Finally..... The Official 2012 Boston Red Sox Thread has come to ThePhins.com. After months of consist begging from our favorite non Sox fan, FinYank13, the day is here (even a day early). Pitchers and catchers officially report tomorrow so let’s take a look at the current 2012 roster. Here are the pitching spot locks: Rotation: Jon Lester - RHP Josh Beckett - RHP Clay Buchholz - RHP Bullpen: Andrew Bailey - RHP Mark Melancon -RHP Franklin Morales – LHP Also locks but roles are undetermined as they can either be SP or RP: Daniel Bard – RHP Alfredo Aceves – RHP Players competing for a spot in the rotation/bullpen: Matt Albers – RHP* Michael Bowden – RHP* Felix Doubront – LHP* Andrew Miller – LHP* Junichi Tazawa – RHP Scott Atchison – RHP Jesse Carlson – LHP Aaron Cook – RHP Vicente Padilla – RHP Ross Ohlendorf – RHP Carlos Silva – RHP * are pitchers out of options so if they don’t make the MLB team out of ST they have to go through waivers before they can be sent back to the minors Pitchers that are injuried to start the year but expected back at some point (probably June or July the earliest if at all): Rich Hill – LHP Daisuke Matsuzaka – RHP Bobby Jenks – RHP John Lackey – RHP (out for the year) So there are 8 locks and 4 spots opened. If I were to guess (obviously things will change between now and April) but I’d say the remaining 4 spots will go to Doubront, Albers, Miller and Padilla with roles to be determined as to whether they start or are in the pen, except for Albers who’s in the pen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see RHP Alex Wilson up at some point this year as he’s pretty much the only Sox pitching prospect close enough to the big leagues. He’s been a starter in the minors but most experts figure he’ll be a RP. The offense side of things is pretty locked up with: Jarrod Saltalamacchia – C Kelly Shoppach – C Adrian Gonzalez – 1B Dustin Pedroia – 2B Kevin Youkilis – 3B Mike Aviles – INF Nick Punto – INF Carl Crawford – LF Jacoby Ellsbury – CF Ryan Sweeney – OF Cody Ross – OF Darnell McDonald – OF David Ortiz – DH Players that will start the year in the minors that can come up to help the MLB club if need be: Ryan Lavarnway – C Ryan Kalish – OF Will Middlebrooks – 3B Jose Iglesias – SS Juan Carlos Linares – OF (sleeper) Overall, I think right now the Sox have a good MLB club. I think there are question marks in the rotation but I still expect them to be a competitive ball club fighting for a playoff spot. A lot depends on health, luck and whether or not guys step up and play to their abilities. I’m pretty excited about seeing how the Bobby Valentine Era starts, although I will always love Terry Francona, I think it was time for a change. If I were a betting man, I’d say right now the Sox are a 3rd place team in the AL East but I don’t think the gap between them and Tampa Bay and New York is that far. I can easily see any combination of the Yankees, Rays and Sox rounding out the AL East and if the second wild card team is added I think you’ll see the 3 AL East teams in the playoffs. But of course they have to play the game on the field and not on paper, so I welcome any Red Sox fan and fans of any other team to come on in and discuss the Red Sox or whatever else is a popular topic of debate in this thread this year. I hope this is a good season and can’t wait for the real games to begin. Go Sox!