To get Washington fans ready for the coming baseball season, all spring (err...and Winter) I will be interviewing a blogger from each team in the league. To continue our journey I talked with Randy from Over The Monster, one of the top Red Sox on the net. The Red Sox are always re-arming for next season, and are perpetually one of the most interesting teams in the league. Let's see what Randy had to say.
The Nats Blog: Clay Bucholz has been considered the arm of the future for the past several years now, will this be the season he finally puts it together?
Over The Monster: I think we saw Buchholz put it together at the end of last year. He seemed to finally become the pitcher the Red Sox have been waiting for in the last stretch of the season. Obviously he's going to improve with time, but it seems to me he made that "Jon Lester turn." I don't think we need to worry about if he's got the makeup or the stuff or anything like that -- now it's just a matter of how good he'll actually be.
TNB: With the slow decline of David Ortiz, and the loss of Jason Bay, will the Red Sox have enough offense to top the Rays and Yankees in 2010?
OTM: The Red Sox's offense won't be as good as it has been the last few years, but the good thing is that they don't need it to be. With the improved defense and starting pitching, the Red Sox offense will need to do less work to gut out victories. There shouldn't be too many 11-10 games in Boston this year. They should be more like 2-1, 3-2. With the defense improving so greatly and the rotation adding an ace in John Lackey, the offense doesn't need to be as strong as in the past few years. With that said, General Manager Theo Epstein has said if the team needed a bat at the deadline, he'd go out and grab it.
TNB: What will the Red Sox do with Mike Lowell after a voided trade and a thumb injury? Where will he fit in? If at all.
OTM: The man to watch come Spring Training is Mike Lowell. If he comes out healthy, swings the bat well and at least shows some mobility at first base or third base, Lowell could definitely be traded before the start of the season. I'd be surprised if Lowell is with the Red Sox on Opening Day; the bridge has been burned. If he is on the team, he'll work as a backup at third base (rarely), see some time at first (rarely) and perhaps platoon with David Ortiz at designated hitter (the most likely scenario).
TNB: What additions do you wish the Red Sox would have made this offseason?
OTM: I would have liked a bigger bullpen arm. The Red Sox lost Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner and really weren't able to fill that void -- at least from as far as we can tell. Wagner had a short time with the Sox, but was really good. Saito put together an impressive (and a tad deceiving) 2009, but now the Sox will have to turn elsewhere for their roles. The good thing is Daniel Bard will be a better bullpen pitcher this season, filling some of that void.
TNB: 2004 was a special time for my family, much of which is from Massachusetts. In your opinion, how has the culture of baseball in New England changed since the sox "broke the curse?"
OTM: The culture has changed because the Red Sox are no longer the "underdogs" in the eyes of the world. They are no longer the lovable losers. Not only are the winners, but they're spending money, too -- which doesn't help their cause to be in the real Nation's good graces because they are compared to the Yankees. Before 2004, the Red Sox were the "anti-Yankees." Now they are "like the Yankees."
TNB: What is your all time favorite Red Sox memory?
OTM: It's cliche, but how can I not choose the Red Sox winning the Series in 2004? It was just an amazing moment as it all came together. Of course, the 2004 ALCS was a better series than the World Series, and perhaps the greatest sports series of all time, but I just lump them both together. As far as my favorite personal memory, I saw Pedro pitch on his birthday in 2000 against the White Sox. He struck out 15 in a complete game and the Red Sox won 1-0. It was one of the greatest pitchers of all-time pitching in one of the greatest seasons of all-time. I can't wait to tell that story to my kids.