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Posts Tagged ‘Fort Myers’

Okay.  Spring Training is officially in full swing.  We can say that because now the entire roster is officially in Fort Myers.  In reality, most of the entire roster has been down there for some time because they were early.  Like I said, this is a good thing.  It may have made Tuesday, when all the position players were supposed to report which would mark the definitive moment when the team started preparing for what is supposed to be a championship season, pretty anticlimactic, but it means they’ll get some extra training in, which is obviously good.

But now that everyone’s there and ready to get going, it’s finally time to talk about what we want to see from each of them this year.

I want to see at least thirty starts from Beckett, Lackey, and Dice-K.  Lester and Buchholz absolutely can not be expected to shoulder the load of an entire season.  So at least thirty starts each.  Especially from Beckett.  Beckett decided to tweak is offseason training regimen, focusing this winter on core stability.  He lost some weight, he feels great, and he looks good, which is a huge relief, because his last season was abysmal.  Lackey also switched up his offseason routine; he got a new trainer, and ran more and focused on cardio exercises.  So he’s also lost some weight, he’s moving around better, and of course he’s heading into his sophomore season with us, which is when new Boston pitchers really get going.  So I expect some seriously stellar stuff from him.  He’s starting our first Grapefruit League game today.  As far as Dice-K is concerned, there’s not much to say.  2007 was a miracle year for him.  I call it a miracle year because he hasn’t been able to duplicate it in Boston since.  He’s had about as many issues with durability and consistency as anyone could possibly tolerate, and all I want to see from him this year is health.  I only want to see him not go on the DL.  That’s all I want.  At this point, that really shouldn’t be too much to ask.  He looks good in camp as well so far.  Most of the rotation threw thirty pitches in their first side session.  He threw forty-five.  If he can support that work, that’s fine.  I just want to see him penciled into every fifth start for an entire year.

As far as Lester and Buchholz are concerned, there’s not much I want to see that I haven’t seen already.  From Lester, I want to see two things: a better month of April and a lower walk total.  Every year without fail, his Aprils are terrible.  And last season may have been a good one for him overall, but it also was marked by eighty-three walks, a career high.  He’s going to fix that problem with brute focus.  In baseball, you can never afford to take it easy and assume an out.  So turn up the voltage in April and turn down the walks, and we’re talking Cy Young.  And while he’s at it, twenty wins would be nice too.  Regarding Buchholz, like I said, there’s not much I want to see that I haven’t seen already.  He’s not setting any statistical goals for himself this year.  But I’m not him, so I say twenty wins from him as well also be nice.

I want to see at least forty-five saves from Paps.  He’s had a sub-par year, but he’s still an elite closer.  But if he wants to keep that title, he’s got some work to do.  He blew too many saves we couldn’t afford to blow.  He’s surpassed the forty-save mark before, in 2008 with forty-one, but after some of the numbers he put up last season, in an ideal world I’d like to see something spectacular from him.

From the bullpen collectively, I want to see it pick up slack.  I want it to be a sturdy, viable go-to option for Tito in any scenario.  Our bullpen is powerful, capable, and diverse, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be able to sustain a season’s worth of work, giving starters and closer a day off here and there, bailing them out when necessary, and still have plenty of health in the tank.  This year, I want to not hold my breath when I see Tito pick up that phone.

From Adrian Gonzalez, I want to see everything we’re hoping for: good defense and good offense over the long term.  It’s pretty basic.  We acquired him for a reason.  This is his first year with us, and he had the surgery on his right shoulder, so he may not be at his one-hundred-percent best, but I want to see something pretty close.  Something in the ballpark (pun intended) of upwards of 130 RBIs.  This is obviously a stretch.  Obviously.  But at Fenway, I don’t think it’s as much of a stretch as it would be elsewhere.  Adrian Gonzalez was born to step up to the plate in a close game and just take batting practice off the Green Monster.

From Pedroia, I’m going for playing time.  He’s one of our toughest players, and I want to see him spend as much time as he possibly can on the field and at the plate.  I still don’t even like thinking about that foul ball that just happened to hit that one spot on the top of his foot (what are the chances?), and all I want is for him to be back and action.  Let’s say 650 plate appearances.  He’s done it before, and he can do it again.

