April 22, 2014

While few were expecting the Boston Red Sox to repeat their unexpected fast start from a year ago there are warning signs all over the place as they continue to stumble out of the gate. As opposed to going virtually injury-free last year, this year injuries to outfielder Shane Victorino and third-baseman Will Middlebrooks have caused repeated reshuffling of the day-to day lineup. While I wasn’t crazy about Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s streakiness as a hitter, I’m even less enamored of his replacement A.J. Pierzynski, who, at least to these eyes, seems kind of old with a slow bat. While I wasn’t in favor of the Sox signing sure-handed shortstop Stephen Drew – far better to find out now what Xander Bogaerts can do at short and assess whether Middlebrooks is their future 3B or July trading deadline bait – there’s no question the Sox have lost some range defensively, and I’ll bet the Sox pitching staff feels the same way.

Another concern is starter Clay Buchholz, who looked awful getting rapped all over the place during his 2 1/3 innings against the Orioles. He had shoulder and velocity issues last summer and looking at him throw it’s hard not to think there might be something physical going on there. And Felix Doubront’s inconsistency doesn’t bode well for him to take the kind of next step the Sox were, I’m sure, hoping for him. Still, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jake Peavy all look like they’re going to have solid seasons, and their bullpen is solid – enough to prevent them from going into any kind of extended losing streak. And I do think Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, and bo

More than anything else, it just appears this team is still trying to find its identity and that certain “something” it had last year. Whereas in 2013 they had something to prove after the disastrous Bobby Valentine year and to a new manager at the helm, this year they can be excused if there’s still a little bit of a World Series hangover after such a short off-season. And with Victorino and Middlebrooks out, shuffling players in and out of positions they may not be familiar with isn’t going to help, either. At any rate, I just don’t see the kind of crisp baseball they played last year.

And, if I might stray a bit off the baseball field, I think it’s time for a chnage in the NESN broadcast booth. Sure, Don Orsillo continues to do a great job as play-by-play guy, but I no longer find his partner Jerry Remy either interesting or entertaining. Sure, Jerry’s not responsible for his son’s murder rap and all the negative publicity that has followed since, but baseball is supposed to be fun and a much-needed distraction from everday life, and I just don’t find Remy able to pull that off anymore. Now that they have Steve Lyons for the pre-and post-game shows I sure wouldn’t mind seeing a platoon of him and Dennis Eckersley to bring a little life and fun back in the Sox broadcasts.

The season is still young, of course, and the American League East looks to be a five or six-team battle into September, but right now the Sox ain’t looking too good. If they’re still playing like this a month from now I’ll be concerned. But after last October, I’m more than willing to cut them some slack.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:11 | Comments Off on A Slow Start
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