The day is finally here. Opening day. The Yankees will take on the Red Sox at 1:05. CC Sabathia and Jon Lester will duel. With that in mind, I had a conversation with Steve Peterson over at BoSox Injection. Here are his responses. Enjoy the opener everyone. My responses about the Yankees can be found here.
In your opinion, did the Red Sox make enough changes in the offseason to help increase their chances to win in 2013?
After their 2012 train wreck, how could the Red Sox moves not make them better in 2013? They completely turned over the coaching staff and have a manager that the players respect and for whom they want to win. Bringing in veteran guys like Shane Victorino
, Mike Napoli
and Jonny Gomes
has helped turn around a clubhouse that was poisoned since the end of the 2011 season. Boston had so many holes to fill – left field, right field, shortstop, starting pitching – that it was a tall order to fill. They could have done a bit better but could have done a helluva lot worse.
What/who have been your most surprising upsides and let downs during this spring training season?
Sox top prospect Jackie Bradley
Jr. has flat out been raking all spring, making Manager John Farrell
’s decision to start him in the minors very difficult. He has been the best player in Boston’s lineup this spring – and not by a little. Of the 20 players in Boston’s lineup who have had 20 at bats or more, Bradley (39 at bats) is first. His team leading .423 batting average is nearly 90 points
higher than his nearest teammate. He’s first on the team in OBP, OPS, runs scored, hits and walks.
Pitchers Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz
have also had very good springs. They are a combined 5-0 with 16 strikeouts each. Opponents have batted 0.92 and .167 respectively against the duo. Yeah, spring training doesn’t mean much but the past two springs when they’ve been sub-par it has translated directly to their regular season malaise.
Key injuries impact teams both on Opening Day and beyond. What injuries, both short-term and long-term, will most hamper the Red Sox’ ability to be successful?
The uncertainty around David Ortiz
’ heels is Boston’s biggest concern. His bat can’t be replaced. Without him Boston is simply less of a threat, period. Stephen Drew
’s lingering concussion symptoms are also a concern, although both Jose Iglesias
, who has trouble with the stick but is a human vacuum cleaner, and Pedro Ciriaco
can both be more than serviceable. As a team Boston set a Major League Baseball record last year with over 1,700 days of combined service missed. They have to avoid that same pattern or they’re destined to head for the bottom of the pack again.
What are the three keys to success for Boston to compete for an AL East title in 2013?
1. Starting pitching: Lester and Buchholz need to carry forward their strong springs to the regular season and John Lackey
, who has been much better this spring than the past two years, has to have a big year. On the back end Boston has a bunch of guys who can bridge the middle innings. Joel Hanrahan
, acquired from Pittsburgh, has to be the same shutdown guy he was for the Pirates.
2. Big Papi has to return and stay healthy.
3. Outfield defense. If Boston ends up with a regular season outfield of Victorino in right, Ellsbury in center and Jackie Bradley in left, they could take away a lot of hits and bolster the offense by hitting for average and stealing bases.
Predict your AL East end of season standings and why.
1.Tampa Bay Rays – A great pitching staff will bring it home for the Rays this year. I hate getting Joe Maddon
’s finger stuck in my eye and I don’t like his attitude toward the Sox but the guy knows how to manage and the Rays won’t come up short this year.
2. Toronto Blues Jays – Their new boatload of talent will be very good but not enough to catch the Rays.
3. Baltimore Orioles – I’m calling 2012 a fluke. I simply can’t see the Orioles winning anywhere near the same number of extra inning and one run games in 2013. If they go .500 in each of those categories this yea
r it will spell a last place finish.
4. Boston Red Sox – They’ll be .500 this year, which is a damn sight better than 2012, and their pitching and defense will be appreciably better. One slip and they’ll change positions with the Yankees.
5. New York Yankees – This is the year New York will be old all at once. Age, injury and lack of movement in the off-season will be too much to overcome.