5 Observations From the First Tenth of Boston Red Sox Season
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
There is a very Terry Francona-esque feeling going on with John Farrell and these 2013 Boston Red Sox so far this season. The way Farrell has managed the squad this season has been almost note perfect, allowing the players to focus on the field and none of the issues that were distractions last season under Bobby Valentine.
The Red Sox stand 12-4 through their first 16 games of the 2013 season, basically the 1/10th quarter poll of the schedule. It may be early, but there are many good things going on with this organization that indicate that this is going to be a good solid team this season while they continue to lead the AL East.
Boston has managed to withstand the Achilles' heel injury to David Ortiz and still compile a 11-4 record without his bat in the lineup. Ortiz's return to the lineup not only amplifies his place on the Red Sox, but his place in the city of Boston given the tragic events of this past week at the Boston Marathon.
Yesterday, the Red Sox organization celebrated the city of Boston and it's heroes in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The players have understood their role in this perfectly and unlike last season's team, have really managed to make the fans feel like they consider themselves to be Bostonians and one of them. Social media has really allowed the players to express support and their feeling through different outlets.
In a week, with so many distractions and so many things going on that are far more important then baseball, the Red Sox have managed to do what they need to do, winning games and playing intellegent baseball. It speaks volumes to the team's leadership that the team has yet to lose a game this week with the built in reasons that they would have had.
Jon Lester Has Been An Ace
Now, this is the Jon Lester that everyone expected the past couple of seasons. So far this season, Lester has been every bit the ace that the team has needed.
3-0 record with a 1.73 ERA through his first four starts this season. In the 26 innings that he has pitched, he has only walked four batters, a huge improvement over the prior three seasons where Lester averaged more than three walks per nine innings. He has also yet to give up a home run this season, a marked improvement over last year when he gave up 25 home runs.
Lester won't be this good all season, but it shows that he will be much improved.
Clay Buchholz Has Been Even Better
As good as Lester has been this season, Clay Buchholz has been even better. It is simply hard to explain how much better Buchholz looks under the supervision of John Farrell and Juan Nieves.
Buchholz's numbers are sterling, 4-0 record and a 0.90 ERA in his four starts. Buchholz already has 30 innings pitched, showing everyone that he can be more efficient with his pitches and pitch deeper into games.
Daniel Nava Has Been The Team's MVP So Far
On the offensive side of team, Daniel Nava has been the team's clear MVP so far, allowing the Red Sox to survive the early season injury to David Ortiz and the early season struggles of Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jonny Gomes.
Nava has four home runs and 14 runs driven in with a .342 average. He has greatly improved his defensive ability, giving the Red Sox options at first base and left field.
Alfredo Aceves Has Been a Solid Spot Starter
When John Lackey orginally got injured in his first start, it looked like the Red Sox were going to struggle for some time in the fifth spot in the rotation. Alfredo Aceves has given the team exactly what it needed, two starts, both lasting five innings, keeping his team in both starts. You can't ask for more from a spot starter.
Aceves has been trouble before and it is unlikely that he will make it through this season without another issue or two. But, he has allowed the Red Sox to avoid rushing any of their top prospects to the majors before they are ready.
Andrew Bailey Continues as a Heart Attack Closer
First, Joel Hanrahan and now Andrew Bailey. If you are looking for one thing that has gone wrong so far this season, it has been at the closer spot. Neither Hanrahan or Bailey instill much confidence when they come in.
Bailey was excellent setting up for Hanrahan, looking like the closer that he had been for the Oakland A's. Hanrahan struggled through the first two weeks of the season, with the Red Sox finally putting him on the DL with a hamstring issue. The Red Sox have to get this ironed out.
Outside of closing games and Andrew Miller's wildness, the bullpen has been excellent.