Home sweet home.
After consistently underachieving the past three seasons, the Boston Red Sox have a chance at being the surprise team in the AL East during the 2013 season.
Toronto has greatly improved their team on paper, but they’ve yet to show it on the field. The Yankees and Orioles both look primed to take a slight step backward.
One of the biggest things in the Red Sox favor is their early season schedule from April 1st to through May 12th.
The Red Sox play 24 of their first 39 games at Fenway Park to start the 2013 season. Within those 24 home games, four of the games will be played against the likely AL West doormat, Houston Astros and the lowly Minnesota Twins.
By May 13th, it will be easy to tell if the Red Sox are contenders or pretenders, positioning themselves for another top-10 selection in next year’s June draft or a wild card spot this season.
Boston isn’t really faced with their first extended road trip until mid-May, really allowing the team to utilize their entire roster and use the first six weeks of the season to get their pitching staff in order.
The heavy amount of home games and the proximity to Triple AAA-affiliate Pawtucket also means the Red Sox will be able to employ a taxi-squad at the minor league level, bringing up players as needed to support the roster.
This taxi-squad may allow the Red Sox to retain some minor league veterans who otherwise might look for another organization.
It will also allow Boston to bring up top prospects like Jackie Bradley Jr., Rubby De La Rosa or Allen Webster to get their feet wet for a couple of games with the expectation that the player is simply getting their first taste of playing at Fenway, something the team has done with other top prospects like Jonathan Papelbon, Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury in the past.
Simply put, if the Red Sox can’t get off to a good start this season, then this season is going to be tough to watch come summertime unless the top prospects are promoted.
The Red Sox have a distinct early season advantage; let’s see if they can take advantage of it.
You can reach Jonathan Cullen:
Twitter at jcullen71
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