Pretty optimistic outlook there space. Let me give you my perpective on your observations:
Offensively, Youk makes this line-up tick. His injuries downgraded the offense from Juggernaut to Pretty Darn Good last year. With him healthy back in the middle of the line-up, scaaaaaaary stuff.
Agree that Youk should have a much better year offensively, but he is 33 and a step slower and he is still somewhat a liability at 3rd. Offensive wasn't the problem last year.
It would have been nice to have Youk DH most games this year, and have Iggy at SS and Aviles/Punto/Middlebrooks at 3B, but that was not to be.
I'm hoping Youk's fielding improves with health. I think his hitting will be close to his 2009 season as his curve inches downwards in a more uniform manner.
Gonzo is fully recovered from shoulder surgery. Expect more power to go with his hitting mastery.
Yes, we should see much more power from Agon, but more HRs usually equates to a lower BA. I don't believe there is any way he hits anywhere near .340.
I agree, but my hope is he approaches 130-140 RBIs.
Salty came into his own by midsummer, then crashed due to the unexperienced grind of a full season of duty. I expect him to build on 2011 both offensively and defensively.
Salty started only 60% of the games last year; I would hardly call that a grind. And he is a terrible defensive catcher (way too many PBs and CWPs). I would really like to see Lavarway behind the plate.
I agree 100%. Salty is old enough and experienced enough to be able to catch 75% of the games, but couldn't manage even 60%. While he is now thae age VTek was when he became a FT catcher, I have lost confidence in his skillset. I'd love to see Lava and Iggy as out FT C and SS. Trade Salty. Save the money and cash in on his over-hyped 2011 season.
Crawford, who knows, but logic says he HAS to be better than last year, I think.
IMO, Crawford is the key to the 2012 season. I agree that he played well below his ability and I think he was just out of his comfort zone. Hopefully, he is the pleyer we know he can be.
If he can just play to his career norms, it would be a huge gain, but he could even approach his 2008-2010 numbers and that would give us a huge boost.
Ross/Sweeney - way better than out-to-pasture Drew and still-not-ready-for-prime-time Reddick.
Defensively we don't get any better here, but I think offensively, we should see a big improvement, but the power is only going to come from Ross, so we'll see.
No, we don't get better defensively here, but remember, Drew played hurt if at all last year, Reddick is a good fielder but had many lapses last year, and DMac was, well, DMac out there in 2011, so I do not think the drop off is as big as it looks on paper (from 2011 play).
Buchholz - one of the biggest reasons last year fell apart. They were relying on him to do his thing. he got hurt. If he is healthy, gotta figure he is going to be a hoss.
This one has got me worried. Back problems tend to be chronic, and if Buch has the slightest discomfort, he will not be effective. I look for him to be on and off the DL.
It worries me too, as does Bailey and his injury history.
Matsuzaka - When he comes back, contract year playing for a Japanese manager. i expect big things
Totally agree here. Always thought this guy was special but the friction between what he wanted to do and what management wanted from him created a less than effective pitcher. BV should help tremendously here.
Not sure if Bobby V will make that much of a difference, but I do think Dice-K will have a nice half season as he looks to cash in next year.
Losing Papelbon and Bard at the back end. But, getting Melancon and Bailey is hardly a drop-off, and could turn out to be even better when all is said and done.
Never like Pap, thought he was an arrogant, pompous guy. But he could get the job done when he decided to dial it up. We really don't know what we are getting here. Bailey seems to have the numbers, but like CC, he is now pitching with the big boys.
My hope is Bard remains in the pen as a couple projects shine brightly this spring, but it looks like it's all but a done deal. If we could keep Bard and Aceves in the pen, I think we'd be about equal to last year's pen. Without Bard, we will be worse.
Losing Scutaro. He is a leader by example. Hard to replace a pro's pro. But Aviles is probably equal offensively, and, if Iggy makes it up, huge D upgrade.
Scutaro is not a good defensive SS but his offense was good enough to keep him there. Frankly, the offensive is not the problem, it's the defense and I think Iglesias should be handed the Keys....the hitting will come.
I think Scotty might have been in the bottom 3 defensive SSs last year due mainly to his lack of range. His .299 BA and timely hitting will be missed, but it was unlikely he'd have repeated his 2011 offense again this year anyways (at age 36). Aviles is not a great fielding SS, but he's better than Scoot. Punto: the same. Iggy is way better, but lacks offense. Together, I see an improvement over Scoot overall, but it's close.
More or less stays the same:
Agree except for Ells, he will not have the power numbers this year because if pitchers are smart, he won't see a lot of pitches middle-in. If that happens, hopefully he adjusts and hits more balls the other way. His average will be over .300, and the OBP should improve, but the HRs and RBIs will be down.
Bringing his OBP to near .400 is worth losing 10 HRs or more.
Fun question marks:
Bard - Who knows? Could be a disaster, could be a seriously good fourth starter
Just don't see it. Going from 67 inning to 200 innings is not as much a problem as stamina and leg strength. He will have to brought along gradually, or his carreer could be over.
He's not going to 200 IP. Even Lester and Beckett didn't get there last year. I see him getting 140-160, and he may even go back to the pen to lessen the load.
Back end of rotation as a whole - sure, who knows how 4 and 5 will shake out. But at best, Bard and matsuzaka (when he returns) could be darn good. At worst, hey, its gotta be better than Lackey and (fill in the 2011 blank).
This is the crux of the problem and I think we are heading to 2012 with too many questions marks here. We are not going to get Dice back until June at the earliest. Aceves would be the better choice to start since he has done it, albeit without a lot of success, so he should be #5. which means we still need a 4th guy so out of Padilla, Cook, Silva, or Maine, well.................
Yes, but compare these guys to Weiland, Miller, lackey and others. It's hard to imagine anything worse.
So, on the whole, I can foresee many upgrades from 2011 and not many dropoffs. In my thinking, the ledger is tilted towards better, even with the guys that were on the club last year.
Offensively, we are slightly better. Defense and pitching (which wins games) is slightly worse, IMO.
I see defense as better:
Ross/Sweeney < Drew/Redd/DMac
Aviles/Iggy > Scoot
Punto >>> Lowrie
Shopp > Vtek
'12 Youk > "11 Youk
'12 CC > '11 CC
If we can get a solid 4th starter either by signing, trade or a project works out like Colon & garcia did for the Yanks last year, I think our pitching will be better.