Editor's note: "Seeking Normalcy" is the first of a seven-part series previewing the 2009 MLB season. Part Two, "More of the Same,"spot-lighting the NL East is below. Parts Three and Four, spot-lighting the NL and AL Central Divisions will be published Wednesday, April 1. Parts Five and Six, spot-lighting the NL and AL West Divisions will be published Friday, April 3. Part Seven, covering season awards and postseason berths will be published Monday, April 6.
1. Boston Red Sox
- Jed Lowrie is underrated. Whether he beats out Julio Lugo or has to wait around for a Mike Lowell injury, his infield versatility and decent bat gives the Red Sox bench something few others have.
- Hard to believe Clay Buchholz starts the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, but if he does, he might be stuck there a while.
- Even with a record-breaking spending spree, Brian Cashman managed to shave $20 million from the team's 2008 payroll.
- Anyone else realize that Derek Jeter had a down year last year? Didn't think so.
- Manager Joe Maddon's got a bright post-baseball future if and when he gets to that point. Anyone who can keep the Rays believing that they're a 97-win club is a motivational speaker without peer. Tony Robbins, watch out.
- Ever notice how you only find fair-weather fans in fair-weather cities i.e. Los Angeles and Miami? What's going to happen when these Rays win fewer games than the median summertime temperature in Tampa? FYI, that's about 84 degrees.
- Cito Gaston rung up a 51-37 record down the stretch of last season and somewhere a Joe Carter Fairy got its wings. He's also one of the only guys in major league baseball who doesn't have to be issued a new jersey for Retro Sundays.
- The same benign run support that plagued Halladay scared newly-aquired Adam Loewen to trade in his breaking ball for batting gloves.
- Daniel Cabrera's 100 walks a season would be a godsend right now.
- Breaking news: Baltimore owner Peter Angelos petitions league office for more home gomes per season. "We want to schedule more Cal Ripken Jr. Days to make the fans overlook our irrelevance."
- More breaking news: Angelos uses promise of lamb gyros to lure Markakis into date night with ugly daughter.