I watched part of the RedSox-yankees opener this morning and have had the Dodgers-Giants game on this after noon. A few random thoughts as the season starts:
I think the Red Sox will be vastly improved and give the Rays a run for the AL East title. Their offense should be better than last year so long as key guys Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Wil Middlebrooks, and David Ortiz stay healthy. Of course, Ortiz started the season on the DL. Mike Napoli should be a big offensive addition, but whether or not Shane Victorino can be an asset remains to be seen, especially following his horrendous 50 games in LA last year.
But, the reason the BoSox will be vastly improved is pitching. They’ve overhauled their arson squad of a bullpen, adding an actual closer in Joel Hanrahan, adding a solid set-up guy in Koji Uehara, and relegating last year’s disaster Alfredo Aceves to the end of the bench. But it is the starting staff where it should be night and day. Gone are Aaron Cook (4-11, 5.65), Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-7, 8.28), and Daniel Bard (6-6. 6.22). To a healthy Jon Lester and a healthy Clay Buchholz, they’ve added Ryan Dempster, and have a now surgically repaired and rejuvenated stud in John Lachey. I expect him to have a monster comeback.
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|Before the Dodgers’ opener, there were unbelievable opening ceremonies at Dodgers’ Stadium. After Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, Tommy Lasorda, and Oral Hersheisher were introduced, Magic Johnson took the mound to throw out the first pitch, but empty uniform mattingly came out and brought in a lefty reliever to make the pitch: SANDY KOUFAX!!! What a moment. I wish I had been there not just watching on TV.
As far as the team is concerned, the empty suit made a couple of final moves, one good, one bad. Carl
Crawford has convinced him he is healthy enough to play, and started the season leading off and in left field. Hopefully, Yasiel Puig will follow his monster spring with a fast start in the minors, and get to LA and left field soon. Crawford has yet to have to make a key play in left or to try to actually throw the ball, so whether or not he is actually able to play in left is yet to be determined. He did run them out of a potential rally be getting caught stealing at third with two on and a 3-0 count on the batter. I do like leaving Luis Cruz at third and inserting Justin Sellers at short while Hanley Ramirez is out, rather than moving Cruz to shot and using Juan Uribe at third.
One other game requires comment: Washington defeated Miami 2-0 today, with Stephen Strasburg pitching seven shutout innings, and with Bryce Harper hitting two home runs. We’ll be seeing a lot of that this year, as the Nationals march to the World Series.