Monday, April 1, 2013

The FN Youth Board's 2013 Season Preview

by Nick Valeri, FN Youth Board Member

It's that time again. The days get longer, the sun gets stronger and the Monster Green is almost ready to go. Opening Day. Every year, we all have the same feeling: optimism. After Bobby V. put the cherry on top of the embarrassing sundae (featuring chicken and beer) last year, it's safe to say that was a season to forget. But This Opening Day brings much more than just the press of a refresh button. Gonzalez, Crawford, Beckett and Bobby are not walking through those dugout doors this season. John Farrell will walk through those doors with a team that he believes can take us to October baseball for the first time since 2009. And I believe in him. Yes, I also had faith in Valentine, but the front office has finally gotten the man they've been targeting for years to lead their clubhouse, and I think he will make a difference.

Farrell brings a much different attitude to the field than Valentine, and I feel he already connects with Boston fans more than Valentine even attempted last year. Take for example, Farrell's NESN spots. While his Christmas spot with Wally was a little cheesy, (see HERE), I took it as a sign of positivity. It's as if Farrell doesn't just want to fix the problems, he wants to do it for us, the fans. So far, I love Farrell and what he's been bringing this Spring.

Besides the hiring of the new skipper, the off-season moves were not like the sexy signings of the past. Instead, we are left with "What was that?" kind of moves. Victorino, Napoli and the Papi contract all fall into that category. I'm worried that Victorino and Napoli might not have been the right signings for that amount of money. Does Victorino have the energy to keep going? Should we be worried about Napoli's health? They're definitely not sexy stars like Gonzo and Carl, but overpaying average players is also a Dead End street. Hopefully, with the positive signs of Vicrorino's clubhouse leadership and Napoli's health (knock on wood), I can be proven wrong.

My biggest fear with any of these moves is David Ortiz. Finally, he gets the contract that he deserves, but his Achilles is starting to become something to be seriously concerned about. He is (so far) the only proven power threat in our lineup, and if Papi is out for an extended period of time in April, it could be very bad news.

My biggest surprise through the spring has been the starting rotation. Personally, I think they are better than most give them credit for. Do I think they are all Cy Young winners? Not exactly; but I do think they can get the job done for seven innings every night. What killed the team last year was how quick the bullpen was needed. If the starters do their job—led by Lester—the bullpen and rotation can come together like we expect them to.

In a tough AL East with a healthy Rays team and a bulked-up Jays team, Boston has to earn every win from the start. Nothing is ever guaranteed. But I will end on a tweet by none other than Dustin Pedroia, and if it doesn't give you that "Red Sox Chill", I don't know what will: "Only think I ask is U believe now! Don't jump on later. Boston doesn't have bandwagon fans!It's going to be special and we want the city to make a huge advantage all year for us. Get loud! Thx everyone! Let's go!"

Let's go. Go sox.