From Scutaro, I want to see an increase in offensive production across the board.  I want him to not be a weak link in the otherwise strong chain of our lineup.  I don’t want him to be a sigh of relief for opposing pitchers, especially since his durability is really solid; he made a career-high 632 plate appearances last season, and that with his own fair share of various ailments.  From Scutaro and also from Varitek, I want to see an OPS close to .800.  From Salty, I want to see reassurance in some form that he’ll be able to not only do his job but do his job well.  Because, to be honest with you, he worries me.

From Youk on the field, I want to see what I saw at first base, at third.  And I want to see him reach his self-set goal of posting a .980 OPS this year.  He was close last year.  This isn’t an unrealistic expectation.

Papi needs to increase his production on southpaws.  Last season, this was a noticeable fault, and it created problems not just for the team and its ability to win but also for his own ability to succeed.  If he continues to be weak against lefties, he’ll have to be taken out of the lineup against lefties.  That means that any roll he happens to be on at the moment will be interrupted.  That happened last season, and it wasn’t good.  With everyone pressuring him with all their negative expectations, he’s fighting a psychological battle that won’t be helped by time on the bench.

When it comes to Crawford, I’m thinking about runs scored.  Runs scored is an interesting statistic because it’s affected by so many things: hits, walks, and steals.  With the emphasis on that last one for this guy.  His speed will play a very intriguing role in his ability to score runs, and I’m looking for at least a hundred.  He scored 110 last season, good for seventh in the Majors.  Put someone like that on the base paths with a potent lineup like ours, and it should be a walk in the park.  Pun obviously intended.  He’ll be debuting Monday against the Twins.

Let’s talk about Ellsbury.  Ellsbury had the entire season and offseason to rest, recover, and recoup from his injury.  And he is now officially completely healthy.  He has absolutely no restrictions on his movement and is fully prepared for Spring Training.  He’s going back to center field where he belongs, so I want to see plenty of classic diving catches on the run.  He’ll probably bat first, so I want to see good production in leadoff right out of the gate.  And, since no conversation about Ellsbury would ever be complete without a mention of steals, I’d like to see him steal something like sixty bags this year.

Put together my goals for Dice-K and Papi and you have my goal for Drew: stay off the disabled list and increase production against southpaws.  He has the potential to be a great hitter; he’s shown himself to be such in the past.  But he’s not going to have much of an impact if he spends a lot of time on the bench or if he doesn’t seize at-bats against lefties as his times to shine.  By the way, his left hamstring is doing much better, and he’s out on the field, which is a good sign.  Also, this year is actually a contract year.  He’s at the end of his five-year deal.  So maybe he’ll pick it up a notch.

Last but certainly not least, from the team as a whole I want to see a picture of health, at least fifty wins at home, at least one hundred wins overall, and a World Series.  Boom.  Done.  What could be better than that?

The team has already had its first official full workout.  It went very well.  And it started with a standing ovation for the ownership group, honoring the moves they made this winter.  That’s extremely unusual.  Players don’t give standing ovations to the front office and the brass just because they went out and made some acquisitions.  But as usual, in Boston we know how to do it right, and that was right.  We one-hit Boston College, beating them for the twenty-first time yesterday, and we crushed Northeastern, 13-2, in the nightcap.  Clearly we’re off to a proper start.

In other news, the Bruins signed defenseman Shane Hnidy.  And we won both of our games this week, the first against the Flames, the last against the Canucks, and we’re playing the Oilers tonight.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Okay.  Now Spring Training is really underway.  And you know what that means: baseball.  It’s pretty obvious, but when you actually reflect on the fact that live baseball is happening as we speak, it’s such a relief.

The countdown to Opening Day continues: exactly four weeks.  We can make it.

Meanwhile, this week in Fort Myers was all about the pitchers.  Everybody debuted this week.  (Except Dice-K, who threw a promising session off the mound on Monday and side session on Friday but who, according to Tito, will not be ready for Opening Day.  Shocker.)

Although, before I get into that, I’ll say this about Spring Training: it produces a lot of unnecessary worry when you focus on the scores.  Keep in mind that Spring Training is experimentation central.  Lineups get changed around, starters become relievers, relievers become starters, and starters rarely stay in for more than half the game.  The score means a lot less than the story behind it.  Take, for example, our game against Minnesota on Thursday, during which Beckett made his debut.  We won, 2-1.  Am I going to worry because we didn’t clobber them like we should have? Absolutely not, because it’s Spring Training.  I’m more interested in how sharp Beckett looked, how many pitches he threw, whether he was comfortable on the mound, and how well he accomplished his goal of keeping his fastball down in the zone.

