Baseball is finally here. While Spring Training can hold people off, many are fiending for the season to start. We're right there with you. We look forward to the brutal grind of the baseball season. The braintrust behind Ted's Army came together and put out expectations for our beloved Boston Red Sox and how they would fair in the 2013 campaign. Without further ado... I give you part two of the Ted's Army season preview.
Who’s ready to have a break-out season?
Tucker Silva: It has to be Jackie Bradley Jr. Hyped for a few years now, Bradley Jr. has been raking at Spring Training and is in serious consideration to make the team out of the gate. No fluke here folks, this kid is the real deal and the future of the soon-to-be "Post-Ellsbury" era.
Nick Karalis: Jon Lester. Some could argue he has had his break-out
season, but the change in the clubhouse and coaching staff could make for a Cy
Young season for Lester. I thought it would be last season, but I feel better
about it this year.
Aaron Gettings: This question would have been much more fun to answer had Cherington taken my advice and started a bunch of kids. Instead, the roster is filled with mostly established players. But I'm going to put my money on Jarrod Saltalamacchia. It's a make-or-break season for him. He either shines and secures a nice payday and job (whether that's in Boston or elsewhere), or he continues to be ho-hum. I think he'll make the most of his contract-year.
Ben Fountain: I'll go with Will Middlebrooks. He had his coming out party last year and made Red Sox fans realize that Youk was no longer had what we needed. His wrist injury was the cherry on top of the **** sundae that was the 2012 season. I'm excited to see what he'll do for a full 162 game stretch. Wake & Rake will be in full force this season.
Scott Priest: I don't think anyone on the team really qualifies for a breakout, at least the way I think of it. I'm not high on Middlebrooks or Doubront this year, and it seems odd to answer this with a veteran. Since there's nowhere else for me to put this, I will say I think John Lackey will be the best we've seen him in a Red Sox uniform, and will be a useful player.
Who has the most pressure to perform to their potential in 2013?
Although he looks fine here, a majority of us agree that Mike Napoli has the most pressure to perform with his hip condition.
Tucker: This is it for Clay Buchholz. We have seen his stuff and high potential for several years now. It's time to man up and take control of this staff. You're an ace or you ain't kid. It's 200-innings or bust for Buchholz.
Nick: Mike Napoli Even with the re-structured contract, Sox fans
will be expecting a lot from him. With the lack of power in the offense, the
Red Sox are going to need him to fill in the gap left by the departure of
Adrian Gonzalez and Ortiz on the DL. The same argument can be made for all
starting pitching this season.
Aaron: I could list a few guys here, but I'm going with Mike Napoli. He has to prove that his hip isn't going to slow down his production on the field. It already caused him to take a massive pay-cut ($5/one year from $39/three years) from the contract he originally negotiated with Boston. And while he's not going to get an offer like that again, regardless of his stats, he could parlay a productive, healthy year into something substantial. His career truly depends on it. That's pressure.
Ben: Has to be Mike Napoli. I was hoping that he'd sign here since October since I was tired of seeing him kick our ass. His hip issue caused him to lose $34 million in money from the Sox. He now has a chance to prove that he can still perform on the field and maybe make up some of that lost cash. Here's hoping that signing another Red Sox killer doesn't kill the Red Sox like Carl Crawford did.
Scott: Without questions, it's Jacoby Ellsbury. If he performs to his potential, the team gets a 7- or 8-win player, and he heads into free agency asking for $200 million. If he doesn't, it's hard to imagine the team being successful, and his bank account won't be nearly as full in 2014.
Who’s the likeliest candidate to be traded mid-season?
Sorry Salty, but you're odds on favorite to be the first that's shipped out of Boston.
Tucker: Many options here considering the abundance of one-year deals, but I'd have to go with Joel Hanrahan. He was acquired as a stop-gap closer and to build possible trade value, given it being the last year on his contract.
Aaron: Jarrod Saltalamacchia. As stated above, I think he's going to have a breakout year and earn a nice payday for himself. But those checks won't be coming out of John Henry's bank account. They'll let him build up his value and then ship him off to some catcher-hungry squad and officially hand the reigns over to Lavarnway, under the tutelage of Ross and Napoli.
Saltalmachhia. I believe the Sox are still pretty high on Ryan Lavarnway, even
though he hasn’t played to his potential in Boston. Salty’s trade value has
risen over the past two seasons and could prove to be a valuable trade piece to
make this team a definite contender for a playoff spot.
Ben: Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He's a catcher who can hit 25 home runs a season, which is a rarity and definitely going to bring in some suitors. Fortunately for the Sox, they believe Ryan Lavarnway is also one of these catchers. They'll let Jarrod play and (hopefully) get his stock pretty high and send him off to the Mets or another team in desperate need of an offensive catcher.
Scott: If they're out of the race and dealing off veterans, then Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Stephen Drew, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Koji Uehara, and Joel Hanrahan. If they're gunning for a playoff spot and are looking for reinforcements, either Salty or Lavarnway, Bryce Brentz, and Iglesias. When you add it all up, looks like Salty is the likeliest to be traded.