Found April 01, 2013 on Boston's Bettah:
Sox fans are hoping John Farrell can get Jon Lester and this rotation back into shape It’s finally here. Time to put last year’s nightmare season to rest and start the 2013 chapter of the Boston Red Sox. The Sox head to the Bronx Monday to open their season against rival New York Yankees. The Sox Yanks series to start the season should be exciting as they come, although neither team is projected to make the playoffs by most analysts. As far as I see it, the AL East is weak this season, and is up for grabs, so don’t be surprised if the Sox make a run at this thing. After a season that seemed to never end, the Sox did little in free agency to improve their squad. They stuck with their guns in Lester and Buchholz, hoping the two former Cy Young candidates can return to form, while signing Ryan Dempster to solidify the rotation. The Sox rotation was at the bottom of the league in just about every category this year, but after great springs from Lester and Buchholz, hope is that these two can bounce back from their abysmal seasons last year and keep this rotation in line. If Buchholz and Lester can return to form and be the number 1 and 2 starters we know they are capable of, then this team has a chance to compete. The hits will always come (we’ll get to this later), and the bullpen is probably the strongest part of the team coming into the season. Since I’m so excited about this reworked bullpen, let us talk about it in-depth. The Sox went out and got a stud closer in Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan has the stuff and seems to have the right frame of mind to close out games here in Boston. If, for some reason, Hanrahan fails or gets hurt, the Sox have former All-Star closer Andrew Bailey to take over the reigns in the 9th. Bailey seems to be on a mission to prove the haters wrong this season after posting dreadful numbers in a quarter of a season last year. Bailey will be the setup man to start the season, and he has seemed to embrace that role. With the backend of the bullpen set for now, John Farrell and the Sox have a lot of weapons they can use in many different situations. First, there’s lefty specialist/long-relief specialist Andrew Miller. After struggling his first few years in the big leagues, Miller has found a home in Boston as one of their more dependable arms out of the pen. Miller had a great spring and seems to get better and better everyday. We then have Koji Uehara, who could prove to be very valuable this season. Uehara has a career 2.89 ERA and strikes out more than a batter per inning. With the recent struggles of Alfredo Aceves, Uehara could be the right hander Farrell relies on most in the 6th and 7th innings. The Sox have had their fair share of mediocrity with the bullpen in recent years, but this pen is shaping up to be one of the better ones in baseball. With David Ortiz out with his foot injury, the Sox are turning to the likes of Pedroia and Ellsbury to carry this offense. They decided to move Johnny Gomes to DH and keep super-stud phenom Jackie Bradley Jr. on the roster. Bradley will be starting in left field for the Sox on Monday, and hopes to pick up right where he left off this spring. Bradley sure is something to be excited about if you’re a Sox fan, but expectations can not be too high to begin with. Bradley is a great player, but let us not forget that he is only 22 and hasn’t played a day in the major leagues. I expect big things from Bradley, but understand that it could take time before he transfers his game over to the big leagues. The Sox are hoping that third baseman Will Middlebrooks can work off of his good rookie campaign that was stopped short by a broken wrist. Middlebrooks could be a huge X-factor this season. I’m expecting him to be a solid .280-.290 hitter with 20-25 homers and 80-100 RBIs if he can stay on the field all season. Another position player to look out for is first baseman Mike Napoli, who is coming off an absolutely awful season in Texas. Napoli has shown that he can be a top 30 hitter in baseball as he did in 2011, and with his swing he can hopefully he can use the Green Monster to his advantage. The Sox aren’t going to be the best team in baseball. They are going to struggle to get wins at points this year. But if the pitching staff can hold their own, this team can compete. Like I said before, I don’t see anyone running away with the East this year, and if the Sox can find some chemistry and momentum, look out, because this group of players is ready to prove that last year was a hoax, and they’re not the crybaby know-it-all losers they were displayed as last year. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited as hell for the first pitch in the Bronx on Monday. Go Sox.
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