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Red Sox Notes: Cherington Primed, Papelbon Pumped, Red Sox in Future & Bryce Brentz

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Cherington Primed. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington says his focus in player acquisition has been getting players in their primes (examples: Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon). Cherington notes players in their prime ages are typically at their healthiest and strongest, writes John Tomase. Player to watch: Kevin Youkilis. In the last three years, Youkilis has played in 358 games, compared to J.D Drew who played in 357. Youk will be 33 years old this coming season. With top 3B prospect Will Middlebrooks at AAA Pawtucket and in the last year of his contract (with a team option); Youkilis needs to demonstrate he can still produce.

Papelbon Pumped. Old friend Jonathan Papelbon arrived at Phillies Spring Training and opened with a press conference – declaring he was ready to start a new chapter. When discussing Boston, Papelbon gave thumbs to new Red Sox closer Bailey – saying Bailey has what it takes to thrive in Boston. The pressure will be on Pap (nothing new there) – with Philadelphia called out by pundits for overpaying Papelbon. The Phillies are a veteran – borderline old – team and win now is the mantra. Papelbon will be counted on to deliver. That’s what he is getting the big bucks to do.

Red Sox in Five Years. ESPN ran an interesting feature projecting where each MLB team will stand in a power ranking five years from now (subscription required). It’s not going to get any easier for the Red Sox. Boston scored well, landing in the #5 spot – but looking up at AL East foes Yankees #2 and Rays #3. And the Blue Jays came in at #6. Expect continued heavy competition for playoff spots – even with an expanded playoff picture – in coming years. Texas was #1.

Brentz Ready to Bop. Red Sox OF prospect Bryce Brentz talks to about getting ready for the coming season. Brentz had a breakout year in 2011. Figure him to start the season playing again for high-A Salem with the opportunity to move to AA Portland if he shows he is ready for a promotion during the year. also spoke with former Boston prospect Casey Kelly as he prepared for Spring Training – who has a shot at the Padres rotation.

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