10 burning questions with Edes and Mac

April, 4, 2012
As part of our Red Sox season preview, we asked our baseball scribes -- Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald -- to answer 10 burning questions on the 2012 Red Sox. Below are their responses. Share your thoughts as well by answering the poll questions or leaving comments.

1. How many wins for the Red Sox this season? And where do they finish in the AL East? Will they make the playoffs?

EDES: This team will win 91 games, finish second in the AL East and squeeze into the playoffs as the second wild card. The Yankees will win the division and the Rays will finish out of the playoff hunt ... barely.

McDONALD: Believe it or not, the Red Sox will fly under the radar this season. That’s not to say their manager will, but Bobby Valentine’s presence will take the pressure off the players. Similar to 2011, the divisional race will come down to the final week of the season, only this time the Red Sox will earn a postseason berth as a wild card after finishing second in the AL East with a 94-68 record.

2. Fill in the blank: By the end of the season, the hiring of Bobby Valentine will be seen as __________.

EDES: A catalyst for one of the most entertaining rides in Red Sox history, with the charismatic manager providing nonstop grist for Bobby lovers and haters.

McDONALD: One way or another, it will be seen as courageous. His hiring will go one of two ways: It’ll either be exactly what this team needed and he will have tremendous success, or his my-way-or-the-highway philosophy will grow old and the players will tune him out. There will be no middle ground.

3. More likely to bounce back this season: Carl Crawford or Clay Buchholz?

EDES: Clay Buchholz. His career is on an upward arc. Crawford has a much steeper decline to reverse.

McDONALD: Crawford. While both will respond from a disappointing 2011 season, the idea that Buchholz will be 100 percent healthy this year after dealing with a stress fracture in his lower back last summer is questionable. Despite having wrist surgery in January and not being able to start the season on time, Crawford is expecting to have a big year. He wants to erase what happened during his first year in Boston. Given that Crawford is an everyday player, his impact will be a major factor.

4. Josh Beckett had a 2.89 ERA last season. Will his ERA this season be better or worse?

EDES: Beckett will have a very good season, but tough to post back-to-back sub-3 ERAs. It will go up.

McDONALD: Worse. The veteran right-hander has not been dominating opposing hitters on a consistent basis since 2009 and there’s no evidence that he will be able to reverse that trend. He’s been too comfortable and not completely healthy since the Sox extended his contract and gave him $68 million for four years at the start of 2011. He turns 32 in May and needs to have a big year, but we’re skeptical.

5. Who will end up being more valuable: Daniel Bard or Alfredo Aceves?

EDES: Aceves will prove to be a critical component of the Sox staff, just as he was last season, and don’t be surprised if he closes some games for the Sox in the wake of the Andrew Bailey injury.

McDONALD: Even before the injury to Andrew Bailey, I believed that Bard would be more valuable to the Red Sox as the club’s closer. Even though the Sox still intend to keep him as a starter to begin the season, I still believe he will eventually return to the bullpen. That’s not to say I don’t think Bard will have success as a starter, I just think he could be at his best as a closer. Aceves has proven to handle each role successfully. I would like to see Valentine give Aceves a chance to start on a consistent basis.

6. The performance of _______ will be the biggest surprise for the Sox this season.

EDES: It would be easy to say Cody Ross based on his spring, but I’m saying Mike Aviles will exceed expectations, even if he ultimately finishes season in super-utility role.

McDONALD: Cody Ross will find a comfortable home at Fenway Park and will be utilized well in the corner outfield positions. Once Carl Crawford is healthy and back in the lineup on an everyday basis, Ross will be a major factor as a right-handed bat off the bench when he’s not starting.

7. Give us the final stat lines for Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis (AVG/OPS/HR/RBIs)?

8. What’s your predicted Opening Day lineup for the Red Sox?

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Cody Ross, LF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
8. Ryan Sweeney, RF
9. Mike Aviles, SS

9. Will Andrew Bailey lead the Red Sox in saves this season?

EDES: Not a chance, given the likelihood he will miss at least half the season (I predict he’ll be back in August). If he does lead the team in saves, the Red Sox will be in serious trouble.

McDONALD: No. I predict Bard will take over the closer’s role sooner or later and will lead the team in saves this season. Bailey is too much of a wild card now that he’s on the shelf for an extended period of time.

10. Bigger contribution this season: Ryan Lavarnway or Jose Iglesias?

EDES: Jose Iglesias. He’ll be playing shortstop by midseason at the latest.

McDONALD: It didn’t take long for Bobby Valentine to realize how good Iglesias is defensively. Yes, Iglesias needs to become more consistent at the plate in order to be an everyday major league shortstop, but he will be in that role a lot sooner than later. The left side of the infield struggled defensively last season, allowing too many would-be ground ball outs to end up as base hits. Lavarnway needs almost a full season at Triple-A to continue to hone his skills and will make an impact at the big league level in the future. As for the present, Iglesias will have a bigger impact in 2012.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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