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Ladies and gentlemen, your 2007 Red Sox!

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Papi, Manny, Trot, Tek, Gonzo and Wily Mo are currently down. Schill will miss his next start due to a side strain meaning that for the next pitching rotation we will use one of the five pitchers we started the season with - Beckett. Wake and Clement are down and Boomer has been traded. Lester is, for obvious reasons, not available to fill in. Still, we're only 5.5 games back in the wild card race and have won two in a row, so I suppose we shouldn't give up completely. Our chances of playoff success do seem somehwat limited, though.

So I thought we might have some weekend fun to lighten the mood. As we all know, this team will be great - in 2008. 2007 should be a fun year too. What the team will look like seems up in the air and we will most definitely have a hectic offseason to look forward to. I figured we might get a head start, though, and start the speculation right now. How do you want the team to look? Which five starting pitchers, eight position players, set-up man and closer do you think the Sox should use in 2007? In short, how does your ideal 2007 sox team look like, and how would the FO make it happen? Let's skip the bench and non-closer/set-up relievers, since that's too much of a crapshoot. The DH spot seems kinda safe too.

Here's my entry:

SP Curt Schilling
SP Free Agent Pitcher (Please, Barry, come to Beantown!)
SP Josh Beckett
SP Tim Wakefield
SP Jon Lester (I really hope so, anyhow)

SU Manny Delcarmen
CP Jonathan Papelbon

C Jason Varitek
1B Kevin Youkilis
2B Mark Loretta
3B Mike Lowell
SS Dustin Pedroia
LF Manny Ramirez
CF Coco Crisp
RF Wily Mo Peña

First, the starting rotation. Matt Clement needs to go. I am sick off him being INeffectively wild. I really don't care at this point if we have to eat a solid chunk of his salary or what we get in return. Ever since the line drive to the head, he's been a pain to watch and I'm tired of it. To take his place, we need to sign a free agent. As I've made clear in numerous other places, i want Barry Zito. Badly. Just look at his career numbers and it should be clear why. As for Jon Lester, him returning to the rotation is obviously a best case scenario. Schill, Beckett and Wake seem like no-brainers to me.

Manny Delcarmen should be our set-up man because of how good he's been when he's on. He has looked dominant at times (and obviously like a little league pitcher at other times). I have more faith in him than I do in Hansen right now. As for Papelbon, I would love to promote him to the starting rotation. If we sign a quality free agent, though, there won't be any need for it next season. He can spend another year dominating the closer position, which is especially good considering we don't have any other reliable relief pitchers at our disposal. Should someone in the rotation go down, Paps will be available to fill in.

As for the position players, I have changed my mind from previous posts on a number of things. First, and it absolutely kills me to write this, I don't think we should re-sign Trot. I think Wily Mo is ready to take over. Since we can't use Trot as a utility outfielder because of his lack of speed, there simply is no room for him. I hate it, but I believe it's the truth. Coco stays, despite much criticism. He needs to have a shot at going through spring training and the first two months of next season before I come close to giving up on him. Should he have the type of numbers next June that he has right now, I will probably advocate for him being traded. As for now, though, he needs another shot and should get it. Now, to the Pedroia conundrum. I think Dusty's too good to be a utility infielder. He needs to get a chance at a starting spot. So, 2B or SS? I think Marky-Mark is an ideal two-hitter. He's very good at putting the ball in play and very rarely strikes out. He doesn't draw a lot of walks either, but he gets a lot of hits. Also, obviously, he's wicked good defensively. Gonzo, too, is an absolute superb defender. I say he's the best shortstop in the league - Yuniesky and his silly name be damned! He has a much lower OBP than Loretta but also a much higher SLG. Their OPS for this season is virtually identical. Gonzo is six years younger than Loretta, so we would presumably get more good years from him if we sign him. However, I think Gonzo will command quite a bit of cash in the offseason considering the solid offensive numbers he's put up (and his defense, primarily, of course). I think Marky-Mark will cost less. It's a very tough decision, but I believe we need to spend all the money we can on pitching next year. I think the fact that Loretta will likely be cheaper tips the scale in his favor. It's a very tough decision, though, and I might change my mind tomorrow.

That's my ideal team. Please leave a comment with your picks. Oh, and feel free to be a tad less comprehensive... this ended up taking a friggin hour to write. :)