Monday, March 30, 2015

One Week and Counting: Opening Day is Almost Here!

Monday, April 6th. It's a day I've been looking forward to all winter—all five months of frigid temperatures and endless snowstorms. But now, even as the temps struggle to make it out of the 30s, I can see baseball season. I can see the real sign that spring is actually here no matter what the thermometer or the snow in my yard says. And I will surely argue with myself that morning of April 6th whether or not I feel well enough to go to work.

My hope for this season? A respectable finish would be nice. You know... sort of like that season they had in 2013 and preferably not the two that flanked it. I don't like last place. I especially don't like last place living with a Yankees fan. There's no greater pain.

I have no idea what the Red Sox starting rotation is going to look like this year—especially with all these new faces. I do know that Clay Buchholz has been named Opening Day starter and after last season's 5.34 ERA, my confidence in the lanky righthander is not high. Former Tiger, Rick Porcello, seems to have the best 2014 resume of the bunch with a 3.43 ERA. And Justin Masterson returns to the Sox after spending time with the Indians and Cardinals, but despite an All-Star appearance in 2013, in 2014 he was worse than Buchholz with a 5.88 ERA. So basically... oy.

The Sox picked up a couple of big offensive threats in the off-season in Hanley Ramirez (who came up through the Red Sox farm system a decade ago) and Pablo Sandoval. Ramirez has had a respectable spring, but Sandoval hasn't impressed me too much. Mike Napoli has been on fire and as usual, Jackie Bradley Jr. is tearing up the spring. What is it about Bradley Jr. and his spring training successes? And will he carry that spark north to Boston? Because last year he was sort of a giant disappointment.

But Mookie Betts, dude. MOOKIE BETTS!! If the Sox don't find a spot for him to play regularly, I'm going to have someone's head. Seriously. (Unless, of course, he has JBJ disease and can't seem to play in the regular season.) This guy has been on hotter than fire. He's been like molten lava. He's logged among the most at bats during the pre-season and boasts a .452 average with 19 hits, seven doubles, two triples and two home runs—one of which was an inside-the-park jobby. He has scored 11 runs and has an OPS of 1.334. DUDE! Mookie for President!

So the jury is still out on how I feel about this team. Can Pedroia bounce back from a very un-Pedroia-like 2014? Can Big Papi still smash the ball without his ever growing ego getting in the way? What will the Sox do to solve their latest complication behind the plate with Christian Vazquez going out for the season? And most importantly, what are they going to do to stay out of the cellar so I can maintain my sanity?

Now I just sit and wait and wring my hands until the final 25-man roster is named and I become that crazed Boston fan who is never satisfied with any decision they make. I will also to continue to hope for a team that respects each other enough to not end up in last place again. A team that plays for the parade. I really liked that team.

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