And rightfully so. They are also getting back Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia from injury, yet they were still second in the American League in runs. If an offense with Daniel Nava can do that, this one certainly can.
But even with that going right in 2010, the Red Sox were left on the outside looking in. This was for one reason; pitching. While Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz were Cy Young finalists, the disappointing seasons from Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka overshadowed it.
And while this was a major problem, even worse was the bullpen. Even star closer Jonathan Papelbon had an ERA over .400. Behind him were the struggles of Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez. Well now two thirds of that problem is gone, and they have been replaced by Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler, two much better options.
But those better options also have their risks. Jenks is coming off the worst season of his career, albeit a lot of BABIP was to blame. Dan Wheeler has had a good few years, but we have all seen him at his worst as well. While they look like better options on paper, do not be shocked if this is still a problem.
What really worries me is the rotation. I think we can all assume Jon Lester will be, well, Jon Lester. What after that? Buchholz no doubt had a great season. But could that just set us up for disappointment? I don't believe that, but don't be shocked.
I have also gave up on Matsuzaka, and rightfully so. With John Farrell out and Curt Young in, he could improve. But I don't think he is the pitcher we thought. Beckett is also a huge concern. We have no evidence he will ever bounce back. His numbers have all gone down hill since 2007. How can we be sure he will ever recreate that?
As for Lackey, I have more confidence. That was easily Lackey's worst season. Could it be from the AL East? Probably. And I doubt he will ever be the pitcher he was in the west. But he is not as bad as he pitched last year, and that will be proven this season.