Before the Toronto series we broke down a few of the questions that were already answered and some that still needed to be answered here. We'll follow the same, what's real and what's a mirage format here. Keep in mind that the key to any baseball season is how a team responds to challenges that come up during the course of the season, because they are bound to come up on nearly a daily basis (hello John Lackey injury).
- Jon Lester backed up a decent performance on opening day with an outstanding performance today. Tomorrow is Clay Buchholz turn for the home opener. We are still confident that Lester and Buchholz will thrive under Juan Nieves and John Farrell.
- The Red Sox have still not committed an error on the season. The defense seems to be a strong suit. The question is will that continue to be an emphasis or will Jose Iglesias and Jackie Bradley Jr. be sent down by the end of April. (JBJr is already starting to show signs of being overmatched)
- The Red Sox continue to be aggressive on the basepaths. I love the way they are rounding bases hard. That will put them into a position to take advantage of any defensive miscues by the opponent.
- The team chemistry is very real and getting more real by the game. Never was that more apparent then when Koji Uehera came off the field on Friday night. I'll let Obnoxious Boston Fan break it down for you
- The back end of the bullpen has been outstanding so far. The long guys, Alfredo Aceves and Clayton Mortensen have shown some cracks. If Lackey goes on the DL and Aceves goes into the rotation it will be interesting to see who gets called into the bullpen. Will it be Daniel Bard or Alex Wilson?
- This coaching staff got the last laugh in Toronto this weekend but stay tuned...
- It is true that they miss Big Papi, but the idea that the line up doesn't have any pop without him got blown out of the water in Toronto today. Will Middlebrooks hit 3 homers, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava and Jacoby Ellsbury all homered as well. The Red Sox also had numerous other flyballs to the warning track. Plenty of pop today!
- A 4-2 start isn't going to put an end to 1+ year of poor baseball. This team still has a lot to prove and plenty of motivation.
- Jonny Gomes didn't play a lot this weekend, but the Millar comparison is a good one (that loud noise you hear is me patting myself on the back). Gomes drew a pinch hit 8th inning walk on Friday night that lead to the go ahead run a la Kevin Millar in 2004 ALCS (minus the pinch hit part). The real highlight of his weekend though was highlighted above by OBF (here it is again in case you missed it). The look on his face as Uehera came into the dugout was priceless. He's going to do wonders for the Sox clubhouse just like Kevin Millar did.
Let's see if any of our questions got answered over the weekend: I'll put a * next to any that I would move into the category above.
- The number 3-5 starters still are a question mark. Maybe even more so with the Lackey injury. Even if it is not as serious as it looked they will be conservative with him because of his injury history. My guess is he'll be out 4 weeks minimum probably more like 6-8 when you factor in rehab time. Doubront was decent, but he needs to prove that he can get deeper into games.
- * After scoring 13 runs today there's not much to complain about with the offense. I just need to accept that some nights the opposing pitcher is going to get the better of us, but this team is going to score plenty of runs.
- Offensive consistency is one area that will take longer to get an answer on obviously. That's why the Red Sox may be on to something with run prevention and that's where Iglesias and JBJr come in. Will this team lose its mojo if these guys are sent down?? (see what I did there...new question)
- * Here's the original statement "Will Middlebrooks needs to prove that he is a #5 hitter not a #7 hitter" I'll pause while you laugh your ass off. After a 3 homer game, nearly a four homer game, and shaking off an 0-8 start. This question has been answered.
- * Jacoby Ellsbury continued to get on base and also showed a little pop this weekend. His evidence may not be as strong as Middlebrooks, but he's no longer a question mark in my book.
- I'm going to hold off on moving these guys into the real category, but Napoli went deep again today and Victorino continues to impress as well. Very encouraging.
- and 8. These may be the two most interesting questions surrounding the Sox right now. Due to weather Stephen Drew hasn't got enough at bats with the Sea Dogs yet to be ready for the big leagues so he won't be up until Wednesday at the earliest. I say good, the Boston fans deserve to see Iglesias at least for a couple of games, if not longer, with the way he is playing right now. The question I ask you Red Sox fans is should Iglesias be the full-time SS in 2013? As for JBJr I think it's becoming more obvious by the day that he is over matched at the plate in the big leagues (for now, not forever). So when Big Papi is due to come off the DL which could be as early as April 17th, according to Pete Abraham, I think it will be obvious that JBJr should be sent down. But this is not an indictment of the decision to keep him to start the year. With Ortiz out he was one of the best 25 players to start the season and Yankee Stadium and Rogers Centre called for a good defensive left fielder. JBJr has helped the Sox get off to a 4-2 start so it has been a successful decision. He also has a solid OBP despite hitting under .200 through 6 games. Perhaps he would benefit from just having a day off or perhaps he just isn't ready for the big leagues on a permanent basis. That's OK too. The Red Sox like their prospects to have to go through adversity. I'm not sure that JBJr would have gotten that adversity in AA or AAA. So the last part of his development may be for him to go back to AAA and rebuild his confidence and work his way back to the big leagues for good. What are your thoughts on JBJr? Should he stay up as a part of a run prevention/defensive approach or should the proven big leaguers take over when Big Papi gets back from the DL?
The Red Sox are returning home at 4-2 and optimism may be at a 19 month high. One thing is for certain this team is going to be much easier to root for than the Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford Red Sox. The fast start that they've gotten off to puts them in a position to have a good season. Here is a look at Deacon's keys to a fast start. Now that the Red Sox have gotten off to a fast start take a look and see how well we did at predicting the factors for a fast start.
As always leave your thoughts in the comments section.