72°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Red Sox off to Hot Start, but Let’s Not Hand Them the Pennant Yet

Fenway+Park+presents+some+opportunities+for+the+new-look+lineup+to+put+up+big+numbers
Fenway Park presents some opportunities for the new-look lineup to put up big numbers

Let’s not bet the house on the World Series quite yet, but I’ll admit, there hasn’t been much to complain about with the Red Sox after the first week of the season. Our hometown heroes started out with series wins over the Phillies and Yankees and looked like a team that will have plenty of upside, and may even compete into late October. But even if the pieces seem to be in place for the Sox, the team still has a couple of areas that they could improve throughout the year.
Hanley Ramirez has looked like the guy ownership told us about all those years he played in the minors. The left fielder has mashed the ball out of the gates, and looks to be an integral part of any success Boston will have this season. We’ll still have to see how he can play up against the Green Monster at Fenway Park, though if Manny Ramirez can do it I have faith that somebody with the athleticism Hanley possesses will learn quickly.
Mookie Betts has continued to look good, while Xander Bogaerts seems to be enjoying batting towards the bottom of the order—he’s had a fast start and looks to be another tough out in the batting order. Like Bogaerts, his partner up the middle has also had a strong start. Dustin Pedroia has looked motivated and healthy—even displaying the ability to go yard.
Even though a lot of the lineup has had great starts at the plate, one guy didn’t look too great during the first week of the season. If we’re being honest, that may even be too gentle on him. David Ortiz looked lost. Our Papi struck out five times in his first seven at bats, and a lot of his swings weren’t close to making contact with the ball. I’m not giving up on the big guy just yet—he’s a legend who, in my opinion, deserves to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but the facts are the facts. He didn’t have a great start.
What’s ironic about his slow start is all the complaining he did during spring training. It doesn’t seem like too many sports writers ever really criticize Ortiz—whenever his name gets associated with steroids it seems he gets a pass and the charges are quickly swept under a rug. But for some reason, Big Papi always seems to complain about all of his “haters” that don’t want to see him do well. I’m not among them, though I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the chatter about his slow start grow louder if it continues after the first month of the season.
One of the biggest question marks entering the season was how Boston’s pitching staff would work out. Many publicly criticized the team’s manager, John Farrell, for saying the team has five aces, a proclamation that seemed like a reach entering the start of the season. But throughout the first week of the season, each starting pitcher put together a strong performance when they took the mound for the first time.
While Clay Buccholz pitched well in his first start of the season, let’s not get crazy and hand over the CY Young just yet. We’ve seen that act before, but the question has always been his ability to maintain it as a reliable starter for all 162 games. He needs to reach 190 innings for me to become a believer, though if he can continue to pitch well in the first month of the season it will go a long way towards helping the Sox build a lead atop the AL East standings.
What is encouraging is how the rest of the starting pitchers performed in their debuts. Even in a loss, Rick Porcello looked pretty impressive. Will he prove to be worth the $82 million extension he just signed? The jury is still out. But he looked like a solid pitcher, just as he did for Detroit in recent years. Justin Masterson, Wade Miley and Joe Kelly all looked impressive too, though the key will be those guys’ ability to keep it going throughout the season.
I believe the Red Sox will make a deep run into late October. The lineup is stacked, the pitchers seem to have the stuff to force enough outs to allow our hitters to put up runs, and we’re due after a last-place finish last season. Even though I am confident we’re going to be in for an exciting summer of competitive baseball, let’s just not hang up the AL Pennant after the first week of the season. Boston’s focus should be winning each series it plays—that’s how you find yourself at the top of the Division standings.
Don’t break the bank to wager a bet on success just yet, but be thankful ownership has seemingly put a roster together with World Series aspirations.