Red Sox Opening Day: Boston Beats New York 8-2

Successful Start: The Boston Red Sox put their best foot forward yesterday (April 1st), by beating the New York Yankees 8-2 at Yankee Stadium. The victory marks the first Opening Day win for Boston since the 2010 season when the Sox (coincidentally enough) beat New York 9-7 on April 4th.

Red Sox OF Shane Victorino
Picture Courtesy of blogs.eagletribune.com

Jon Lester looked impressive on the mound tossing five solid innings with a 3.60 ERA, five hits, two earned runs, two walks, and seven strikeouts to start the season at 1-0. Newcomer and Sox outfielder Shane Victorino had a big day in the big apple with 3 RBI going 2 for 6 at the dish. Meanwhile, outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury (2 RBI 2 for 6) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (1 RBI 0 for 2 with a fielders choice to score Will Middlebrooks in the 7th.) produced as well en route to a win against the Evil Empire.

Rookie OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
Picture Courtesy of cbsboston.files.wordpress.com

Side Note: Historical Highlight: According to ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes Spring sensation and rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.’ major league debut in left field for the Sox, is the first time a rookie has made the Opening Day roster for Boston since Shea Hillenbrand in 2001, and Bradley Jr. is the youngest left fielder to start on Opening Day since Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski in 1961 and 1962.

Final Thoughts: There’s no better way to wash off some of the stench that was the 2012 season, than to come out and beat your most hated division rival by a few runs. Managed by new skipper John Farrell, the Red Sox look ready to turn the page and write a new chapter in the teams history book. How do you feel about the Sox after their Opening Day win? Leave a comment below.

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Boston Red Sox 2013 Season Preview

With pitchers and catchers meeting in Fort Myers, FL this Sunday (Feb.10th) baseball season is officially back!! Well alright, “technically” it’s not back until Feb. 21st when the Red Sox  play Northeastern in their first scheduled Spring Training game. Nevertheless, with the season, and spring, right around the corner; I thought I’d give the Fenway Faithful a preview of what 2013 should look like for the Bo-Sox.

Likely Lineups:

1.OF Shane Victorino

2. OF Jacoby Ellsbury

3. 2B Dustin Pedroia

4. DH David Ortiz

5. 1B Mike Napoli

6. OF Jonny Gomes

7. 3B Will Middlebrooks

8. SS Stephen Drew

9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Granted this is just a rough draft of what the lineup “could look like”. Only John Farrell will truly be able to assemble a proper lineup when spring training is complete. For now, the above lineup is my take on where Farrell may go with the batting order.

The lineup could very well have Ellsbury and Napoli batting Cleanup at 3 and 4 which would then likely shift Dustin Pedroia to bat 2nd in front of Ellsbury and have Papi batting 5th after Napoli. Also, Farrell may choose to have a healthy Ellsbury be the lead-off hitter, which Ellsbury has certainly had success at in seasons past. However if Ellsbury puts up 2011 numbers this season, having him 2nd or 3rd could be more beneficial for the Red Sox as far as RBI production is concerned.

Lastly, the bottom of the order is subject to change as well. Middlebrooks, Gomes, and Drew could all bat lower or higher based on their spring training results. Salty will stay at the bottom of the order until he can prove he’s the switch hitting prodigy he was supposed to be. Only time will tell what the everyday batting order will eventually look like.

5 Man Rotation:

1. Jon Lester. 2. Ryan Dempster. 3. Clay Bucholz. 4. Felix Doubront. 5. John Lackey

While the pitching rotation isn’t exactly terrifying to many teams in the majors, this assembly of arms can get the job done for Boston. Lester and Bucholz will have to bounce back, Dempster will have to pitch more consistently than in seasons past, Felix Doubront will have to prove he wasn’t just a one year wonder baller, and John Lackey will have to return to his prime if the Sox want to get the most wins out of this group.

The rotation may change throughout the season, as it often does, as the Red Sox have options should one of these guys fold. Boston can bring up the likes of Rubby De la Rosa or Allen Webster from Triple-A Pawtucket if those two show they are primed for a big league day job.

Also, Boston could add to the Rotation if they choose to sign still-free-agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals). Again like the lineup above, only time will tell what is working, and what needs to be worked out.

