The Boston Red Sox open the 2011 season Friday afternoon in Texas with ace Jon Lester on the mound, new acquisitions Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup and expectations of a World Series trip on the minds of many fans.
While the team's off season acquisitions definitely made a statement, baseball analyst Glenn Stout, whose latest book "Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season and Fenway's Remarkable First Year" will be published in October, thinks injury comebacks are just as important, if not more than the team's new players.
"I think [the success of the lineup] depends probably less on what Crawford and Gonzalez do and more on what some other people around them do," Stout said in an interview with Morning Edition Friday. "I mean, the Red Sox are depending on people like Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis to come back from injuries. They're counting on David Ortiz to remain productive or at least somewhat productive this year.
"If that happens and you add Gonzalez and Crawford to those people, then you're really talking about something."
"You don't add people like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to finish second or third."Baseball analyst Glenn Stout
Those same themes hold true with the pitching rotation and bullpen. The success of the team's aces won't mean much if those players who had a rough 2010 season don't improve.
Overall, Stout feels management's bold off-season moves mean they're especially focused on winning and will go to great lengths to have a successful season.
"You don't add people like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to finish second or third," he said. "If some other pieces, you know, don't come together, they will go out and get those pieces."
As far as World Series predictions, the American League East is going to be a hard one to take.
"[The Red Sox] match up pretty good if everyone comes back and does what they're supposed to," Stout said. "The tough thing is that this is going to be a very tough division. Each team plays each other 18 times in that division and it is going to be really hard for a single team to get a whole lot of separation between themselves and the other two."
This program aired on April 1, 2011.