On The Bright Side
The obvious surprise is the ancient mariner of designated hitters. The great Luke Appling was known as “Old aches and pains” and that is where Davis Ortiz is as he manages to go the distance with Father Time.
Hanley Ramirez is one happy camper at first base. Don’t expect a Gold Glove, but steady defense is fine and the hits keep on coming. No one month and out as in 2015.
Travis Shaw was a question mark that was partially erased in spring training. Now? The board is wiped clean and I’m starting to think All-Star team.
Dustin Pedroia is back a notch below MVP form.
Craig Kimbrel is touted as being the best closer in baseball for the last five seasons. That may be amended after 2016 to the last six seasons.
The catching duo of Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan won’t hit much, but when they do it seems to count. Then there is the top of the line defense. A bundle of man-love from the pitching staff for the both of them.
Jackie Bradley will have to go into the mother of all slumps to get back to the oft-mentioned .240.
Supporting cast. The Red Sox bullpen has had some decent performances from Matt Barnes, Tommy Layne, Robbie Ross and Heath Hembree along with the usual mainstays of Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. Is this a great bullpen? No. Is it a very good one? Yes. Then comes the other spare parts as Chris Young discovered his bat in cold storage and warmed it up. Josh Rutledge seems to do the right things when called upon. I also think that Marco Hernandez will be a solid contributor.
Style points. Comparisons are already being made to the 2013 team that somehow had the right chemistry – a subject I barely passed. What I have noticed is this is a fun team to watch and that had gone the way of the Dodo Bird the last two seasons.
Smart baseball. The Red Sox make mistakes – especially on the bases – but force a bundle more. This is an opportunistic group that takes the extra base, backs up plays, have above average defense and constantly the mention of “doing the little things” surface in conversation.