Jan 9, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
2013 record: 97-65, 1st place in AL East
Manager: John Farrell, 2nd season
Estimated 2014 payroll: $164 million
Key additions: C A.J. Pierzynski, RHP Edward Mujica
Key losses: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Stephen Drew
RF Shane Victorino
LF Daniel Nava
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
SS Xander Bogaerts
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Will Middlebrooks
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
LHP Jon Lester
RHP John Lackey
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Jake Peavy
RHP Ryan Dempster
CL Koji Uehara
RHP Edward Mujica
RHP Junichi Tazawa
Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Can the kids adequately replace the veterans? It’s never easy replacing your shortstop or your center fielder. The Red Sox have done both after watching Jacoby Ellsbury bolt for a huge payday in New York and Stephen Drew also depart via free agency. Boston is banking on its two best prospects to fill the void: Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Bogaerts certainly made a name for himself in October at third base; now he moves to his natural shortstop position. Bradley Jr. was the darling of spring training 2013; now we find out if he can be an everyday center fielder in the big leagues.
2. How will the pitching staff work with A.J. Pierzynski? The other big roster change is behind the plate, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia now in Miami. Pierzynski’s reputation precedes him. He’s a very good offensive catcher and game-caller. He’s also baseball’s biggest pest, the kind of guy you absolutely despise if you’re playing against him. The Red Sox have some pretty large personalities on their pitching staff. It’s going to be very interesting to watch how they mesh with their new catcher.
3. Can they handle being the favorites again? The charm of the 2013 Red Sox was that they came out of nowhere, rebounding from a last-place finish under Bobby Valentine to win the World Series under John Farrell. They seemed to thrive under that underdog notion, but that won’t be their lot in life this year. They’re back to being the big, bad Red Sox, and that requires a different mindset.
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