After an abysmal season in 2012, the Boston Red Sox will be back with a vengeance as a re-tooled lineup will pay dividends this summer. You have to go back to 1960 to find a Red Sox team that won less than 70 games in an MLB season unaffected by the strike.
Everything that could go wrong did in Bobby Valentine‘s first year as manager in 2012 however, with him out of the picture, I believe the Sox can contend for an American League wild card spot this summer. GM Ben Cherington and his staff have done a great job bringing in players that he knows are going to show up and be professionals.
The term professional is often loosely defined but, guys like Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster and Stephen Drew play the game the right way and don’t shy away from the games biggest moments. In particular, I believe the Victorino signing will help the club tremendously, as the top of their lineup was dreadful with Jacoby Ellsbury missing more than half the season.
Now, the Sox have another pesky base-runner who stole can steal up to 40 bags in Victorino.
Another crucial player to this team will be Will Middlebrooks as his potential is what got Kevin Youkliss shipped out last July. The 24-year old hit 15 home runs, drove in 54 runs, and averaged .288 in just 75 games last season–the third-basemen could easily make a run at his first All-Star appearance with numbers like that.
Last but not least, the club bolstered a bullpen that was one of the worst in the league with the signing of former Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. The Sox will also have former All-Star closer Andrew Bailey back from an injury-riddled season in which he only pitched in 15 innings.