As the Sox head into the second "half" of the season, they are in pretty good shape. They've won rather consistently all year, are in first place, have Papi almost ready for a return, and have shown strong pitching, hitting, and fielding. That said, I'm a Red Sox fan, so, here are my concerns:
- Papi's Health: I feel like he'll come back this year. But I'm starting to worry that he's Mo Vaughn all over: a great power hitter who just starts falling a part as he gets older. I hope I'm wrong.
- Bullpen: This seems to be the #1 concern for the fans. I'll go on the record here that I think they should stand pat come the trading deadline. Pap is a money closer (remind me to rant later about the Newsday cover). Mini Manny, Oki, Timlin, Hansen, Masterson, Lopez, and Aardsma are frankly as good as you are going to get on the market. No Larry Anderson, Gagne or Brian Fuentes is worth giving up a good prospect for. They are not great, but I truly believe we can't do better right now and there are not many teams that have it better. As I've said before, the real key is getting more innings from the starters.
- Starters: Dice-K needs to walk fewer guys because that will catch up to you 99 percent of the time. He's tough to hit, but he'll lose close games if he keeps giving away first. Beckett will be great in the second half. Wake... yeah. Lester seems to keep getting better and better. I think he was really our ace in the first half and I have no reason to doubt that he'll be very solid in the second. Buchholz/Colon is about as good as anybody's fifth starter and can be great at times. Clay really is going to be nasty, eventually.
- Shortstop: I'm mostly happy to see Lugo go down. I like Lowrie and Cora out there for offense (Lowrie) and defense (Cora, especially as a late inning defensive replacement which will give us the world's best infield). My question is what do they do when Lugo gets back if this platoon works. Aren't they paying Lugo the GDP of Iceland to play this year?
- 'Tek: That painfully ugly swing from the left side has finally completely fallen apart. It was always too long for my tastes and it is too off balance for someone who could have driven the ball much better if he were balanced. 'Tek will continue to be the defensive and game-calling rock. I hope he just cuts down on that insult to Louisville and puts the ball in play going forward.