Boston Red Sox
SLEEPER J.D. Drew's injury history has dropped him outside the Top 100, but he's a potential monster in Boston's lineup and has played 145 games in two of the last three seasons.
BUST Julio Lugo's best asset, his speed, will be wasted on a team that just doesn't believe in the running.
HITTER TO WATCH: Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Ellsbury is already a top-line defensive centerfielder, and he gets on base as well. His upside is only limited by his lack of power.
PITCHER TO WATCH: Clay Buchholz, RHP
Buchholz still has to pass the AA test, but his plus fastball/curve combo would look nice in a jumbled Boston bullpen come August.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED Theo Epstein knows numbers, and the stats screamed at him after last season. The Red Sox led the majors in runs scored in 2003, '04 and '05. But in 2006 they tied for ninth, with 820, a drop of 141 since '03. "A significant decline," Epstein says. So while the GM spent much of the offseason pursuing a certain Japanese pitcher, he also reloaded the lineup by adding high-energy Julio Lugo and OPS machine J.D. Drew. As a complementary player in the middle of the order, Drew could be devastating if (all together now) he can stay healthy. Consider that Manny Ramírez, David Ortiz and Drew finished first, 11th and 17th in OBP among all ML hitters last year. To Epstein, the numbers look much better now.
NEEDS FIXING After much hand-wringing and rumors, the Red Sox put Jonathan Papelbon back in the closer role. He spent the winter strengthening his shoulder, but managing his workload will be key to avoiding another injury-shortened season. At least for now, Red Sox Nation doesn't have to worry about a closer-by-committee.
LHP Jon Lester turned 23 in January, and that was good news. Now the cancer survivor is aiming to reclaim a starting job. With Papelbon closing again, why not?
Larry Lucchino went goodwill hunting when he sent the 2004 World Series trophy on a tour to any Bay State town that wanted to see it. Too bad the Beantown box office doesn't accept goodwill as payment for the league's priciest seats ($46.46).
"Boston has the best pitching in the division and the offense remains potent overall, although still down from '04. Keys for success include keeping healthy, stepping it up on defense, Manny staying focused, and a some bad luck by the Yankees."