Originally posted on Ted's Army  |  Last updated 4/1/13
Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump. The Red Sox didn't get a lot of love from the 43 ESPN "experts" who made their picks for division winners and wild-card teams for the 2013 season, but they weren't shut out either.Four folks list the Red Sox as a wild-card team -- Karl Ravech of "Baseball Tonight", ESPN.com's David Schoenfield, AJ Mass of ESPN Fantasy, and our own eternal optimist Joe McDonald. The Rays and Blue Jays garnered the most votes, but all five teams received some attention as a possible playoff team. The Rays were picked as the division winner 19 times and a wild-card team 12 times, while the Jays got 19 votes as division champ and 11 votes as a wild card. The Orioles were picked as the division winner twice and got four votes as a wild card, and the Yankees got one vote to win the AL East and five votes to be a wild card.  ESPNBoston | ESPN predicts the 2013 season  What a difference a year (or two) makes. Heading into 2011, when the Red Sox famously had the greatest roster ever assembled, all of ESPN's then-45 experts had the Red Sox winning the AL East. A whopping 42 had them winning the AL. Last year expectations dropped so that just a third of the experts had them making the playoffs. And now here we are in 2013. The roster had a major facelift. Out goes the incompetent manager, in comes a guy we certainly hope isn't incompetent (but is as hated in Toronto as Bobby V is in Boston). The injured guys from last year -- sans David Ortiz, which is admittedly a big sans -- are ready to go. But nonetheless, ESPN's experts, who clearly just make their decisions based on who makes the splashiest offseason moves, are all psyched about the Blue Jays, who took most of the best players from a terrible team and all of a sudden are World Series favorites. I don't remember a season where the AL East was this unpredictable. There are reasonable arguments to be made for everyone. The Red Sox could catch a break on the injury bug, hang around until the deadline, acquire another piece or two and make a run. The Blue Jays really could harness all that talent, and Josh Johnson could stay healthy and Mark Buehrle could handle the AL East. The Yankees could ride out their injuries and then play .700 ball once everyone returns. The Rays could continue to live on pitching and defensive shifts and find their way. The Orioles could manage to win a bunch of close games thanks to their bullpen and managing, somehow overcoming their atrocious starting pitching. And while ESPN is down on the Sox, the Ted's Army staff is surprisingly positive, with four of us predicting playoffs (and as the lone dissenter, I said they'd be in contention). That's the fun of opening day, we all have a chance. We can stop fretting about Jacoby Ellsbury's future contract, Jackie Bradley's 2019 status, John Lackey's offseason workout habits, or whether the team is now as loose and determined as the Red Sox marketing wants us to think. We can focus on whether Jon Lester can shut down the Yankees. Now if only they would have it be a night game so we could actually watch. On page 2, an argument for Jon Lester being the most important player on the team. The one thing we’ve seen from Lester in spring training is more accountability. He finally understands how important he is to the success of this franchise. The No. 1 guy takes the pressure off everybody else in the rotation. He sets the tone. A successful No. 1 creates a healthy competition among the other spots in the rotation. A strong Lester should make Clay Buchholz think — “I’m gonna go out there and match him. I’m gonna be even better.” That’s what a No. 1 does. That’s what Sabathia does with Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. That’s what Verlander does with Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer. Lester now has the chance to be that guy. Globe | Jon Lester remains the most important Red Sox player It's a strong argument, although I still find myself thinking Jacoby Ellsbury is the most important player to the team's success. Perhaps Cafardo's experience of being around teams allows him to know the mythical qualities of what a "true ace" means to a staff. As a regular old fan, it's harder for me to find that. I'll take a 2011 Jacoby Ellsbury over whatever the best Jon Lester can put up. Lester is a good bet for a solid year. Not just because of his strong spring (spring numbers are, obviously, close to meaningless), but because his track record suggests that last year is an anomaly more than anything. It happens for pitchers sometimes. Cliff Lee spent time in the minors after he had dominated for the Indians. Sometimes they lose their way for a while. I think Lester gets back on track this year. One last thing: Remember that today is April Fool's Day, so if you see somebody "reporting" that the Red Sox have signed Jackie Bradley Jr. to a $200 million deal, or have traded for Alex Rodriguez, don't start tweeting your outrage too soon.  ESPNBoston | Jackie Bradley Jr. causing a stir | Jackie Bradley makes Red Sox roster | Red Sox-Yankees: Who has the edge? | Fiery Pedroia hopes to spark fans' support | Globe | Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox, the headstrong kid who made it to Fenway Park | Red Sox set to face Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes | CSNNE | Five reasons the Red Sox will contend this year... | ...and five reasons they won't | WEEI | A new beginning? Red Sox look to move on, build from embarrassment of 2012 | GM Ben Cherington: Red Sox farm system deepest he's seen it | Herald | Plenty to like at dawn of new era | Red Sox seek winning formula through chemistry experiment | Jon Lester set for big step | Good guy Jonny Gomes has appetite for playoffs | Prospects look bright | Ex-phenoms Lynn, Garciaparra have advice, praise for JBJ | Ned Yost predicts big things for Jon Lester in 2013 | Meet the 2013 Boston Red Sox | Nightmare of '11 too fresh to forget | AL East preview: Wounded Yankees hope to find a way | GMs don't learn formula in classroom | Ex-Sox enjoy giving back | John Lackey renewed by long road back | AL East preview: Rays rely on pitching once again | Talent still plays major role in results | Herald staff picks | Dempster delivers comic relief, hard work
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Serena Williams posts adorable message to unborn baby on social media

49ers might roll the dice on a QB at No. 2

Report: Saints leaning toward not trading for Butler

NASCAR driver Chris Buescher helps fans amid flash floods at Bristol Motor Speedway

Are Packers players and coaches tired of cheap management?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Joe Johnson crushed Chris Paul and the Clippers while wearing Chris Paul’s shoes

Derrick Rose is touring NBA playoff games as a fan this postseason

Kristaps Porzingis: I want to stay with Knicks, but winning is most important

ESPN and NFL Network agree to not tip draft picks again this year

Joe Mixon pegged as best player in the draft by NFL executive

Jimmy Butler rips Marcus Smart in post-Game 4 interview: ‘He’s not about that life’

Getaway Day: Wild, wacky and weird week in MLB (and that's just the injuries)

11 names you need to know for the NFL Draft

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: David Fizdale and the Grizzlies won't go down quietly

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

25 times Mother Nature disrupted sports

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

Box Score 4/20: When Westbrook isn't enough

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

White House championship visits over the years

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Getaway Day: Wild, wacky and weird week in MLB

11 names you need to know for the NFL Draft

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

In some ways, Dan Rooney was just another NFL owner

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The '♫Happy Birthday Simpsons. Simpsons, it's your birthday♫' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: David Fizdale calls B.S.

Kris Bryant can become the next Derek Jeter — and more

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker