Mailbag: What could trip the Red Sox?

2/28/2011 - Boston Red Sox

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional mailbag series on the Red Sox. Click here to ask Curt a question for his next mailbag.

Q: What's the biggest concern for the Red Sox heading into the season? -- Tim (Hartford, Conn.)

A: Only one, in my opinion: health. If they somehow manage to have that all year, it's going to be very tough for anyone to challenge them.

Q: Do you think Jed Lowrie will end up being the starting SS this season? -- Barry (New Haven, Conn.)

A: I think that competition is more wide-open than people think. I also believe their best situation has him playing "around" the infield a few times a week rather than being the everyday guy at SS.

Q: Over/under 95 wins for the Red Sox this season? -- JT (Boston)

A: Over.

Q: Which player do you think will have a bigger impact this season -- Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford? -- Kelly (N.H.)

A: They'll have a huge impact in very different ways that will complement each other. Gonzo will be driving Crawford in, so they both should see nice bumps in RBIs and runs, respectively, but dumb pitchers will make Gonzo's year even better by worrying more about Crawford getting a stolen base than Gonzo hitting the red seat in right field, thereby serving him up way more fastballs than he's seen in a few years.

Q: Between [Josh] Beckett and [John] Lackey, which do you think is most likely to bounce back and be a top of the rotation guy? -- JK (Cape Cod)

A: I think both, if healthy, will earn their paychecks this year. John is more of a contact guy, so he'll be more reliant on stats and factors outside his control than Josh. I would bet that one of them will win 20 games.

Q: Do you think it's just a given that Youk will be able to move to 3B without any issues? I know he was solid there, but 1B is obviously easier to play. I worry a little that it could impact his offense? -- Joe (Dartmouth)

A: First base is not easier to play, it just seems like it. Kevin Youkilis will be fine, and watch, he'll contend for a Gold Glove over there, too. Nothing impacts Youk's offense except his health; that's why he's so valuable. He grinds out every single at-bat, which few players have the ability, or mindset, to do.

Q: Do you think [Jarrod] Saltalamacchia will legitimately be able to take over as the No. 1 catcher or do you think the Sox will have to trade for one? -- Jimmy (South Hadley, Mass.)

A: He could. I don't know him well enough to know if he will. I will say this: With Jason Varitek and bullpen coach Gary Tuck mentoring him, if he doesn't do it here, he never will.

Q: As good as they were last year, I feel like [Jon] Lester and [Clay] Buchholz can be even better. What do you think? -- Nathan (Vermont)

A: Sure they can. I still think Jon's upside is matched by only about 2-3 guys in the game.

Q: Do you think the Mariano Rivera talk will have any kind of an impact on [Jonathan] Papelbon? Do you see him bouncing back and having a better season? -- Frank (Framingham, Mass.)

A: It could, and knowing him I wouldn't bet against it, but I don't think it will as long as he gets off to a good start. If he doesn't, the media will make it affect him in some way.

Curt Schilling, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2004 to 2008, is a three-time World Series champion, six-time MLB All-Star and founder of 38 Studios. He and his wife, Shonda, have raised money to fight ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) through Curt's Pitch for ALS and have encouraged awareness for sun protection through the SHADE Foundation. They recently announced their support for the Asperger's Association of New England after their third child was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.