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My 2006 Boston Red Sox

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Hey, look! It's almost Christmas and Johnny Damon still doesn't have a team. Could anyone have guessed that at the end of September? With Scott Boras as his agent, it was inevitable and of course an easy prediction.

While Damon and his Super-Agent Boras are sitting on the couch, waiting for their seven-year, $84 million dollar contract, the Red Sox are also sitting because, at this point, nothing else can be done to any extent.

So I'm taking my matters in my own hands and saying `goodbye' to Mr. Damon. Here is how I want the starting lineup for the 2006 Boston Red Sox to look:

CF Coco Crisp
2B Mark Loretta
DH David Ortiz
LF Manny Ramirez
C Jason Varitek
3B Mike Lowell
RF Trot Nixon
1B Kevin Youkilis
SS Alex Gonzalez

How did I get this lineup?
Forget Damon. I didn't resign him. Instead, Matt Clement was traded to Cleveland for Crisp. I chipped in a few million for Clement's contract, also. Crisp will play center, despite being more apt in leftfield.

Ramirez will stay. Now, I don't want him to stay if he's unhappy, but the scenarios are up the ying-yang and they'd be tough to play out on paper. So for the sake of simplicity and the fact that it's my choice, I'm going to keep him. Let's just pretend Ortiz convinced him that Boston was the best place for him.

Youkilis gets the nod at first base. He is great defensively at third base, so you just have to assume he can do an even better job at first base. I really want to see what he can do with 500 or more plate appearances, like many members of Red Sox Nation.

I signed Gonzalez to play shortstop because, frankly, he's the best option out there. Miguel Tejada? That is a long shot. If it happens though, I won't complain. The final three were between Gonzalez, Alex Cora and Pokey Reese. I'd rather see Cora in a situation coming off the bench.

IF Alex Cora
C Kelly Shoppach
1B Roberto Petagine
OF Adam Stern

How did I get this bench?
Cora is a lock for the bench, but the other three really aren't. I'd like to have Petagine's bat on the bench to back up Youkilis and occasionally start. The catcher's job is questionable, but we can't strand Shoppach down in AAA for the rest of his life. Let's give him some time and see what he can do. Stern is a speedster who struggled at the plate last year, but could improve with the occasional playing time. He'll be the man off the bench to pinch-run, also.

RHP Curt Schilling
RHP Josh Beckett
RHP Tim Wakefield
RHP Jonathan Papelbon
RHP Bronson Arroyo

How did I get this rotation?
Schilling and Beckett are locks for the number one and two spots. I put Wakefield in the three spot because of his great 2005 and, of course, the knuckleball. Papelbon is in the starting rotation because that's where I think he will be most effective. If he is sitting in the bullpen, then that is a waste of a great arm. Arroyo finishes up because Clement is gone, and David Wells is traded.

CL Keith Foulke
SU Mike Timlin
MRP Guillermo Mota
MRP Chad Bradford
MRP James Vermilyea
MRP Rudy Seanez
LRP Lenny DiNardo

How did I get this bullpen?
Foulke, Timlin, Mota, Bradford, Vermilyea are locks for the bullpen. The first four because they will be our go-to guys, and Vermilyea because he is our most recent Rule-V draft pick and he needs to be on the roster for the whole season for us to keep him. Seanez is seemingly onboard, so he'll get atleast a shot at the beginning of the season. If he does badly, however, Manny Delcarmen will be ready to pop up and take over. DiNardo is a lock on my roster because he's a big league pitcher that needs a chance to pitch. Not to mention he's a lefty ... the only lefty.