Thursday, April 2, 2015

Top 5 Reasons To Be Cautious About Red Sox

Virtually everybody is picking Boston to win the AL East. Most of the gambling denizens have already awarded them the AL pennant. They're all expecting Max Scherzer versus Clay Buchholz (gulp!) in Game One of the 2015 World Series. Well, sports fans, let's not start popping the champagne corks quite yet. It's time to introduce some realism into the debate about your 2015 Carmine Hose. Herewith, the Top Five Reasons To Be Cautious About The Red Sox (in no particular order):

1.) Injuries, Injuries, Injuries. Already, the team will open the season without their 40-year old closer (Koji Uehara) or their 24-year old defensive whiz starting catcher (Christian Vazquez). Moreover, there are serious question marks about the health of their "Number Four" starter (Joe Kelly). Add into this depressing mix the fact that Shane Victorino (age 34) and Hanley Ramirez (age 31) played in a combined 158 games last year due to various injuries. And, let's not even talk about the frailty of "Ace" Buchholz;

2.) Rotation, Rotation, Rotation. Let's face it, we do have five number three starters and no ace. All pretty good, none exceptional. With our re-vamped offense, we might squeak into the post-season with this crew. But once we get there, there is no "stopper" to confidently turn to in a big playoff situation;

3.) History, History, History. Following the Boston Red Sox is nothing if not a macabre obsession with the past. Let's look at the last four roller-coaster seasons: 2011 was a monumental collapse at the end; 2012 was Bobby Valentine's Magical Mystery Tour to the cellar; 2013 was a World Championship that we still can't figure out; 2014 was a return trip to the cellar (with 71 wins). And from this, we're supposed to discern some predictable pattern? How about this for a pattern—50% of the time in the recent past we've stunk so badly that we finished last? It seems like we miss the playoffs more often than we win World Championships;

4.) Will The New 'Kids' Be Alright? Last year, the organization handed over third base, shortstop and center field to untested young players. It failed. This year, we are trusting fewer kids—with the exception of the amazing Mookie Betts—but are still heading into some uncharted waters with older players. Can Ramirez really play left field? Can Pablo Sandoval contribute enough during the regular season (he never really has) to justify his signing?

5.) The AL East Isn't As Bad As We Think. A lot of the prognostications of Red Sox success are based on the notion that the AL East stinks—and we just stink a little less. Most projections put Boston at 86 wins—not exactly a juggernaut. But are our rivals really that bad? I would take Baltimore's young, accomplished rotation straight up against ours in a heartbeat. And is our re-tooled offense really better than the Murderers' Row North in Toronto? Even The Bronx Embalmers could contend —if everything fell the right way for them.

Take your pick of the biggest reason to be cautious, but enter this season with your eyes wide open.