1. The return of Big Papi
-Last season was simply not the same for the Red Sox. Besides the fact the Sox did not make it to the Fall Classic, the beloved Big Papi missed a significant amount of time because of a wrist injury. The Red Sox lineup was never fully in sync last season, especially after the Sox traded Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. If Ortiz is healthy and productive in 2009, the Sox could have a lineup as good as anyone in baseball, but make no mistake about it, Ortiz is THE key cog in that lineup.
2. Jason Bay
-Enjoy him while you can, Red Sox fans. Bay is a free agent after this season and all indications are that Bay is looking for a huge contract. It remains to be seen if the Red Sox will be a major player for Bay, but it would be smart for the Sox to lock up the 30 year old Bay to a 3-4 year extension. The two sides have already broken off negotiations, so this drama will probably be on hold until the end of the season. Until then, enjoy Bay and the vast talents he brings to the Sox.
-Did anybody really think this guy was going to be this good? I certainly didn't. Youkilis has developed into one of the best first basemen in baseball, both offensively and defensively. Youkilis is still an OBP and doubles machine, but his OPS is what set Youkilis apart in 2008. Youk raised his OPS more than 100 points to .958, which was good for fourth in the American League. Can Youkilis continue to improve in 2009 or has he reached his ceiling?
4. Tim Wakefield
-For more than a decade, Red Sox fans have been spoiled by being able to watch one of the best knuckleball pitchers of all time. Tim Wakefield has become a stalwart in the Red Sox rotation over the years. However, with several young guns rising through the Red Sox farm system (Bowden, Buchholz, Masterson, etc.), this might be Wakefield's last season with the Red Sox. At 42 years old, Wakefield is obviously a living legend in Red Sox Nation, so enjoy the knuckleball while you can, and pray to the baseball Gods that George Kottaras can catch the knuckler.
5. Red Sox Nation
Yup, this just about explains it. Poor Denis Leary.
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