Boston Red Sox fans have now determined that after five games, this A-Gone guy at first base is pretty good….
The 2011 season has not started swimmingly for the Boston Red Sox thus far, certainly not with the offensive explosion that had been hoped for. While the Texas Rangers have scored 21 runs in the first two games and have made the Sox pitching staff look like a beer league softball team, the Sox have not gotten the offensive explosive they would have hoped for.
However, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz have been the bright spots thus far for the Red Sox in their lineup. A-Gone is 5-9 in his first two games with three runs batted, and has looked very comfortable at the plate, apparently fully healed from the shoulder woes that led to offseason surgery.
Ditto for designated hitter David Ortiz. Big Papi, who didn’t homer last season until April 23 and had gotten off to terrible starts in both 2009 and 2010, has homered twice thus far. Saturday evening, Ortiz passed Seattle Mariners’ great Edgar Martinez as the all-time leader among designated hitters in runs batted in with 1,004.
“Well, that’s something when they mention your name with the caliber of Edgar Martinez and those guys, it makes you feel good,” Ortiz told MLB.com. “I’ve put a lot of hard work together. Those things, I don’t think about it right now while I’m playing. One day, I’ll sit down and look at it. Right now, I’ll focus on trying to win the game and keep on rolling that way.”
Jacoby Ellsbury has also been a bright spot for the Sox at the leadoff positon, hitting .375 with one homer, two runs batted in and a stolen base thus far.
At least Adrian Beltre won’t be around to fracture any more of Ellsbury’s ribs. However, Beltre did big time damage against the Sox last night, belting a grand-slam home run of John Lackey, who gave up nine runs on ten hits before departing in the fourth.
When Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein went to work this offseason to rebuild the Red Sox for the upcoming season, he had two major goals in mind: improve the offense and add pitching depth.
The end result is that the 2011 Boston Red Sox will arguably have the best 25-man roster in all of baseball.
There is only one goal for the Red Sox, and it’s the same goal each season: winning the World Series. After last year’s disappointing third place finish in the American League East, and having to fight through key injuries to over half of its starting lineup, the Sox and Epstein spend considerable dollars in the offseason, signing free agent left fielder Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million contract, and trading for the services of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who will be agreeing to a long term contract sometime after Opening Day.
Epstein also added depth in the bullpen, signing Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, Tampa Bay Rays reliever Dan Wheeler, and adding Matt Albers and Dennys Reyes, giving the bullpen a much needed lift after struggling in 2010.
Add to that the defense that Crawford and Gonzalez bring to their positions, and the 2011 Red Sox certainly look like a team that improved in all areas.
While the Philadelphia Phillies are the flavor of the month right now in terms of power rankings, one could easily argue that from one through 25, the Red Sox are deeper and have the parts in place to easily contend for the world championship once again.
Then again, the game of baseball is not played on paper.
When looking back at the 2010 season for the Boston Red Sox, it really is a wonder that they even won 89 games. Just a week into the season, they lost the services of leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury for virtually the entire season, and on June 25 sparkplug and fellow table setter Dustin Pedroia went down with a broken bone in his left foot. Aside from an attempted two-game comeback in August, Pedroia was lost for the season as well.
Losing the top of your batting order never bodes well, and despite the many different lineup combinations that Sox manager Terry Francona trotted out every day, the absence of both Ellsbury and Pedroia were without a doubt a major reason the Sox were unable to mount a playoff run.
This season, not only are both players back and completely healthy, but both are chomping at the bit to start playing games for real and show the world that newly acquired players Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzales won’t be the only weapons in the Red Sox offensive arsenal.
“I knew I had to put in a lot of work to get to where I’m at right now,” Ellsbury told Sean McAdam of CSNNE. “It was nice to just come into camp, ready to go. And it’s nice having good results early in camp, but my main thing is just seeing the ball.”
So far in Pedroia’s relatively short career, he has picked up Rookie of the Year and AL MVP trophies, three Silver Slugger awards and a Gold Glove. Pedroia has more walks (215) than strikeouts (184) during his career, which speaks directly to his ability to spoil good pitches and take advantage of mistakes.