And now, without further ado: on Wednesday, we saw Bonser and Kelly in the college double-header, which we obviously swept.  Kelly threw ten pitches against Northeastern, seven of which were strikes.  Two of his outs were Ks on changeups.  By the way, he’s only twenty years old.  Bonser threw a nine-pitch inning and got the win over Boston College.  Not bad, considering he didn’t set foot on a mound once last year.

We kicked off Grapefruit ball on Thursday against Minnesota, as I said.  Beckett pitched two frames, allowed two hits and one run, and struck out one.  Nineteen of his twenty-seven pitches were strikes.  He did indeed his fastball down, and if he continues to do that successfully, our infield is going to have its work cut out for it, with the difference between last season and this season being that now it can handle it.  Scutaro especially was ranging and flashing some nice leather.  It’s so good to have a solid defensive shortstop again.  Paps enjoyed a one-two-three inning; hopefully that’s an indication of what’s to come.

Friday’s performance against Minnesota wasn’t great.  Jon Lester’s first five batters singled, walked, walked, doubled, and singled, in that order.  Yeah.  Not the way you want to start Spring Training.  He couldn’t even stay in the game to repair the damage because he’d thrown thirty-three pitches.  Wake, on the other hand, coasted through two innings of two-hit ball; sixteen of his twenty-two pitches were strikes.  He looks ready to go.

And yesterday, we had the debut we’d all been waiting for.  John Lackey, ladies and gentlemen! Six Twins stepped up, and six Twins went down in just twenty pitches.  He was fast, he was sharp, and he was on.  No mercy.  This is going to be a sweet season.  And let’s give some points to DeMarlo Hale, our new bench coach, for managing that victory while Tito was managing the away squad in Port Charlotte.

Mike Cameron was injured this week.  Adrian Gonzalez wants $180 million for eight years.  Why does that sound so familiar.

A great week, I’d say.  We’ve seen promising performances from all but one of our starters, and I’m not worried about that one.  It’s very early yet, but the future of the 2010 season looks bright.  And that’s what Spring Training is all about, isn’t it? Optimistic speculation.  We’re going to have some fun this year.

Don’t look now, but the Bruins have won five of their last six.  (That loss was a contest with the Habs that ended in a score of 4-1.  I’d rather not talk about it.) And we’ve got a subpar schedule coming up; our next six games are on the road.  The coming weeks are going to be crucial.  Our sixty-nine points have seeded us seventh in the conference, a mere point behind the Habs.  We need to make sure we stay in the top eight; otherwise, our season is done in the middle of next month.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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We’re more than halfway through the season.  In fact, it’s already August, when more than the weather gets hot.  Each and every Major League club goes into playoff mode, but only a select few will get there.  There isn’t a doubt in my mind that we will most definitely be one of the few.  We’ve dominated our division.  Toronto started the season strong but has since slipped into fourth place and was seriously contemplating trading Roy Halladay to get some much-needed fresh blood into the clubhouse.  The Baltimore Orioles did the usual: fell to the bottom of the pack.  They’re twenty games out now, which is quite pathetic.  The Rays have been nonexistent in third place, even though somehow they just managed to sweep us in a two-game set, and we’ve been wiping the floor with the Yankees and are ready for another go-around.  It’s been fantastic.  We’re currently undefeated against New York.  Let me say that again.  We’re currently undefeated against New York.  Feels good, doesn’t it? So we start the two-month playoff rush in a decent place: two and a half games out and ready to rock and roll.  Not great but it could be worse.

Every year, Boston.com grades the team individually and overall at the All-Star break, with a little help from Tony Massarotti.  You can find Boston.com’s report card here.  I’ll be taking a break for about twelve days, but I’ll leave you with a report card of my own: a late-season grading of that team we all know and love.

Jason Varitek: A

Compare this year to last year.  So far this year, he’s hit thirteen home runs, batted in forty-four runs, scored thirty-seven runs, and has sixty-four hits.  Last year, he hit thirteen home runs, batted in forty-three runs, scored thirty-seven runs, and had ninety-three hits.  And this season isn’t even over yet.  So he’s significantly exceeded his numbers from last year in all of those categories, and he’s thirty-seven years old.  Experiencing a renaissance at the catcher’s position and at that age isn’t easy, but he worked closely with hitting coach Dave Magadan to make that happen with very positive results.  And we still get all of the goodness behind the plate; he’s got a 3.72 catcher’s ERA, the fourth-lowest in Major League Baseball.

