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I hope that I’ve been able to convey to you a certain degree of cynical optimism regarding the Red Sox chances this season. My optimism is based largely on two factors; namely a core of outstanding young players, and the fact that president Dave Drombrowski’s mission is to not let them fail again. My cynicism stems from the questions that still linger around the starting pitching. I believe I’ve made it clear that my expectation is for them to be configured significantly different by the middle of the summer then they were at the end of spring training. But even having said all that, I was still taken by surprise by the quickness that changes have been made.

 

For one thing, when last we talked I knew that both left handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez and right handed reliever Carson Smith were handed for the disabled list. Perhaps not necessarily big news at first, but Rodriguez went from only needing a few days of rest to overcome a “tweaked” knee to  maybe not being ready until late May or possibly early June. No time table as been set up for Smith’s return, but it appears that it won’t be until after the Sox face Toronto and Baltimore in early season match ups. As both teams are strong hitting divisional rivals, his presence could be helpful. Given the uneven springs that starting pitchers Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello had, having a ready to go Rodriguez would have made everyone feel better about opening the season. I am operating under the assumption that the seven straight wins Joe Kelly had last August, along with a strong spring training, means that he is finally someone to be counted on in the rotation. I guess we will find out soon enough.

 

CRITICAL DIFFERENCE:

 

 

It didn’t take John Farrell long to figure out that the Sox were a better team without 3B Pablo Sandoval and LF Rusney Castillo in the starting lineup. Both of them had what can be best described as disappointing  springs. Although Sandoval had some pop in his swing, including from the right side, his weight continued to be a problem, effecting the rest of his game. The 28 year old Castillo has begun to look like the baseball equivalent of Mike Mamula, aka “workout warrior”, as he has shown little to prove he is worth the $72 million Boston gave him based on how he performed in workouts. After not breaking .200 in Florida, he is likely headed for AAA Pawtucket for an extended stay. In their places the Sox will feature Travis Shaw at third and a combination of Brock Holt and Chris Young in left. Seeing as Hanley Ramirez has looked rather comfortable at first, don’t be surprise if Shaw stays at third and Sandoval ends up in San Diego.

 

CRITICAL WIN:

 

I’m sure that it was an April Fool’s Day present that the GS Warriors were not anticipating, nor do I expect was anyone else, but the Celtics’ 109-106 victory certainly was a stunner to say the least. Not only was it only the eighth time all season that the Warriors had been defeated, it was the first time they lost at home in 54 games. Furthermore, the fact that the C’s did it without the injured  small forward, Jae Crowder (31.9 min, 14.5 ppg, 3.4reb, 68 GP) really came as a surprise to many Celtics’ fans.

 

What was not a surprise was that they were once again led by guard Isaiah Thomas, 22 points and 6 assists in 33 minutes, and Evan Turner‘s 21 points and 5 assists in 37 minutes. In addition to turning in his usual stellar defensive effort, this time against Klay Thompson, helping to hold him to 15 rather than the 22.8 he usually averages, Avery Bradley contributed, in 35 minutes, 15 points of his own. As big a win as this was, no one is predicting that the C’s are going to get by Cleveland in the East and then knock off either Golden State, or whoever else might win the West. But it certainly made things interesting, and revised the hope that the Celtics may only be a move or two away from being legitimate challengers once again.

 

Stay tuned…

Jerry Ballgame

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

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