Boston Red Sox

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 30: The Green Monster is seen during a media availability at Fenway Park ahead of Opening Day on March 30, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Three years ago, I wondered if Boston still cared about the fate of the Red Sox.

Seven months later, that team won the 2018 World Series and threw another parade.

I was happy to eat crow. To answer my question: yes, a 108-win squad could turn heads even with the Patriots on their way to another Super Bowl and the Bruins and Celtics among the more competitive teams in their respective leagues.

But then the wheels came off. Within 16 months after hoisting the trophy – for different reasons – the GM, manager, and the best player on the team were all gone.

The Red Sox have faced an identity crisis for the past decade. They’ve won the World Series twice, or, 200 percent more times than they did the first two-plus decades of my life. But they’ve also finished in last place four times, including last year.

They maintain a top ten payroll, but make moves like a small market team. The guys left over from the duck boats are floating somewhere off of Georges Bank, sending out an S.O.S.

For the first time ever, Opening Day snuck up on me. I’ve got a three-month old at home, it feels like we’re all waiting on a vaccine, and suddenly, here we are.

Maybe we don’t care as much as we used to.

But just in case they pull us back in, here are nine guys I’ll be keeping an eye on:

Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk baseball with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.