*These are my thoughts, gut feelings and opinions, so feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.
1. When talking about the Red Sox right now how could we start with anything but the starting pitchers. Look, they've been bad (they have the worst era in the AL), but have they really been as bad as people are making it out to be? Let's take a look, again not a lot of stats here, but just some thoughts from a guy that hasn't missed a game yet this year. We are exactly four trips through the rotation with 20 games being played and each guy has made four starts.
Clay Buchholz- 3 out of his 4 starts have been acceptable. His stats are greatly skewed by the 10 runs he gave up at New York. With the exception of '13 Clay is typically a slow starter and he gets better as the weather gets warmer. I feel like an OK to good start will allow him to only get better as the season goes on. Even if he takes his annual 15 day stint on the DL. A good start tonight would be big for Clay. So far he's been very good against the Phillies and Rays, two of the worst offensive teams in baseball. The Blue Jays lineup is as good if not better than the Orioles, against which Clay was OK. My head tells me that tonight is going to be a bad matchup for Clay, but my heart says he has 7 innings with 3 runs or less in him tonight, and that would be a great jump off going into May for Clay.
Rick Porcello- The contract extension that he signed right before the season will work against him all season long, he might as well change his first name to "20 million dollar pitcher". Rick has also had one very bad start that has swayed his stats. His five inning 8 run performance vs. the Orioles. His other three starts have been as advertised. He's also the only starter to go 8 innings in a game so far this year. Yes his 6 home runs allowed to start the season are a lot, but he's also notorious for having bad April's. This April it looks like he's overthrowing a little bit, once he gets into the rhythm of the season we should see his sinkerball start to take over.
Justin Masterson- People have been quick to bury him, again because of one bad start. Hello broken record. His 4.2 inning 7 run performance has hurt his stats, but he's given up 3 runs or less in his 3 other starts. Plus, he went 7 innings last time out which has been a hurdle for the staff so far. People have to remember that he's a bounce back candidate who had an awful year last year. He's not the guy who left here in '09.
Wade Miley- The one bad start defense will not hold water here. He's had two absolute disasters. And even in his two best starts he only lasted 5.1 and 5.2 innings. He needs to be better no question. He needs to bear down and compete when he gets into jams and I for one think that he will. This guy has a track record of pitching 200+ innings. He'll get things straightened out. Why? Because my AL only fantasy league team needs him to that's why...
Joe Kelly- Let the broken record one bad performance defense cue itself back up again...And here we go... Joe's one bad start was not nearly as bad as the others, but it was the circumstances that made it look bad. He blew a 4 run lead in a game that appeared like it was going to be an easy win for the Sox. Partly because some of the people that follow the team had already anointed him the ace after one very good start and another decent start. Then in his third start he was cruising with a 5-1 lead and then melted down in the 6th inning and couldn't record an out. Kelly has the best stuff on the staff and thus has the potential to be a front of the rotation starter, so those raised expectations have made some people feel that he's been a disappointment so far. Not me. His top 3 strikeout games were 10, 8 and 7. That tells you his stuff has been good. He just needs to get some consistency and stay healthy.
People just need to back away from the bridge and relax. The starting rotation will be fine. All they need is one good trip through the rotation and a 3-4 game winning streak and everything will start to click. Is there an ace? NO! Do they need an ace in this
2. The bullpen has actually been pretty good. Certainly better than I expected. Ogando is finding a good middle relief role. Taz and Koji have been pretty good (again don't expect to see '13 Koji, in fact don't expect to see anyone have another historic season like that ever...for any team).
The one complaint I have with the bullpen is I'd like to see them pick up their starters once and a while. It seems like they just can't stop the bleeding whenever they come into jam. Which is not an easy job, but it can be done. This is where the lack of strikeout guys in the bullpen comes into play. The starters bad era has been hurt somewhat by the bullpens inability to come in and escape jams. If the starters and the bullpen get in sync this team could get on a roll.
3. Are the Red Sox going to reunite with Papelbon or Saltalammacchia? NO and HELL NO!! Although we here at redsoxmaineiacs.com love us some Salty Dog
4. Boy didn't the Red Sox get out of Baltimore just in the nick of time. It's awful what's going on there. Here's to hoping that things get under control soon and they can start playing baseball there again.
5. Depth. People (when I refer to people I'm mostly talking about Felger and Mazz, or people that call into their show) want to know what the Red Sox can do to win the AL east. Because what they're doing through twenty games certainly isn't good enough (that's the people talking, not me). Just remember that one of the major strengths of this team is it's depth and it takes more than twenty games for that depth to make an impact. This team is deep at the major league level, on their bench (hellooooo Brock Holt looking at you kid), but they're also deep at Pawtucket. There will be 2-4 players throughout the year that will get called up to Boston and give the big club a major lift over a one to two week period or maybe longer. Who will it be you ask? Well if we knew it wouldn't be as exciting when it happens, but here's my best guesses: the obvious one is Rusney Castillo, so I'll pick three more. I also think Garin Cecchini, Jackie Bradley Jr and Henry Owens will make some big contributions. Owens will need to be put on the 40 man roster.
Edit (6:55pm) Well this was well timed Here's what Benny C had to say about it today on NESN
6. Brock Holt gets the start in RF again tonight (he didn't finish there last night) here's to hoping that he becomes at least something close to the every day RF.
7. Pablo Sandoval is back in the lineup tonight after suffering whiplash like symptoms in that panda crash with the Fenway lawn last night. Yikes. The Panda might have gotten whiplash, but the lawn has a huge dent in it. Can he keep his home run streak alive and hit one for the third game in a row? Take it to the bank!
8. Will the Red Sox trade for an ace? Yes, but with a caveat. Only if the Washington Nationals continue to fold and find themselves out of the race. Those two teams seem to match up well. Unlike any team trying to match up to make a trade with Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies. Cole Hamels will not be coming to Boston, but in the previous scenario I could see either Jordan Zimmerman (FA to be, so he would cost you less in theory), Stephen Strasburg (He'd cost you more in the way of prospects and money) or a name that's been talked about much less perhaps Gio Gonzalez coming to Boston in July...or August.
If you want the Red Sox to trade for an ace keep rooting against the Nationals.