10 Games in: Ten things we've learned about the 2013 Boston Red Sox

We are only ten games into the 2013 Spring Training season, and hundreds of questions still linger. The good news, however, is that this year's Red Sox team started with thousands of questions, so the team is slowly beginning to look towards April. Here are ten things that we, the Red Sox fans, have learned about our 2013 Boston Red Sox:

1) The Dodgers-Red Sox trade in 2012 looks like it favored Boston.
Overall, some big names left Boston last season. The Red Sox traded Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett (and their $260 million dollars in salaries) and were essentially able to press the reset button on their Xbox. Getting minor league pitching is always a question mark, but so far, pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster look great. Meanwhile, Crawford is injured again and may not start the season.

2) David Ortiz may not ever be 100% this season. After spending the off season resting his injured Achilles tendon, Big Papi is still complaining of an injured ankle that he hurt while trotting around the bases last year. I mentioned in an earlier article that the Red Sox will need Ortiz to be healthy this season and produce 35 HRs and 100+ RBIs (click here for the article) in order for the Red Sox to content this season, so this news is not favorable for the home team.

3) There are many options at first base.
Now that is seems Mike Napoli is healthy, and Lyle Overbay, Mike Carp and Daniel Nava are all taking reps at first base, there seem to be too many people for the small white base. Look for the Red Sox to make a move before March 27th (when Overbay can opt out of his Minor League contract).

4) Jackie Bradley can flat out play. I first mentioned Bradley when I was lucky enough to interview him in Pawtucket (see interview here) and had been lucky enough to follow him in college. He has been successful everywhere he has played (college, Team USA and the minors), so it is no surpise that he is doing well. He has done so well that reports are saying that he may make the roster for opening day. It is doubtful though because of arbitration (read here for more on that). Still, he leads all Red Sox players in hits this Spring, and plays the outfield like John Bonham plays the drums. MEAN.

5) John Farrell was a good choice. So far, the management seems to be the right one for this team. Last year, players were griping during Spring Training and the manager was like a song bird, telling the media everything, which of course led to a miserable season. Farrell has the respect of the pitchers, and has done a nice job keeping things in house so far. Even the spat with Alfredo Aceves has gone smoothly, as Farrell took care of it on the diamond, in front of everyone, to set the tone (see more about that here).

6) The sell-out streak is finally going to end. It was great to be a fan during the Fenway Park sellout streak; the stadium was always packed, there was a buzz in the air, and everyone loved talking Boston. But for the last couple of years, with the team not doing as well, we all noticed less butts in the seats. The Red Sox front office swore that games were selling out, but the real fans knew better. It was announced by Larry Lucchino last month that the sellout streak may end as early as this April. After 793 Fenway Park games sold out in a row, which is almost ten years of baseball, it will be good to be able to buy a ticket at the box office now, without having to wait in the virtual waiting room for 8 hours on a Saturday. Tragic.

7) They need Will Middlebrooks more than they thought. Think about where you were when you heard Middlebrooks held up on a swing and slammed his bat down in pain last week. All of Red Sox Nation was talking about it, and for two days, we all held our breath, thinking that he re-injured his wrist. Yeah, the same one that kept him out of the second half of 2012. I got the text from my brother and my hands went numb. Without Middlebrooks, Papi has very little power protection. Quick, think of who can effectively replace him at third base. Give up? Pedro Ciriaco... IF he makes the team. Yeah, they will need Middlebrooks this season.

8) The Bullpen could be tops in the majors. Good relief pitching wins close games. And with possibly one of the weaker power hitting teams in the AL this season, the Red Sox will be tied in the 7th inning many times. When the game is on the line, I feel confident that Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller and Joel Hanrahan will be a very strong group of relievers this Summer. If Daniel Bard returns to form as he was in 2010 and 2011, this could be an elite group.

9) Spring Training wins and losses mean nothing. After ten games, the Red Sox are 5-5. What does that tell us? Nothing. Consider this: three of the four best spring-training records since then belonged to the 1999 Royals (22-9), the 1999 Dodgers (21-9), and 2002 Orioles (20-9). All of those teams went on to finish below .500 during the regular season. Last year's Red Sox started off the 2012 Spring Training season 3-0. And what happened last year? No, seriously, I forgot.

10) Someone will step up their game and be the hero, and you will buy their jersey. You know how it is. You go to Fenway Park, it's the 9th inning and a nobody has a game winning smash. Fans empty out of the friendly confines and rush to the nearest store to buy that player's jersey shirt. My little cousin Stevie, who lives in South Boston, is known for this.
In 2003, David Ortiz went from a no one to hitting 31 HRs in basically half a season. He took over for the injured Jeremy Giambi. That year, another virtually unknown Red Sox player, Bill Mueller, won the batting title with a .326 average. In 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury led the Red Sox in homeruns with 32. He only has 56 dingers total in his 6 year career. Look it up. Bottom line is, strange things happen. Players will step up in Boston and we will love them for it. It's time for the 2013 season. Who will step it up so my cousin Stevie will buy their jersey-shirt?

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