Monday, February 13, 2006

Red Sox questions that matter

There's a lot of debate going on about where the Sox stand, now that the pitchers and catchers are reporting for duty down in Florida. But a lot of writers are wasting time on things that don't matter.

Will Crisp be better than Damon? Will Manny and Ortiz' offensive output stay as high as it was last year? Will Wells be traded before the season starts? Will Loretta/Lowell be better this year and/or stop their aging slide? Will Nixon stay healthy? Will Varitek be able to withstand the season's rigors (especially after playing in the WBC)? Who will be the backup catcher? Is this the best defensive infield they've had in years? Who will fill the fifth spot in the rotation? What about Clement? Or my favorite, how do the Yankees fielders match up with the Red Sox?

These are all questions that can be asked of the Red Sox after their tumultuous off season, but none of them matter. You want to know if the Sox will make it into the playoffs, and once there, will they truly contend? Well, you only need to one thing about three people. Will Foulke, Schilling, and Beckett be healthy or not? If any of the three are not capable of playing up to their potential due to health concerns, none of the rest matters.

The only safety net to these concerns is Papelbon may develop into a closer if Foulke struggles. But that's putting a lot onto someone who hasn't closed since college.

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