranked in the league's top five in OPS, helping Boston lead the AL in that category for the second straight year.
When the Red Sox, in an effort to free room under the luxury-tax threshold, traded shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies, they left themselves with no true starting shortstop. Just three players on their 40-man roster played the position in the majors last year—for a total of 141 1/3 innings. Prospect Jose Iglesias has a major-league-ready glove, but can't hit yet—he had an anemic .235/.285/.269 line at Triple A last season. Veteran Nick Punto, 34, a free-agent addition, has never been a regular shortstop in the majors and has shown declining range the past three years. That leaves Mike Aviles, the 31-year-old acquired from the Royals last summer. Aviles has a career .288/.318/.419 line and is the kind of righthanded hitter built for Fenway Park. (He has an .809 OPS in 92 career plate appearances there.) He's also better defensively than he looks: He was above average according to all defensive metrics as the Kansas City starter in 2008, and his small-sample numbers the past two years are good. Bobby Valentine doesn't have to platoon at the position; Aviles, allowed to play every day, will be a strong solution at a low price.
CHUCK SOLOMON (BAILEY)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (AVILES)