With less than three weeks to go until the regular season, the majority of teams throughout Major League Baseball have issues and the Boston Red Sox are definitely one of those teams. After an offseason of what many are calling questionable moves by the Red Sox front office, the team is dealing with a starting rotation with a lot to prove and a starting line-up that is already hurting…literally.
The starting rotation consists of the top two pitchers, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, both coming off a below average season, a young pitcher coming off his first full year of experience in Felix Doubront, the newly acquired Ryan Dempster and John Lackey, who's coming off a year of rehab from Tommy John surgery. Lester, Buchholz and Doubront all had an ERA over 4.00 last season and Dempster when pitching for Texas had an ERA of 5.09. All have to be better. Crazy Aceves aside, I do like what the Red Sox have done with the bullpen and, on paper, believe they have one of the better ones in the American League.
The two main areas you look at for a team's success is the already discussed starting rotation and the middle of the line-up. An Ortiz-Napoli-Middlebrooks combination isn't the power we're used to seeing in a Boston line-up and that's before injuries, which by the way, all three have. All signs are pointing to Ortiz not even being ready for opening day due to his Achilles injury, which again, hinders this line-up even more.
Peter Gammons tweeted this the other day:
"Bosox were 46-44 w/ Ortiz in lineup in '12, 23-49 w/out him. After July 16 injury, team OBP was .296"
Mike Napoli is at least in the line-up right now but is dealing with hip issues. Will Middlebrooks re-injured his wrist early in spring training, an injury which side-lined him last year. I do like the top of the order with Ellsbury and Pedrioa, but after that, I'm just not seeing where opposing pitchers will feel intimated.
I was excited to see what the Red Sox front office would do with all the freed up money this offseason. As I've said in previous blogs, I think they missed the mark on the players they brought in and we're already seeing the effects before the season has even started.
Don't forget, I'm a Red Sox fan. I want this team to do well. After September 2011 and a 69 win 2012, I'm ready for a turnaround and we'll see if this team has what it takes to do just that.