So what does this Sox obsessed fan say about the 2013 season?
First, I’m almost never correct; so you can stop reading now if you’re interested in accuracy.
Second, even when I try to be a bit objective, I have trouble tamping down my enthusiasm and hopes for the Sox.
Third, my two days at Spring Training this year mean nothing and has given me no real insight, tho it has gotten my juices flowing for the regular season. Plus, as everyone knows (and often overlooks), Spring Training bears no resemblance whatsoever to what happens in the regular season. Won-Lost records in March are useless, tho the last two weeks when most of the starters play most of the games might be indicative of something (perhaps the first couple of weeks of the regular season, at best). Spring hitting and pitching statistics are unreliable. And finally, a teams’ lineup for most of the year often differs significantly from that of Opening Day (re, injuries, etc.).
However, I can’t resist making a few predictions about the coming Sox season and a few other observations as well.
As it always starts with pitching, so will I. Lester seems different than last year in some ways, perhaps having Farrell there helps. Buchholz is having a decent spring. Lackey is back, has lost weight, seems healthy, and perhaps has another season or two in him. He seems to have lost some of his attitude of ‘blaming’ others for his mistakes and definitely wants to prove himself. Dubront and Dempster will fill out the starting roster, and while neither are top of the line, at least one could give the Sox 200 innings. Beyond these five, the pickings are slim. Aceves? Whacko. Morales? Not healthy?
There’s good news in the bullpen, tho the key will be closer Hanrahan, or which Hanrahan shows up. Behind him, however, Miller, Uehara, Tazwa, Bailey, Mortensen, and Bard provide good mid and late inning support. If the starters and the offense can keep the Sox in the game until the 7th, these guys could be the key.
Beyond pitching, there are probably more questions than answers at this point.
Ortiz and Drew (Stephen, shortstop) will not start the season. Papi’s the key one here. If he cannot overcome his injury(ies?), the Sox have no one to replace him or what he brings to the lineup.
Don’t expect there to be as many runs scored as in previous years. The bats just aren’t there. There is potential, but until we know which Ellsbury shows up, how Middlebrooks will do for a whole season (assuming he can stay healthy), if Napoli can provide consistent RBIs, and if some combination of Victorino, Gomes, Bradley, Nava, Sweeney can handle left and right field and the offense, we simply don’t know enough.
Pedroia is likely to be reliable and the combination of Salty and Ross behind the plate should be adequate.
It seems to me that Farrell is having a positive impact, and the team wants to put last season behind and make up for its dismal result. Last year’s debacle had more to do with injuries I think than the managing. Certainly Valentine was a bad choice from the get go, but he knows baseball, and he can’t be blamed for the injuries, which were far above the usual difficulties a team has to face. The Sox put a lot of effort this winter into bringing in players who make for a good clubhouse and a positive team outlook. But whether the team can stay healthy is the biggest issue I think.
My bottom line for this year?
Sox will win at least 88 games, be competitive, but ultimately not make the playoffs.
As for the AL East in general, I think all five teams are capable of being in the chase for a playoff spot. It wouldn’t surprise me if all five of the teams win at least 88-90 games.
Finally, because I live in DC and love baseball, I attend at least 15-20 Nats’ games a year. (Actually, it’s quite pleasant to do so as, unlike when I’m at Fenway, I don’t live or die on every pitch, hit, error, etc.).
How will the Nats do this year?
They will be lucky to repeat last year’s record of 98 wins and a Division title. They seem to have strengthened their team over the winter, but I think they will not be able to repeat all those late inning, one run wins they had last year. Plus, the Braves and the Phillies seem stronger than they were last year.
Bottom line? A good season for the Nats with a wild card berth.
If you’re still reading this, then you might be interested in knowing what the Las Vegas folks think is going to happen this year:
As of Feb. 11:
Tigers 7/1 to win the WS & 3/1 win the pennant.
Angels 7/1 to win the WS & 7/2 to win the pennant.
Nationals 8/1 to win the WS & 7/2 to win the pennant. (I bought a few of these tickets)
Giants 13/1 to win the WS & 6/1 to win the pennant.
Yankees 15/1 to win the WS & 7/1 to win the pennant.
Red Sox 28/1 to win the WS & 14/1 to win the pennant. (I bought a number of these tickets)
(These were the Cantor Race & Sports Book. the MGM Grand odds were slightly different, but still the Tigers and the Nationals were picked to win the WS).
Finally, for those of you who may be interested:
Kansas City Chiefs – 1/28/13 – 150/1 to win Super Bowl. 2/12/13 – 60/1 to win Super Bowl!