The State of Massachusetts

It has been 118 days since the Boston Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series. Since then, we have been subjected to countless articles of Johan Santana speculation, the Roger Clemens Steroid Saga, and of course the Patriots cementing themselves into second place in the hearts of New England fans. But after a long winter, it’s time for the only season that truly matters.Baseball is back.

Enigmatic closer Jonathan Papelbon threw down the gauntlet last week when he declared the Red Sox as the team to beat this season. Although I appreciate his passion, I think the Sox are going to have their work cut out for them if they hope to defend their title.

I think this season for the Red Sox has the potential to go one of two ways. They could run away with the division, or they could have a really disappointing season. The way that the Sox are set up right now, it looks to me that they are one serious injury to any of their starting pitchers away from being in big trouble. The Sox do not have the depth that they’ve had in the past to sustain any long term injury. Also, what if Manny turns in another poor offensive performance this year? Can Mike Lowell carry the team for another year? Is Jacoby Ellsbury really the next Ted Williams? Can Boston rely on Lester and Buchholz as everyday contributors? Will Pedroia have a sophomore slump? Can Okajima still trick hitters with the oki-doke?I am not trying to be a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy, but there should be some concerns on this team. Last year, the Yankees started slow and the Sox were able to build a big division lead, They always got the big hit when they needed it, and fortunately avoided any key injuries.

So were the Red Sox that good last year, or were they just luckier then the rest? With everyone else in the league gunning to knock off the champs, they are going to need to be both if they hope to repeat.