Victor Martinez: A

Theo landed him at the trading deadline to add another big bat to the lineup.  Victor Martinez has done that and more, making an immediate impact and finding a groove right away.  He adds his .294 average, sixteen home runs, and seventy-three RBIs as well as a fielding percentage of upwards of .990 at first base.  He hasn’t made an error at catcher all season.  He plays first, he catches, he DHes; he does it all in the field and, as a switch-hitter who bats .307 from the left and a decent .258 from the right, at the plate.  A brilliant acquisition yet again by our general manager.

Kevin Youkilis: A

I have nothing to complain about here.  He consistently bats at or above .300 with a .422 on-base percentage and a .580 slugging percentage.  He’s hit twenty home runs this year, so his power numbers are up but not at the expense of his walks (fifty-six) or other hits.  That, plus his defense.  He moves between third and first like it’s the easiest thing in the world.  And these are his numbers with a stint on the DL and a slump during which he batted .194 over twenty-eight games.

Dustin Pedroia: A-

I give the kid an A.  Unlike many reigning MVPs, he’s not having a bad season the year after winning the award.  He’s batting above .300.  His power numbers are down, but he’s batted in forty-six runs and hit thirty-one doubles.  He’s second among Major League second basemen in runs and doubles, third in hits, fifth in walks, third in batting average, and fourth in on-base percentage.  Of course the top-notch fielding can’t be ignored, even though his .987 fielding percentage is low.  Still, he’s a dirt dog if I’ve ever seen one.

Mike Lowell: B

His 2007 season was outstanding.  His 2008 season, not as much.  His season this year will be a test of whether he can successfully rebound from his hip surgery.  He’s done that so far, posting a .296 batting average and .817 OPS, good for fifth in the American League among third basemen.  And after his three weeks on the DL in the first half, he’s really come on strong in the second.  We headed into the All-Star break thinking we needed another bat, and now we have one.  (Actually, we have two, since the acquisition of V-Mart.) As far as his fielding goes, the hip does prevent him from going the extra mile sometimes, but that’s rare enough.

Nick Green: B

Nick Green really stepped up to the plate.  Definitely an unsung hero of the team.  Jed Lowrie was out, and we were looking at a long stretch of errors from Julio Lugo.  Then some non-roster Spring Training invitee stepped in and lo and behold.  Lugo lost his job, and Green made the most of his opportunity to start.  His offense is his weakness, walkoff home run notwithstanding.

Jason Bay: A-

This man is phenomenal.  Theo Epstein hasn’t been able to lock him up yet, but he will.  Jason Bay is too good to let walk into the free agent market.  We’ll sign him.  Anyway, he does the usual.  He hits for average (the .252 is a little low but the .279 career gets the point across) and power (twenty-one home runs).  He fields (no errors at all this season).  He’s seventh in the American League in RBIs and first in walks with seventy-one.  He did go through a rather pronounced slump during which he batted .153 and struck out twenty-five times in seventeen games, but with a strong second half, which may be hampered by his right hamstring issue, he could be in the running for MVP along with Youkilis and Pedroia.

Jacoby Ellsbury: A

Whatever issues he may have had at the plate last year have been solved.  Ellsbury batted .287 in April, then .308 in May, then .313 in June.  He’s now batting .301.  With six home runs and thirty-five RBIs.  He’s gotten really comfortable at the top of the order, and there’s that whole stolen bases thing.  Since the start of last season, only Carl Crawford has more thefts.  And that steal of home against Andy Pettitte will be playing on highlight reels for the rest of the decade.  This speed translates perfectly from the basepaths to center field, where he makes the most difficult and convoluted catches look like walks in the park.

JD Drew: B

Theo Epstein knew exactly what he was getting when he signed Drew to a five-year, $14 million-per-season contract.  He’s batting .248.  With an on-base percentage of .365.  Consistently.  That’s the key.  You always know what you’ll get with Drew: nothing great, but nothing too bad, either.  And get this: the Red Sox are fourth in the American League in OPS in right field.  He’s put those numbers to good use in the leadoff spot, and the one-two punch of him and Pedroia has become something to be feared by opposing pitchers.  With Ellsbury fitting perfectly into that leadoff role now, he finds himself batting lower in the order, but his consistency remains intact.  He mans right field well, which isn’t something you can say for everyone who plays the position in Fenway Park.