The Pen:

Relievers: 1. Andrew Bailey 2. Koji Uehara 3. Daniel Bard 4. Craig Breslow 5. Alfredo Aceves

Closer: Joel Hanrahan

The Red Sox Bullpen as it stands right now is the strongest weapon Boston has entering this season. While the 5-man rotation could use some re-tooling, and our lineup is still missing a big bat or two, the pen looks to have great promise in 2013.

Boston went out in the off-season and added the likes of relievers Koji Uehara and Craig Breslow, and new closer Joel Hanrahan to sure up the 7th,8th and 9th innings for this year. All of which were inexpensive upgrades that should ultimately pay off for the Red Sox.

Win-Loss/ Post-Season Projections:

Though I’m a die-hard Red Sox fan to my very core, I must blog with a sense of realism in making these next few predictions.

Win-Loss Record: 85-77 (I didn’t just come up with this record out of thin air just so you know. I went through the entire schedule and chose game by game what I thought were wins and losses for the Red Sox.)

AL East Finish: I sadly have the Red Sox finishing third this year just ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays by a few games. I see the Toronto Blue Jays meeting everyone’s expectations and winning the east with the Yankees somehow frustratingly finishing in 2nd place. The Orioles return to their usual spot, in the AL East’ cellar in last place.

Postseason: With the Sox finishing third by my count, there will be no post-season play for this Red Sox group. I have the Blue Jays clinching a spot with the division crown and the New York Yankees beating out Boston for the final of two Wild Card spots by a few games.

Final Thoughts: I whole heartedly hope I’m way wrong about my season predictions for the Red Sox. I hope some how, some way, the Red Sox can bring back some of that 2004 magic and sneak into the post-season. Realistically though, I only foresee a minor improvement for Boston as this is a rebuilding year. I look at it this way, ANY results this season should be better than last seasons 69-93 last place finish. How do you see the 2013 season going for Boston? Leave a comment below.

Ellsbury, Red Sox Avoid Arbitration Agree To $9 Million Deal

Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury successfully avoided arbitration this week as the two sides came to terms on a 1 year deal worth 9 million dollars. Ellsbury missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for 79 games.

Ellsbury will look to bounce back this year and put up numbers like he did for Boston back in 2011. In 11′ he finished runner up in the MVP race with a .321 AVG, 32 HR, 105 RBI, and a .928 OPS. Ellsbury will join a Sox outfield that will include off-season acquisitions Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino.

Final Thoughts: Signing Ellsbury to avoid Arbitration was a great move by Boston. It shows Ellsbury that the clubhouse will be willing to negotiate a bigger payday at seasons end (which is when Jacoby becomes a free agent). Which in turn, should have Ellsbury feeling good and ready to put up big numbers again.

The biggest key for Jacoby, as we all know, is just to stay healthy in 2013. What do you think? Will Jacoby bounce back this year? Can he stay healthy to play a full season? Leave a comment below.

Recap of the Red Sox Winter Meetings Moves

The Boston Red Sox broke out their checkbooks last week, and made some off-season deals that didn’t break the bank. The Bo-Sox came away with three players in the 2012 Winter Meetings held in Nashville.

Boston signed free agents Mike Napoli (catcher/first base), Shane Victorino (outfielder), and Koji Uehara (reliever). These moves will help to bolster some of the holes on the roster. Here’s a breakdown of what each player brings to the team:

Done Deals:

Mike Napoli: The Sox signed Nap to a three year deal worth 39 million dollars. Napoli batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI in 2012. He brings flexibility, as he can play either catcher or first base, as well as a solid bat in the lineup for Boston. Which position he will spend more time at, depends on what Boston plans to do with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. If they trade Salty, Napoli would likely become the starter at catcher. If they rotate Nap and Salty, expect to see Nap on first some nights and Salty behind the plate. At age 31, Napoli brings veteran experience and a clubhouse presence. Something the Sox could certainly use.

Shane Victorino: The Sox also inked Victorino to a three year-39 million dollar deal. Victorino batted .255 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in 2012. His numbers were down from 2011 (.279 AVG, 17 HR, 61 RBI) however, Victorino is a veteran outfielder who offers years of experience and is well known for being active in community work around the city in which he plays for. Boston most likely looks at Napoli and Victorino (along with Jonny Gomes) as guys who can come in and set an example for the rest of the team. Victorino will mainly offer another bat to the lineup, and if his numbers have an uptick in 2013, he could prove to be a smart move by the Sox when it’s all said and done.

