The Boston Red Sox have undergone some serious changes in the past year. The big-name players in the middle of their lineup are gone, long-time ace Josh Beckett has been traded as well, and the team is clearly rebuilding. With talented young players and pitching poised for a bounce-back season, can the Red Sox compete in a suddenly-loaded AL East?
Boston lost key players at last year’s trade deadline and this offseason. By and large, the Sox elected not to replace Adrian Gonzalez or Kevin Youkilis. Will Middlebrooks seems ready to fill in at third base, but the lineup won’t be all that different from last season except for Gonzalez’s departure. The loss of Gonzalez will definitely hurt.
The problem with the lineup looking so similar to last year’s team, save for their .300-hitting, 40-homer 1st baseman, is that the lineup struggled last year. Assuming Middlebrooks is prepared to contribute, the Red Sox still lack punch. Theirs is one of the weaker lineups in the division.
Pitching has a variety of questions to answer as well. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are coming off terrible seasons, while Ryan Dempster has yet to prove he can pitch through the deeper lineups of the American League. The bullpen is strong, but the starting pitching rotation could be a weak point again for the Boston Red Sox.
With too many questions on the mound, and a shallow lineup with limited power, the Red Sox are going to have a difficult time competing in the AL East. While everyone else in the division stayed playoff caliber or made big moves this offseason, Boston seems content to wait for their talent to develop. Such a mentality could prove to squander the 2013 season in addition to last year’s pathetic effort.
In the end, the Boston Red Sox will not compete this year.