David Ortiz: B+

I never thought I’d give that grade to David Ortiz, but you can blame it on his horrendous first two months.  His lowest point was June 2, when he batted .186 with one home run, eighteen RBIs, and an OPS of just .566 in forty-seven games.  Ugh.  But then, what a turnaround.  I want everyone who said he was done to take a good, long look at the following numbers: in his next thirty-four games, he led the team in home runs with eleven, RBIs with 29, and OPS with 1.011.  That, my friends, is Big Papi.  So far he’s batted .225 with fifteen home runs, so the numbers continue to climb.  With a solid second half, the season might not turn out to be so bad for him.

George Kottaras: B-

Let’s remember why he’s here.  He’s here to catch Tim Wakefield.  He’s not here to hit or to take the reins from Jason Varitek; those two responsibilities fall squarely on the shoulders of Victor Martinez.  He’s here to catch knuckleballs every fifth day and give the captain an extra day of rest if he needs it.  And he’s done a great job of that.  Less than ten passed balls and a 5.08 catcher’s ERA.  As far as offense goes, there really isn’t any, but again, that’s not the point.

Jeff Bailey: C

Again, we knew what we were getting here.  Key players were out with injuries, and we needed someone to fill in.  He’s significantly better against lefties (.400) than righties (.111), and the defense is fine enough (no errors).  He wasn’t staying in the Majors anyway, so it’s not a big deal.

Rocco Baldelli: A-

He was signed to provide backup in right field and to handle southpaws.  He hasn’t seen much playing time because of his health concerns, but he’s still batting .261.  Something he’s not usually credited with is a really strong arm.  He practically won the game for us when Lester dueled with Kansas City’s Brian Bannister on July 10; Ellsbury had been ejected for throwing equipment in frustration when called out at the plate, so Rocco Baldelli came in.  He gunned down a Royal at second, something Ellsbury probably would’ve have been able to pull off.  That was key.

Josh Beckett: A

Obviously.  Quite simply, he is an ace.  He is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever seen.  He had a 7.22 ERA to start June, but look at him now.  In his last thirteen starts before the All-Star break, he’s 9-1 with a 2.14 ERA.  Currently, he’s thirteen and four with a 3.27 ERA that just keeps dropping.  This is shaping up to be a Cy Young year.  Again.  Hopefully they’ll get it right this time.

Jon Lester: A

It’s almost the exact same story.  His rough patch was about two weeks longer than Beckett’s, but his turnaround was just as rapid and just as dramatic.  He is now the best southpaw in all of Major League Baseball.  In the middle of May, he was looking at a 6.51 ERA.  In his ten starts before the All-Star break, he was 6-2 with a 2.01 ERA.  He’s now nine and seven with a 3.79 ERA, but don’t let that fool you.  Theo knew what he had here.  Who needs Johan Santana when you have Lester.

Tim Wakefield: A

He’s eleven and three with a 4.31 ERA.  He’s an All-Star.  He carried a no-no bid into the eighth inning on the road against the A’s this year.  By the way, did I mention he’s forty-two years old? He’s the longest-tenured member of the club, and all he does is consistently give us quality innings and put us in a position to win.  It’s not his fault if he doesn’t get any run support.

Daizuke Matsuzaka: F

Fail.  Epic fail.  Without a doubt, this is the lowest grade I gave this year.  Eight starts, 1-5 with an 8.23 ERA.  The Sox’s record is 2-6 in those starts.  Awful.  Just awful.  And we can thank Bud Selig and the World Baseball Classic for that.  Dice-K went hard during the Classic and basically blew his season along with his shoulder.  He finally seems to be receptive to adapting to the Major League way of doing things (but only after airing his grievances), and after a stint on the DL, he’s now down in Fort Myers basically catching up on all the Spring Training he missed while pitching for Japan.  Just a big, huge, epic fail.

Brad Penny: C

He’s a number five starter.  He never pitches less than five innings, and he never pitches more than six.  He usually gives up about three runs per outing.  And he does this every single time he starts.  Consistency has been the name of his game, but it’s withered considerably in the second half.  He’s been struggling lately.

