Monday, April 13, 2015

So Where Does Boston Stand After a Week?

Baseball, to borrow an old saying, is a journey, not a sprint. Its 162-game season is, by far, the longest of any major professional sport. We are not even five percent of the way through the 2015 season.

This is a somewhat roundabout way of saying everyone needs to chill out about Buchholz's horrible performance last night in New York. It was ugly and brutal, and without any redeeming qualities.

It was also only his second start of the year. It's hard to predict where a pitcher will be at year's end from their first two starts. It's kind of crazy to try.

That said, it was a brutal performance. And because of what has happened in the past, people are going to immediately question Buchholz. But Sox fans really need to wait for a couple of more starts before they start bringing the pitchforks to Fenway.

Of course, the idea of patience cuts both ways. So it is also too early to celebrate how solid Robbie Ross has been in relief. Or how solid both Masterson and Joe Kelly were in their season debuts. But every Boston fan hopes those trends continue.

With hitting it feels like it is easier to draw conclusions six games into the season because your average batter gets 3-5 appearances per game. But if you figure maybe 550 AB / 610 PA as a seasonal average, the player with the most at-bats for Boston (Pablo Sandoval) has been in one-half of one percent of his likely plate appearances / at-bats for 2015.

It's early. That said, it's hard not to be excited for Xander Bogaerts and his .985 OPS, or for Hanley Ramirez closing in on 10 RBI. Ryan Hanigan can't hit the ball to save his life, but he is a walk machine and his .364 OBP is second-best for any regular starter on the team.

But there are worrisome notes as well. David Ortiz looks decidedly human thus far with a .520 OPS. Some may think his self-inflicted controversies in the off-season are playing a role. But it is likely just that Father Time is starting to catch up to Big Papi. No one can be a killer at the plate their entire career unless you're Ted Williams.

But the one that really bothers me is Shane Victorino. I was not a fan of Rusney Castillo going down to Pawtucket and this scenario was the primary reason for my reluctance. If you start Victorino, be it because of veteran loyalty or you are "window-shopping" him, and he bombs...what have you accomplished? Oh, besides getting Castillo hurt? Meanwhile, Victorino has a .388 OPS and looks his age. Not a shining moment for Boston management.

Overall, though, the Sox (for now) sit atop the AL East about four percent of the way into the season. Celebrate, Boston fans. Last year at this time, Boston was 2-4 and Lester was 0-2 on the season.

It's a journey.

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