Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, April 30, 2015, 4:50 p.m.
I’m not an expert or an insider. I’ve loved the Boston Red Sox since my earliest memory, and I watch them on TV every chance I can. Oft times my whole day revolves around getting everything done so that I can watch the Red Sox in peace.
Sometimes it’s not very peaceful.
I love baseball in general, too, which is why the Angels and the Athletics are on right now. I’m less attentive to other teams. They are in the background while I peck away at this laptop. I watch the Yankees with some interest because I dislike them about half as much as I love the Red Sox, who were handed down by my father, who has been dead going on 22 years and never saw them win a World Series, and I don’t feel quite as badly about that because, near the end, he really didn’t care that much. The monster he created was I.
The season is 13.6 percent over now. It’s a little early to be either exultant or angry. There’s no statistically valid sample.
Unlike many, I was sort of mildly pessimistic when the season began. I was concerned that what had been built since the moribund 2014 season ended was a fascinating team that might not be particularly cohesive. This isn’t rare in the history of baseball in Boston. It’s always tempting to load up on luxury items for any team catered to the oddities of Fenway Park.
I have this theory that too many modern baseball teams are built as if the general managers are playing fantasy leagues. As a result, there are lots of fantasy teams.
As bad as the starting pitching has been, on balance, the rotation is more marked by inconsistency than ineptitude. Sometimes I get confused and think Clay Buchholz is Charlie Sheen. I think there’s hope, though. Boston doesn’t have a starter who can reliably be called upon to stop the opposition cold. Getting one will probably be too expensive.
Mistuh, we could use a man like Curtis Schilling again …
In recent years, one observer after another has griped about how the Red Sox have too many outfielders, and then the season starts, and there wind up being places for all of them. It’s no accident when Shane Victorino gets hurt. He does every year. Depth was the reason Boston won the World Series two years ago, and the wealth of interchangeable parts is a strength, not a weakness.
I hope Hanley Ramirez, the mismatched left fielder, stays healthy. So far, he’s the heart of the offense. I think David Ortiz will get better as the season develops because, until he doesn’t, his record suggests that he will. Mookie Betts is a pleasure to watch in center, as is Brock Holt, who is a pleasure there and most everywhere else. Sometimes I think they should let him pitch one time just for the hell of it.
Allen Craig looks like a Red Sox uniform gives him a rash or something. Maybe it’s the piping. Or the odd shape of the numerals. I keep waiting for him to be even a shadow of what he once was in St. Louis.
The loss of Christian Vazquez was awful, but I think Ryan Hanigan will suffice, and the backup, Sandy Leon, is good defensively.
The only thing I have against Hanigan is that right before the season started, I watched James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and, even though the name in the song was different, I can’t get the words out of my head, damn it.
H, A, Double-R, I, G-A-N spells Harrigan …
H-A, Single-N, I, G-A-N spells Hanigan …
Also, I find myself speaking in an Irish brogue.
The infield? Dustin Pedroia looks healthy, and he’s dazzling at second base even when he isn’t. Mike Napoli looks better physically than he ever has before, in Boston, at least, and he looks so good that I can’t believe he’s not going to start hitting. I’m fine with Xavier Bogaerts. He’s getting there. Leave him at short and let him develop. Pablo Sandoval is amazingly mobile at third for a panda bear, and if he gets hurt, and I expect he will, Holt is ready.
The bullpen’s still strong, though Koji Uehara, whom I revere, doesn’t epitomize perfection as he did in 2013. He’s old. He’s done yeoman’s work. I think he’s got a good year left. I’d rather have him than Jonathan Papelbon, or, for that matter, half the other closers in baseball. John Farrell can line them up: Craig Breslow, Alexi Ogando, Anthony Varvaro (sounds like the sound of a Porsche), Edwin Escobar, Robbie Ross, Junichi Tazawa, and Uehara.
Thanks to baseball’s most erratic collection of starters, Farrell has to line them up a lot, and I worry that they’ll all be worn out come August. Farrell must, too, because, occasionally, he uses Edward Mujica. Keep that knuckleballer, Steven Wright, in the bigs, if for no other reason because he can eat some innings and take one for the team, if need be.
Plus, I miss Tim Wakefield.
Among the rotating Roman candles starting, Rick Porcello looked great Wednesday night. Buchholz has looked great twice … and three times he has looked like he needed a Snickers bar to make the transition back from the second coming of Buddy Hackett. Everyone wants Joe Kelly to succeed. He might yet. They’re pretty much all the same, other than Wade Miley is left-handed. At 30, Justin Masterson ought to be more than the goofy kid he was when he first hurled for the Bosox.
The chief reason the starters will get better is that there’s no way they can get worse.
They’re going to win their share of slugfests, these Red Sox. They’re not going to win the AL East with them.
What of the East? Everyone is convinced no wild card is coming from it, and that it’s down, but I’m not sure that isn’t an early overreaction, too. Mainly, so far, the division members have been beating up on one another, and it won’t be clear, really, whether the division is weak, or tough top to bottom, until they prowl the rest of the league. The Red Sox have already won series against Philadelphia and Washington from the NL’s parallel region.
My guess is the Orioles are going to win the division again, mainly because Buck Showalter has grown in my estimation over the years, and I think he’ll get the most out of his team. The Yankees are going to hang around because they have lots of money, and it’s just about impossible for them not to contend. Toronto, I expect, will end up underachieving again, and the Rays are bound to tumble into a post-Joe Maddon malaise.
I think the Red Sox are going to contend, too, because most of their problems will get better, and they’re 12-10 right now.
I could be wrong. I’m not an insider. I just go by what I hear and see, and it can be misleading.
If you think of it, give my short fiction a read at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com, and consider my long fiction (and non-fiction) here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1