John Smoltz: C

Two and four with a 7.12 ERA isn’t the John Smoltz I was expecting, but then I stepped back and remembered why we signed him.  We signed him for October.  He has more wins in the postseason than any other pitcher, and he’s here to bring some of that success to us.  We can weather regular-season spottiness if it means some major Ws in the postseason, but the problem is that it just doesn’t seem like he’s peaking at all.  If the goal is to peak late, we should see glimmers of brilliance this month.  Maybe we will, starting tonight.  It doesn’t look likely, though.

Ramon Ramirez: A

The bullpen’s unsung hero.  Theo’s trade of Coco Crisp for this man was genius.  During his sixteen-game rough patch in the first half, his ERA was 5.02, and we all know it wasn’t pleasant to watch him during that stretch.  But he’s gotten better.  And he’s one of the best overall.  His ERA is 2.28, and less than ten relievers in the Majors have an ERA lower than his.  One of them being Jonathan Papelbon.

Daniel Bard: A

Daniel Bard has a long way to go, but he’s getting there fast.  As his confidence grows, so does Terry Francona’s.  He’s using him more and more, and Bard is stepping up and delivering.  A 2.25 ERA, and keep in mind that what you are seeing here is our setup man of the future.  Who tops out at one hundred miles per hour.  Imagine that.  The one-two punch of Bard and Papelbon.  Unhittable.

Takashi Saito: C

He was supposed to be our third-day closer, but with the bullpen being the best in baseball and all, he hasn’t really been used that consistently.  Actually, he’s mostly used when we’re losing.  If the bullpen stays healthy, we don’t really need him that much.  He’s been decent; 3.32 ERA.  But we have better.

Manny Delcarmen: B

He’s a workhorse who gets the job done and keeps the ERA low at 3.05.  Delcarmen is consistent, healthy, and can handle more than one inning of work if necessary.

Hideki Okajima: A

We keep talking about his epic season in 2007 while he’s having one of those right under our noses.  Since the start of that season, he’s been among the top ten relievers in the game in ERA.  A 2.98 ERA is not something to be taken for granted.  He’s a fantastic setup man.

Javier Lopez: D

He had a horrible start to the season and was optioned to the minor leagues.  Tito used him when he shouldn’t have been used: against righties.  But now the bullpen is having some trouble handling lefties, and he’s improved in the minors.  If he’s able to works his way back up, we could be all too ready to welcome him back.

Jonathan Papelbon: B

Many of his saves have been sloppy.  The one-two-three inning that’s been his trademark in the past hasn’t been as common this year.  But that’s changing.  Here’s the thing.  Papelbon has to be used every so often whether we need him or not because he needs to get his work in.  But when you put your closer in again where the team is leading, he doesn’t get the same high-pressure, adrenaline-rush-inducing sensation, and he relaxes.  And when he relaxes, he can’t sustain that fierce competitiveness.  I think Papelbon’s experienced that this year, which incidentally is a credit to our lineup.  The point is that recently, in close games, the one-two-three inning has resurfaced and seems to be appearing more and more often.  Numbers-wise, his problem is walks.  He’s giving up many more walks this year than he did last year.

Terry Francona: A

Again, obviously.  We’re almost leading the division again.  We’re set to appear in October again.  We’ll win the World Series again.  All with Terry Francona at the helm.  This is the first year of his three-year contract extension, and he’s the first Boston manager to begin a sixth season in about sixty years.  Sixty years.  Finally.  And rightfully so.  There are a lot of different personalities floating around in that clubhouse, and they all blend together seamlessly without a hitch.  A lot of that has to do with Tito.  Now that the revolving door for manager has closed, it’s time to seal the one at shortstop, too.

Theo Epstein: A

The man is a genius.  In Theo we trust, and he always comes through.  He’s made two major mistakes that I can recall: Eric Gagne and Julio Lugo, and so far that’s been it.  And even those weren’t that bad in the long run.  He went after bargain pitchers this offseason, and it paid off; we have one of the best rotations and definitely the best bullpen in the game.  All we need to do is work on hitting for the long-term and we’ll be all set.  Theo Epstein is someone Red Sox Nation and I can trust to do that.

The Boston Red Sox Overall: B+

We’re heading into August and we are poised to go on a tear.  The postseason is approaching.  Expect us to win it all.  We have what has to be the deepest team in Major League Baseball.  We have hitting.  We have pitching.  We have fielding.  We have the wherewithal to bring another World Series trophy to the city of Boston.  And we will.  Because we can.

Boston Globe Staf/Jim Davis

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