No matter who is chosen as the lefty, it looks like Epstein will be working the phones and scouting the minors for help in this area for a long while this season. My hope is that Reyes, a formerly reliable reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals, becomes a surprise reliable lefty bullpen arm for Boston this year.
Other than that, the Sox have a strong and playoff-bound team on paper. When you have Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez added to the meat of a lineup that also includes Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, that is a nightmare of a lineup for any pitcher to face. And I haven't even mentioned that Jacoby Ellsbury is back from his broken ribs to anchor it at the top and Marco Scutaro will be at the bottom, with J.D. Drew mixed in there in the bottom third as well. The only weakness in offense is at the catching spot, which consists of either the captain Jason Varitek or the young Jarrod Saltalamacchia (depending on which one Francona wants catching a particular pitcher or facing a certain starter in the lineup).
Lastly is the bench. It also looks solid but isn't filled out yet completely, with more cuts to be made in the coming 12 days before the season starts. Veterans Mike Cameron and switch-hitting Varitek will definitely be joined by switch-hitting infielder Jed Lowrie. But between 2010 breakout outfield stars Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, as well as Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick, there's likely to be only room for one of them as fifth outfielder. And if should be McDonald, because of his versatility and clutch hitting from last year. But that's jsut me.
And that has been my first column of 2011. Look out for another one in the coming weeks ahead as rosters are set and the season gets started at long last.
Photo credit/copyright: yawkeytalkies.com