The Red Sox are either a prohibitive favorite, or heavy favorite to win the American League East, de9 dewde9pending on how David Price’s elbow holds up. Regardless, the acquisition of Chris Sale looks even better now. The Sox would appear to have some depth in their starting rotation, but that could dry up in a hurry.

Healthy guys, raise your arm, if you can

David Price is coming off a subpar year, at least by his standards. Combine that with elbow issues this spring this spring and you have a pitcher who can no longer be counted on as a top of the rotation starter. Chris Sale should fill that role, if the Sox can keep sharp instruments away from him.

Rick Porcello is coming off a Cy Young award winning season. He’s also coming off a Comeback Player of the Year award. That makes consistency an issue.

Knuckleballer, Steven Wright, went 13-6 last season and should be back for more of the same. Eduardo Rodriguez and Dew Pomeranz should round out the rotation. Pomeranz also has a history of injuries. The Sox rotation could be one of the best in baseball, or very mediocre, depending on the health of their starters. Expect then to be a bit above mediocre, but with a higher ceiling.

Craig Kimbrel still looks to be a good closer, but he had an ERA of 3.40, which is much higher than we’re used to seeing out of him. Some peripheral stats are still good, but a degree of caution wouldn’t be out of line.

Tyler Thornburg and Joe Kelly should see setup action. A combination involving Robbie Ross, Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree should round out the pen. It looks to be an above average group.

Wait and see

Sandy Leon swung a big stick as a catcher last year. His career throws some doubt on if it’s a good idea to expect that again.

Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihard provide depth.

After a wretched season in 2016, Pablo Sandoval is getting another chance to handle the hot corner for the Sox. Beyond Sandoval, the Sox infield is in great shape. Dustin Pedroia had a typical outstanding season in 2016 with a .318 average to go with 15 homeruns.

An OPS of .825 shows his value. The one worry is his age, 33. At shortstop, Xander Boegaerts has no such worries. He’s 24. Last year Xander added power to his game, hitting 21 homers to go with a .294 average. He’s one of a group of great young shortstops in baseball now.

Hanley Ramirez had a great year with the stick, hitting 30 homeruns and driving in 111. Plus, he wasn’t a disaster in the field. Still, the addition of Mitch Moreland should mean more time as DH for Ramirez. Moreland will be an upgrade with the glove at first and chips in with some power from the left side. Brock Holt provides a nice option for infield depth. This infield could be one of the best in the American League if Sandoval returns to form.

That’s his good baseball form and not his physical form.

That 70's Show revisited?

Remember the Red Sox outfield from the 70’s featuring, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans? Then you’re old. But in addition to that, you can appreciate what a really great Red Sox outfield looks like. Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts have the potential to be at least within shouting distance of that great 70’s outfield. Benintendi is considered by many to be the best prospect in baseball. Jackie Bradley Jr. plays a great centerfield and was an offensive threat, with a nice power and speed combination. He did tail off in the second half of 2016.

Right fielder, Mookie Betts has some of the same strengths as Jackie Bradley Jr., only in more generous helpings.

He’s a gold glover who hit 31 homers with a batting average of .318 with 113 RBIs. Throw in 26 stolen bases and you have something very special. The biggest lost is of course, David Ortiz. A hitter of his magnitude will be missed.

Looking good

Despite the loss of Ortiz, the question of David Price’s elbow and age creeping up on Dustin Pedroia, the Sox are the team to beat in the AL East.

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