If... This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   If. That is the most commonly used word in the vocabulary of any Red Sox fan. If Roger Clemens' shoulder holds up, if all the free agents pan out, if Rob Murphy comes back from a disappointing season, if the Sox avoid the injury bug. If. If. If. It seems as if the fate of the Sox depends on a conjunction.

The always talented Sox seem to be haunted by an assortment of injuries (Ellis Burks in A89), subpar performances (Rob Murphy), and players with attitude problems ("Oil Can" Boyd in A89). Though there were elements of these problems, the main reason they won the A.L. Eastern Division in 1990 is because, for the most part, they dodged these problems. Tom Brunansky, Mike Greenwell and Tony Pena suffered through nagging injuries that brought down their production, but were still healthy enough to stay in the lineup every day. They also seemed to have team harmony despite a slight difference of opinion between Greenwell and Pena at the end of the season. But their bullpen is going to have to rebound from a horrendous season filled with blown saves and horrible outings from middle relievers.

Strangely enough, with the departure of Mike Boddicker, the front office put the most concentrated effort in signing free-agent starting pitchers. The arrival of wild southpaw Matt Young, who Wade Boggs claimed had the "best stuff I've ever seen," and wily right-hander Danny Darwin, have shored up the rotation. While the bullpen was horrendous and the starting pitchers were the best in the league, no moves were made to strengthen the bullpen. Apparently Boston thought that the status quo would be sufficient.

Also in the off-season, the Sox beefed up their everyday lineup by adding DH/1B Jack Clark and young hitting prospects Mo Vaughn, Tim Naehring, and Phil Plantier. Clark, a proven slugger, is already guaranteed a spot in the lineup while the others will have to battle for one. Joe Morgan has announced that Carlos Quintana and Luis Rivera are his starters as of the beginning of spring training. There is only one other major change: Dwight Evans was released and picked up by the Orioles at the end of the season. The rest of the lineup is basically the same.

The Red Sox have a talented team and could win the A.L. East if.... n

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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