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  Monday, December 22, 2014
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The Sleepers
By Paul Noonan

     You probably don’t remember where you were or what you were doing when the Red Sox signed David Ortiz.  After all, who was he?  He was just going to be a depth guy who maybe would produce here and there.  A couple years later he is breaking Red Sox records and has become an All- Star and fan favorite. 

     So far this winter, the buzz has been around the Red Sox’s signings of Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew, and Julio Lugo.  And that’s justifiable, given the prices and names.  However, it could be two under- the- radar signings who really determine the Red Sox success this season. 

             

     There is little doubt that the Sox’s main area of concern is the bullpen.  This past week the Sox added Brendan Donnelly and JC Romero to try and help that problem.  Donnelly, at age 35, will not be a long term solution, but he could be a good short term fix.  A key member of the Anaheim Angels’ 2002 championship squad, Donnelly is a reliable reliever.  He’s not dominant by any means, but he is efficient.  Given the Sox’s weakness in the ‘pen, Donnelly will be a good addition of ability and experience, which should help the Sox win some games. 

     He should be a good mentor for the young arms.  The one concern is that Donnelly’s ERA has gotten higher each of the last three seasons, but with a career ERA of 2.87, it is clear the potential is there. 

     JC Romero is more of a question mark.  The former Twin and Angel has shown potential, but it has yet to yield major results.  In 2002, Romero had a career season in Minnesota with nine wins, 76 strikeouts and a 1.89 ERA, but his second highest totals are 7, 69 and 3.47, showing he has some consistency problems.  Nevertheless, Romero has the potential to be a pleasant surprise.  First off, he is a lefty, something the Red Sox need since parting with Mike Myers.  Secondly, at 30, Romero should be in his prime. Hopefully, he has learned some tricks by now that will result in consistent success this season.

             

     While these two additions will help, they still won’t fill that closer role, the last missing piece for the Sox.  However, middle relief was the bigger problem last year, and these two guys should help in that area.  Both have been around a while, and both have seen the postseason on a couple of occasions.  The key will be consistency.  If Donnelly and Romero struggle to find a rhythm throughout the year, the Sox will have the same problems as last season and tax their starters again.  But if Romero and Donnelly can find the strong forms they have shown at times in the past, their additions could prove to be even bigger than the names that have dominated the headlines.  And it would come at a much cheaper cost.

     Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays



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