BOSTON (CBS) – With Opening Day upon us, SB Nation baseball editor Rob Neyer joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The DA Show Wednesday night to talk about the Red Sox and the upcoming season.

After their September collapse last season, it will be a whole new season for the Red Sox with a new manager and general manager. How will they stack up with the rest of the American League East though?

“I think they’re dead even with the Rays in the 90-win range with the Yankees 4-5 games better,” said Neyer. “Every year, especially people like me, like to predict this is the year the Yankees get old and their luck is going to run out. Well, it’s happened once in the last I don’t know how many years. So you just have to assume it’s the Yankees division to lose especially after last season. I think their starting pitching is going to be better this year, and their lineup is roughly the same, so I  don’t see why they wouldn’t win 95 games.”

Read: 10 Reasons The Red Sox Can Win It All In 2012

“It’s a good club, no question,” he said of the Sox. “I don’t think you can say a player is the key; very few players hold the teams fate in their hands. But the one guy I am looking at is Clay Buchholz. They have to have a good number-three starter to get to the playoffs, and I think Buchholz is the best candidate to be the guy but he’s had various health issues over the years.”

Closer Andrew Bailey is out until at least the All-Star break, so manager Bobby Valentine named Alfredo Aceves the closer for now. Was that the right move?

“I think it’s fine. I don’t know if it’s the best option, but I don’t know if there is enough separating Aceves and the other guys to really squawk about it,” said Neyer. “I think Bard would probably be your best option, if he was pitching in the bullpen… none of the options were attractive, so they took the least-unattractive.”

Read: 2012 Season Predictions

Daniel Bard isn’t in the bullpen anymore because he is trying his hand as the team’s number-four starter. How will Bard do with the move from reliever to starter?

“I think you have to see if he can do it. As long as he doesn’t get hurt, you really don’t lose much if he can’t do it,” Neyer said. “Even if he’s not good in the rotation, he’s probably not any worse than whoevers place he got… he’s more valuable there pitching 180-200 innings than 70 innings.”

Also, how should Red Sox fans feel about Valentine making weekly radio appearances in New York? And how will Joey Votto’s monster extension with the Reds affect big market teams like the Sox and Yankees?


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