Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Giving the Bad Guys Their Due

Ok, so I picked the Boston Red Sox to finish dead last in the American League East. Based after last season, how could I think that they would be in first place as of July 22, 2013. By golly I have to give them their proper credit. I credit the return of former pitching coach John Farrell to take the reins of the team after the debacle that was the one year managerial term of Bobby Valentine as being a big part of the return of the Red Sox. They want to play for him since they see him as being one of them. Valentine could never shed the outsider label and some of his decisions and comments didn't help his cause.

Farrell has stabilized the rotation to the point where even John Lackey is producing. Lackey came into camp in the best shape since his days with the Angels and isn't as reviled with Red Sox nation as he was in years past. Lester is pitching as expected and Buchholz was the best pitcher in the American League before his injuries. Mainstays Pedroia, Ellsbury and "Big Papi" David Ortiz continue to do what they do best. Where the Red Sox have been negatively affected by their last two relief pitching trades (basically Andrew Bailey for Josh Reddick and Joel Hanrahan for Mark Melancon) they have greatly benefited from three somewhat low key free agent signings. Watching the Red Sox vs. Yankees game last night at the bar, I realized that the signings of Shane Victorino, Johnny Gomes and Mike Napoli might be the reason the Red Sox make it back to the post-season this year since being swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2009 in the first round.

In my opinion, Victorino was a much better fit in Fenway than Carl Crawford ever was. While he has speed, his offensive game isn't dependent on said speed to be effective. I always felt that Crawford needed a wide open park to play in to exploit the gaps in the outfield for doubles and triples. The Green Monster was an offensive killer for Crawford and as with Valentine, he just didn't fit it. Victorino is the kind of scrappy player that the Red Sox nation seems to embrace.

Gomes and Napoli have embraced that dirty and gritty bearded look that would have driven former New York Yankees Colonel Ruppert crazy. LOL. Gomes came over from Tampa Bay and Napoli from Texas and have had major hits for the Red Sox this season. The homer Gomes had off of Sabathia left smoke trails in the air as it hit the lights. Napoli simply crushed both pitches he drove into the seats to put the Yankees away in extra innings.

Where the Yankees offseason offensive signings have been somewhat productive (mainly with Lyle Overbay who the Red Sox let go before the end of Spring Training) being the best of the signings, the Red Sox have really done well with signing guys to fit the holes from last season. This four game series the Red Sox are hosting against the Tampa Bay Rays will be very important for both teams since after this series they only play three more times in Tampa in mid-September.

While we still have about 60 games to go, I still think the Rays will end up as the champs of the American League East, I don't see the Red Sox making my prediction come true. Rats!!!! LOL. There's always next season.

Sisco Kid