Koji Uehara Koji Uehara #19 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the sixth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California.

Koji Uehara: The Sox and Uehara agreed to terms on a one year- 4.25 million dollar deal. Uehara was regarded as one of the best relievers last year playing for the Texas Rangers. Uehara posted a 1.75 ERA with a 0.64 WHIP with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings of work in 2012. At 37, Uehara brings a veteran arm to an already solid bullpen. This was a nice, inexpensive move by Boston.

Less is More: Total Money Spent at the 2012 Winter Meetings: 82.25 million dollars. Which isn’t bad considering how much money Boston dropped in 2011 (roughly over 300 million dollars) and we all saw how that panned out. Maybe “Less is More” will actually be true for the 2013 Red Sox.

Final Thoughts:What Red Sox fans should take away from these deals is this. The Red Sox are trying to piece together a balance of talent and character in what is the first of many building blocks to rebuilding this team. Napoli, Victorino, and Uehara will help mold the foundation, but the Sox still need a few more pieces before they can begin constructing a house.

What do you think? Did the Sox make the right moves in this year’s meetings? What would your next move be if you were Ben Cherington? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Offseason Options

ImageDecisions, Decisions: In an effort to sure up most of the remaining holes on our roster, the Boston Red Sox have been talking business with a few guys who could fit the bill. Free agent catcher Mike Napoli  and free agent outfielders Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, Ryan Ludwick, and Nate McClouth are all on Boston’s radar.

The Sox have already inked career back up catcher David Ross and outfielder Jonny Gomes at little cost. So, Boston is trying to make a few moves, in the upcoming winter meetings, to bolster the rest of the roster for next season.

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Let’s take a look at some of the Sox’s options in the free agency market:

Mike Napoli C/1B– Batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI in 2012. He’s a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI. Napoli, age 31, offers flexibility for Boston, being able to play catcher or first base, and he offers a solid bat in the lineup.

Nick Swisher OF- Batted .272 with 24 HR and 93 RBI for 2012. Swish is a career .256 hitter with 209 HR and 673 RBI. At 32-years-old, Swisher offers veteran experience and is known throughout the MLB as a great clubhouse personality and a gamer. With Ellsbury, a re-signed Ross (hopefully) and Swisher/Gomes the outfield would certainly be set. But, Swisher will likely seek too much money and fall off our list.

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Shane Victorino OF- Batted .255 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in 2012. Victorino is a career .275 hitter with 90 HR and 409 RBI. Victorino, also 32, would offer veteran experience like Swisher, but may not offer the same numbers Swisher can in the batters box. However, Victorino would be a more affordable option.

Ryan Ludwick OF- Batted .275 with 26 HR and 80 RBI in 2012. Ludwick is a .263 career hitter with 143 HR and 530 RBI. Ludwick had a Cody Ross-esque year with the Cincinnati Reds and would be another veteran guy to add like Swish and Shane. But, at age 34, the question can be asked, how much longer will Ludwick produce? Also Ludwick’ stats may have swelled due to playing in Great American Ballpark (one of the smaller parks to play in, which allows for a higher HR/RBI production).

Nate McClouth OF- batted .241 with 7 HR and 20 RBI in 2012. McClouth is a career .248 hitter with 88 HR and 290 RBI. McClouth’s numbers don’t exactly jump off the screen in the sense of production, but at 31-years-old, he could be a role player option (much like Gomes will be) if the Sox miss out on other outfielders.

Final Thoughts: The Good News: Boston will have plenty of options to consider going into the winter meetings. The Bad News: This year’s market for players, is one of the weakest in recent memory. The Sox will have to be smart and carefully consider who their best choices will be this off-season.

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Another position the Sox will need to address, finding a starting pitcher to sure up the rotation. There are a few big names in free agency like Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse, and Anibal Sanchez. However, Boston may resort to filling in the rotation by way of trade, instead of splurging on a starter.

 

Who do you think the Sox should sign next? Should they go after a big name like Josh Hamilton or Greinke? Leave a comment below.