Manny Ramirez: In his last three years, he has hit .324 with 20 HR’s and 66 RBI – just at Fenway Park. This season he hit .355 at home. As his contract becomes more tradable, doesn’t it become easier to live with? Forget the “he quit on his team” argument. Just ask John Valentin about playing with Pateller Tendonitis.
Wily Mo Pena Hitting 5th: With a good hitting coach and some patience, Pena could make the middle of the order positively crap-your-pants fearsome. The Sox lacked a legitimate 5-hitter most of the season, think about Papi and Manny’s numbers with a threat in the 5-hole.
A 20-Game Winner: No, not Curt Schilling. Try Josh Beckett. Another year under his belt, injury-free and learning how to pitch in the AL. If the kid keeps it all together and harnesses his I’m-gonna-strike-you-out-then-kick-your-ass attitude, look for a Cy Young competitor.
A Lead-Off Hitter: Give Coco a chance. I firmly believe the injury bothered him all year and we have yet to see the best of Coco Crisp. While he admittedly has a very Damon-like arm, Crisp will get to more balls than Johnny can ever dream about. Offensively, the two are going in opposite directions. Look for Crisp to have better overall numbers than the once-bearded traitor.
Flashy Leather: The infield defense was awe-inspiring, why break what is finally fixed? Bring back A-Gon. Please. The guy is just a pure joy to watch, and worth every rally-killing out of his .250 batting average. With Mike Lowell at third, not many hits getting through the left side of the infield.
Return to Form for the Captain: This is very simple to improve. Are you listening, Theo? First, end once and for all, the Doug Mirabelli lovefest. How can I put this: he sucks. The arrival in the State Police car was great drama, but it went south pretty quickly after that. Next, sign a one-year deal to someone who can catch 40-50 games and not put a gaping hole in the line-up. The result is a Jason Varitek who contributes all season.
How many days ’til pitchers and catchers report?