Why Red Sox Fans Should Be Excited This Season
The Boston Red Sox have had so much pressure and expectations the past decade or so that city of Boston has become a media circus at times. I have heard fans on Twitter and other social media that they aren’t looking forward to the 2013 season. I know the Red Sox finished 63-93 last season but as a long time fan of the Sox, I am very excited for the 2013 season.
This is the first season since maybe 2001 that the fans don’t have heightened expectations for this team. The Red Sox are expected to finish in either fourth or fifth place in the American League East by most media experts.
The Toronto Blue Jays, much like the 2011 Boston Red Sox will have all the pressure. Not only are the Blue Jays expected to win the AL East, they are picked to win the American League Pennant by some. With all of their trades and signings over the off-season, they are the favourites by Las Vegas to win the World Series. So this is great because the Red Sox can fly under the radar a bit and not have the attention they’ve had the past couple of seasons or so. This team could benefit from being out of the spotlight a little bit after the 2011 collapse and the horrible 2012 season.
I don’t believe the Red Sox will be as bad as experts suggest. They do have some holes with the starting pitching staff and possibly at first base. Mike Napoli depending on his health will either be an excellent signing or a complete bust. At least the Sox didn’t sign him to that three-year, $39 million deal that was first reported. If Napoli gets hurt, the Red Sox signed Lyle Overbay, who can offer spot duty at first base. Napoli has traditionally been a great hitter at Fenway Park. If he can give the Sox over 100 games at first base, that will provide a spark for the offence.
Fans have implied that the Red Sox need an ace in their starting staff since Josh Beckett is no longer on the roster. I disagree, because I have full confidence that Jon Lester can regain his form from the 2008-2011 seasons. During those four seasons, Lester averaged 16.25 victories a season for the Red Sox and was even a more reliable starter than Beckett. With former Red Sox Pitching Coach John Farrell now the manager of the Red Sox, I believe one of his many projects will be to help Lester regain his form. If Farrell can improve the pitching of Lester, Clay Buchholz and even John Lackey, the Sox will finish at least over .500.
Say what you will about the pitching staff, but the Red Sox offence hasn’t been the reason for their struggles the past two seasons. Before getting hurt last season, David Ortiz was having an excellent season. Ortiz hit .318 with 23 homeruns in only 90 games. He returns as well as the player who should have won the 2011 MVP, Jacoby Ellsbury.
I’m not expecting the 2011 Ellsbury to return but I do believe he will have a better season than .271 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. He never seem to find his groove last season, but it should return provided he can stay healthy. If Ellsbury can have numbers similar to 2009 when he hit .301 with eight homeruns and 70 stolen bases that would be a plus.
The free agent the Red Sox signed weren’t the sexy names the fans were hoping for, but I believe they will be a welcome addition to this ball club David Ross isn’t going to have the big numbers offensively, but he provides great leadership and knowledge as a backup catcher. Jonny Gomes is an outfielder that is always good for 18 to 20 home runs a season. Stephen Drew can do a serviceable job holding down the shortstop position until Jose Iglesias is ready to take over full-time.
Some Red Sox fans didn’t like the Shane Victorino signing. Yes maybe the Sox overpaid, but I think Victorino will be good defensively in right field. Offensively Victorino maybe be only be a .260-.265 hitter but you will get very good defence and good base-stealing.
Ryan Dempster could be the difference in the Red Sox making the play-offs or not. I heard a lot of complaining about this deal when it was made by Sox fans, but Red Sox could have done a lot worse. Critics point at his 5.09 ERA after being traded to the Rangers last season, but he did improve in last few starts in Texas. While Dempster isn’t the ace some were looking for, he is a very good number three or fourth starter for this rotation.
I’m going to enjoy this season as a fan and I suggest other Red Sox fans should too. The Red Sox may play in the toughest division in baseball, but they are far from one of the worst teams in the American League. With Bobby Valentine gone, the Sox will improve by 10 wins alone in 2013. Without the weight of any expectations, just enjoy the season fans and take it game by game. Remember, the Toronto Blue Jays have all the pressure, the Boston Red Sox do not.
Antwan Staley is a Journalism graduate from East Carolina University. You can listen to Antwan every Saturday morning on Blogtalkradio.com or follow him in Twitter @blackredsoxfan