Optimism vs Pessimism

By Chris Cue
Feb. 07, 2011

     Football is OVAH and now all eyes in New England will turn to the Sawx. So, how does this version of the Old Town Team stand up? You’re sure to hear two schools of thought on this….maybe even a third, but for the sake of addressing the extremes (which is pretty much the nature of things surrounding this team), let’s take a look at the positive point of view and then counter that with an equal amount of negativism just to keep things *balanced.

     (*- “balance” refers to what you’re likely to hear from the vocal minority which resides on either side of this fence. The truth be told, the majority of this fan base occupies that third point of view mentioned earlier. That point of view recognizes that not all things are going to be peaches and cream, nor does it expect everything to do with the team will be flushed down the Charles river by August.)

     The optimist says, “Man, the Sox are loaded. We have Agon. We have Crawford. We’ve got a healthy Pedroia, Youkilis & Ellsbury coming back. Our bullpen has Jenks, Wheeler, Bard and not to mention a closer in Papelbon who we know is going to perform in a walk year. We also have help in that department ready and waiting in the minors with Doubront,
Bowden, Coello, Tazawa and even Pimentel not to mention all the guys
getting spring training invites with minor league deals attached to
their contracts. Our starting pitching can’t be touched in the AL East. Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Lackey and Matsuzaka have to be considered the rotation to beat in this division. Our starting pitching is 8 men deep with Wakefield, Doubront and Bowden ready to go if needed.

     We have positional depth just in case one of the regular guys gets hurt. We’re not talking about warm bodies that can just fill in, we’re talking about guys that can not only fill in, but also perform at a high level. Our outfield depth consists of Cameron, McDonald and even Ryan Kalish who’s expected to be getting ready in Pawtucket next season. We have the infield covered with Jed Lowrie and a veteran backup catcher with Jason Varitek.

     I just don’t see how this team can be anything except the favorites to win the division this year.”

     The pessimist says, “Pedroia say’s his foot is still giving him issues. Ellsbury has to be rusty having not really played in almost a year….let alone the questions about if he’s tough enough to play the whole year. Youkilis is moving across the diamond to a postion he hasn’t played on a regular basis since 2009. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has yet to have a full season in the majors. Heck, last year he had problems throwing the ball back to the pitcher never mind throwing anyone out at second base and he’s our starting catcher?  What if he doesn’t cut it? Are we going to have to rely on Varitek’s bat to produce? Geez, Adrian Gonzalez is coming off shoulder surgery and even JD Drew has already started to complain that his hamstring is still giving him problems.

     Our Pitching? Don’t even get me started. Outside of Lester, who do we really have that we can count on? Sure, Buccholz had a fine season last year. Do you really think he’s going to be able to repeat that again this year and go a full season with an ERA under 3.00? What about Beckett? He had a horrible season last year as did John Lackey for what we’re paying them. Matsuzaka?……Please. I’m willing to bet I’ll be able to count the number of games he makes it to the 7th inning on one hand this year. While I do like some of the guys we picked up for the bullpen, if anyone thinks that what we have out there compares to what the Yankees have, you’re nuts!

     I’m sorry, I’d love to be wrong, but considering all of that I’m just hoping we’ll be able to grab the Wild Card this year.”

     So, who’s right and who’s wrong? Suffice it to say, there are definitely things to be encouraged about. There is also an number of things that should give you some pause before you crown this years team the winners of anything.

     The humorous aspect to this whole debate is that this year really isn’t any different than recent years past. There are questions that need to be answered and there are any number of things you can feel safe with when it comes to expectations. But this year, just like years past…..the Red Sox have to play the games. All 162 of them. If you’re looking for one thing that you can be assured of it’s this……The team that starts on opening day will look different from the one you’ll see in September. Just keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t look TOO different. If we can make it all the way to October with the majority of the team intact, that will mean our guys have remained healthy. Don’t let anyone fool you because if there is one very important key to success, that one would be the most basic.

Cheers and Go Sox!



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