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Monday, March 26, 2012
Over/under: Wins for Red Sox

By David Schoenfield

The 2011 Boston Red Sox didn't have any issues scoring runs -- 875, most in the majors.

And that was with Carl Crawford having a bad season, Kevin Youkilis missing 42 games and J.D. Drew doing next to nothing.

That means, of course, the pitching was mediocre: the Red Sox allowed 737 runs, ninth in the American League. Heading into 2012, there remain issues about the rotation once you get past Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz (who has to remain healthy). The final two spots will be some combination of Daniel Bard, Aaron Cook, Alfredo Aceves, Felix Doubront and maybe Daisuke Matsuzaka later in the season.

That rotation doesn't seem appealing? Consider this, however: John Lackey and Tim Wakefield made 51 starts, pitched 297.1 innings and allowed 221 runs -- 6.7 runs per nine innings. Among 145 pitchers who threw at least 100 innings, Lackey had the worst ERA (6.41) and Wakefield ranked 134th (5.12). And Wakefield allowed 22 unearned runs, which lowered his ERA far below his runs allowed per nine innings.

So while the back of the rotation may not seem exciting, it almost assuredly will be an improvement over 2011. Anybody will be better than Lackey.

As for the offense, even with some regression from Jacoby Ellsbury, it should again score plenty of runs, especially if Crawford improves his .255/.284/.405 line. Right field will be a mix of Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney and Mike Aviles will likely get most of the time at shortstop.

The line is 88 wins. I'm taking the over and projecting the Red Sox to make the playoffs.