So, here we sit. The season is merely one day away! Can you control yourself? There's just so much to think about. What will happen tomorrow? How will everyone look? How will they go from there?
Like everyone else, I'm sure, I've given a bit of thought to those questions. It's impossible not to. Which answers did I come up with? I'm glad you asked.
As you may have picked up from reading the blog, I'm expecting big things from the Red Sox this year. Frankly, it's really hard not to. Oh, sure. There are holes and question marks. But, every team has those. We just tend to look at them a little harder when they our team.
But, they fixed two holes that I felt were the biggest problems with the 2015 team. If you look at the pitching staff, they actually didn't do that poorly for much of the season. But, they had this one terrible stretch. From about mid-May through June maybe, not a single starter did well. They all struggled every time out there. It was weird. It almost built onto itself. That meant that the bullpen had to pitch extra innings for about a month. They never got a rest. By the time the rotation snapped out of it, the pen was spent. That's where David Price and Craig Kimbrel come it. With any luck, Price will provide a resting spot for the bullpen. Sure, it won't be like when Pedro was pitching 9 innings all the time. But, it'll be similar. Maybe instead of using four relievers in his start, you know you'll only need two. That's a big difference. Not only does it rest those two guys, but it stops the spiral a bit. The rest of the rotation doesn't feel the pressure of a long streak. Price should be that stopper. On the other end, Kimbrel should help out by giving one more option. Instead of burning up Taz and Koji every time a game is important, you can at least pick and choose between Taz-Koji-Kimbrel. It's amazing sometimes how just that one extra option can change everything. I think it will when it comes to the 2016 team.
The rest of the rotation? Sure, it's nothing amazing. But, Kelly closed out last season pretty well. And, when he's healthy Buchholz can be the best there is. Are there questions about the fifth starter? Of course there are. Show me a team that doesn't question their fifth starter.
You know that I'm happy with the first base situation. If Hanley's shoulder is back to normal, he should provide the pop that the Sox were sorely lacking last season. Betts and Bogaerts should be able to expand on what they did last season. I'd worry about a sophomore slump, but they're not really those types of players. Effort and athleticism don't slump. It's not like a power hitter that shows off a hole in his swing. Stacking them at the top of the order with Ortiz and Hanley following them should be a wonderful trip.
Of course, I don't love everything. Pedroia's steady decline since signing that albatross of a contract a couple years ago is annoying. You know I'm not thrilled with Travis Shaw at third base. And, I like the idea of Castillo in left. But, I guess I'll have to make my peace with Holt out there. (Man, if they'd just put him at second.)
But, those should just be bumps in the road on the way to 90 wins. (I'll go with 94, actually.) From there, it'll be time to see if Panda and Papi can bring Price along for the ride.
It'll be fun to find out.
Don't you agree?
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