After three games here is what I think is real and what still remains to be seen.
- Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz will thrive under Juan Nieves and John Farrell
- The Red Sox defense is greatly improve (but will that change when Jose Iglesias gets send down and if Jackie Bradley Jr. gets sent down?) Even if they do at least they have a catcher who can throw out runners and a RF who can do the same.
- The Red Sox will be aggressive on the basepaths and be able to "create" more runs than year's past.
- This team's "chemistry" is real. The work that Ben Cherington and his staff did to find player's who have great character is paying off and will continue to pay off.
- The bullpen will be a strength, maybe even more than we thought, if that's possible.
- This coaching staff is the best the Red Sox have had since 2007.
- The Red Sox need to stay healthy and they need to get Big Papi back to 100%. The line up is really lacking pop. I think they will hit for more power once the weather warms up, but they miss David Ortiz's big left handed power bat.
- A lot of players, coaches and front office personnel around this team have a lot to "prove". This means we will see a motivated team all year long.
- Jonny Gomes is going to be the next Kevin Millar.
Remains to be seen:
- The starting pitchers besides Lester and Buchholz. Dempster was Ok but not great last night. He still has to prove he can pitch in the AL. Lackey needs to prove he's healthy and Doubront needs to avoid the sophomore slump.
- The offense needs to show that they can make the other teams starting pitcher work and drive up their pitch count. They were able to do that vs. Sabathia, but not against Pettite. The potential is there, but there are also a lot of free swingers on this team.
- The offense needs to show that they can avoid long slumps. The last two years they have been prone to long droughts.
- Will Middlebrooks still needs to prove that he can be a #5 hitter and not a #7 hitter.
- Jacoby Ellsbury needs to stay healthy and he needs to be consistent. He doesn't have to match 2011 power numbers but he needs to be an on base machine.
- Will Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli produce enough to be able to fill the roles that they were signed to fill.
- Jackie Bradley Jr. Such an interesting situation. His defense alone has been worth putting him on the team, but so far his offense has been a much needed spark. Can he keep it up? Will he get sent down when Papi is healthy? Stay tuned.
- Will Jose Iglesias continue to hit like he has in the first 3 games? Whether he is with Boston or Pawtucket he needs to show that he can maintain this approach for a whole season. Obviously he'll still have his slumps, but if he continues to make solid contact and mix in some small ball. He will be the starting SS sooner rather than later.
We will continue to learn more about this team with each game and with all these story lines I for one can't wait to see the answers. This first Toronto series will go a long way in determining if New York is really awful or if Boston really has improved. If they come home with a 5-1 or 4-2 record that will be very encouraging. 3-3 is acceptable, but if they come home 2-4 we will still have a lot of questions unanswered.