10. Tim Wakefield will maintain his health for the season, and will reach the Red Sox win record by the end of 2011. Is there a better guy in the organization than Wake? You all know my thoughts on the matter, so I'll spare you, but I think we can all agree that he deserves some major recognition for his contributions to the Red Sox over the years. Another franchise record would be wonderful.
9. Josh Beckett signs an extension that makes sense for both sides. Becks is thirty this year, so I don't see anything longer than four years and an option... but a motivated Josh Beckett is definitely something to look forward to, and if he spends the year gearing up for a payday, ultimately costing a few million extra dollars of John Henry's dough? So be it. Imagine a rotation of Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Matsuzaka, and Buchholz, with Wake for spot starts and extra rest. Wow.
8. The offense performs above expectations. Here's one that's a bit of a stretch. We've all been spoiled with years of Manny and Papi: that kind of firepower doesn't come along every day, and it would be selfish to expect to keep it forever. That said, the lineup does look a bit thin, and I have to believe the front office is hard at work to correct it.
7. Someone on the team wins a Gold Glove. Okay, I know the Gold Gloves are meaningless at best, and comical at worst (look no further than Derek Jeter's FOUR GGs for evidence of that), but I would like to see some recognition for what looks to be the best defensive team Boston has seen in years. If Youkilis stays at one position, I could see him being the team front runner: moving back and forth between first and third base (and left field!) have certainly hurt him in this area.
6. Marco Scutaro breaks the Curse of Nomahhh. You guys know this story: since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra in 2004, Boston has had a veritable parade of shortstops. We've seen the good (Alex Gonzales, Orlando Cabrera), the forgettable (Gil Velasquez, Alejandro Machado), and the downright disastrous (Edgar Rentaria, Julio Lugo). Here's hoping that Scutaro can hold down the fort until Jose Iglesias is ready to step in.
5. Jason Varitek imparts his wisdom (and A*Rod ass-kicking mojo) to VMart. From what I can gather, the Red Sox Captain continues to display his class by acknowledging his reduced role for next year. That's got to hurt the man's pride: taking a backseat to the new guy in town can't be easy, especially to a guy who, not so long ago, was the cream of the crop, catcher-wise. Variek has given his heart and soul to this team - his dedication (on the current roster) is rivaled only by the aforementioned Tim Wakefield. I wish nothing but happiness for Tek this year.
4. On a related note, I wish for an extension for Victor Martinez. Apparently that Luis Exposito kid is pretty damn good, but he's only 21, and though he had some success in AA Portland last season, catchers generally take a long time to develop. In the meantime, I'm a fan of seeing VMart behind the dish for the near future, especially with Varitek there to mentor him.
3. A good year of development for Theo's boys. It's common knowledge that Theo holds his prospects in the very highest esteem; some of you would even say he values them a bit too highly. However, it can only bode well for the big club if some of the kids have good seasons. Even if those at the lower levels can't help in Boston yet, good seasons improve their value as trade chips, and some of them will undoubtedly make guest appearances at Fenway before the year is done. I for one will be keeping an eye on Josh Reddick, Iglesias, Lars Anderson, Exposito, and Junichi Tazawa, among others.
2. A monster year for Dustin Pedroia. It's no secret around here that Pedey is my very favorite player. Last year was by no means a bad year, but I'm confident he'd be the first to tell you that it was a fluke and he can do better. I'm sure that a combination of pitchers taking the 2008 MVP seriously (finally) and midseason stress over his wife and unborn son affected his game - not that he'd ever admit as much. However, Kelli and Dylan are just fine, and Pedey has undoubtedly dedicated himself to improving every possible facet of his game over the offseason.
1. A World Series title for the Boston Red Sox. Seeing the celebrations in the Bronx (I tried to avoid them, but it was impossible to miss all of it) made me feel physically ill. Let's turn some of that around, shall we?
Less of the former, more of the latter.
One last thing: I'd like to thank those of you who read and comment on the blog. I started it about a year ago as a place for me to vent about baseball, and never really thought I'd have any sort of audience. I'm honored that you spend any fraction of your internet time reading something I've written, and I hope to exceed your expectations in the coming year. Feedback is always appreciated, and I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.