Bleacher Tweets: Transitions, starting pitching, the bullpen and is Boston really this good?

Art Work By: Sam Galanis
Scott Levesque
Managing Editor

Welcome, RedSoxLifers/Nation, to the first edition of Bleacher Tweets. BTweets is a weekly column dedicated to you, the Red Sox fan. This is your opportunity to ask questions, vent frustrations or ponder the "What If's" of the current Red Sox season through the all great and powerful Twittersphere.

If you have a question/s you want to ask then send a tweet to @scottlevesque ending with #BleacherTweets. Who knows, you might see it next week on RedSoxLife.

Seriously, you know you want to...

@sachemwolf - @scottlevesque I think 3rd base needs stronger coverage Your thoughts please, I do like WM. #BleacherTweets

Look, I get it. We're all concerned about the lack of offensive production from Middlebrooks so far this season. However, before we pull the, "We need to start looking for a new third baseman" card let's remember that this is his first FULL season as a Red Sox player - let alone a starter.

Unfortunately Middlebrooks is a victim of his own success and from the start of the 2013 season many had high expectations for the young third baseman. Let's give credit where credit is due. While Middlebrooks may have cooled off considerably since 2012, he has made strides in becoming a vocal leader (and the face) of this Red Sox team. Let's give him time to settle in and push through this current slump. If things haven't turned around by the mid-June, then we can talk about possible changes to the lineup. 

Even though I believe this question has some condescension (and a little bit of sarcasm) behind it I'm inclined to agree with you. The Red Sox are awesome and they've made an incredible turnout from the 2012 season. The question moving forward is this: Will the Red Sox be able to maintain their high level of play throughout the season and possibly the playoffs?

Currently all the signs are pointing to yes, but that doesn't make this 2013 team a lock for the playoffs. The Sox are struggling with injuries right now and if that continues it's going to create a lot of problems for them down the stretch - especially in the bullpen where the greatest number of injuries have taken place.

@CARDSALLDAY26 - @scottlevesque Who is missed the most, if any, between Crawford, Gonzo or Beckett to #RedSox Nation? #BleacherTweets

An interesting question and one that's difficult to answer. Currently both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are leading the Dodgers in five major statistical categories: Batting average, home runs, steals, on-base percentage and hits. However, both have been riddled with injuries and the Dodgers are currently sitting in last place in the NL West division - we call this irony.

As we focus our attention to the pitching side of the trade it's clear that the Red Sox knew Beckett was on his last legs as an "Ace" starter. Need proof? This season Beckett is 0-4 with a 5.24 ERA. He's allowed 20 earned runs in 34.1 innings pitched. So to finally answer your question, I'd say we miss them as much as a poopy flavored lollipop.

@SamDFriedman - @scottlevesque Did anyone expect the transition from last year to this year would be so easy? #BleacherTweets 

Let's be honest for a moment here. There's no way anyone could have predicted that the Red Sox would've gone from worst to first in only a year's time. If someone had alluded to the fact that they saw this coming, they're either lying or a prophet - I tend to lean towards the former rather than the latter. It's not rocket science to think that this team was going to have a better season, but there's no way anyone could have predicted this furious start.

@lynnanneclark - @scottlevesque Were the new players picked any differently then season's past? Were they matched by playing skills and demeanor?  #BleacherTweets 

I'm assuming you're asking about the Red Sox offseason acquisitions and trades. If that's the case then I'd have to say the Red Sox upper management were looking to swing as far away from the 2012 season as possible. The Sox were looking for solid clubhouse players who could fill a role rather than a paycheck. Players like Gomes, Victorino and Drew are known for their ability to lead both on and off the field - a trait the 2012 Red Sox desperately needed. 

In the end the Red Sox chose to bring in players to create, what I believe is, the same feel as the 2004 World Championship team had going - just a bunch of idiots.    

@realOBF - @scottlevesque Which former Red Sox reliever does Joel Hanrahan most resemble: Jim Burton, Eric Gagne or Calvin Schiraldi? #BleacherTweets 

First off, it's an honor to have the Obnoxious Boston Fan ask a question on Bleacher Tweets. Now, back to the question at hand. I'd say it's far to early to tell whether or not Hanrahan is going to be as big a bust as Gagne was. With that said the potential is still very much a reality.

Hanrahan has yet to reach Calvin Schiraldi status. The former Red Sox reliever pitched in relief of Roger Clemens during the infamous Bill Buckner game in the 1986 World Series - let's not relive that please. During his two years in Boston Schiraldi was 12-7 with 148 strikeouts and 3.27 ERA. Simple put, Hanrahan needs more time to catch up with Mr. Schiraldi - on the other hand Schiraldi's 13.50 World Series ERA is the stuff of legends.

I'd have to say, by process of elimination, Hanrahan closely resembles Jim Burton. Here are the reasons why: He's extremely "green" when it comes to the Red Sox organization and must prove himself as a reliable relief pitcher in Boston. Burton spent his entire career (2 years) with the Red Sox compiling a stunning 1-2 win/loss record with 42 strikeouts and a 2.75 ERA. At this moment Hanrahan has a 0-1 record with 4 strikeouts and a 9.45 ERA - wait, what did I just type?!

@SaulBeal - @scottlevesque Scott, if you're the manager of my @RedSox what changes you'd make to be a better & stronger team? #BleacherTweets 

First, I love the fact that you call them "my Red Sox" as if you're the one that needs to be impressed by my answer - looking at Saul for approval and.... got it! Secondly, that's a difficult question to answer at this point. Looking at the season thus far it's clear that a weak point on this team is the bullpen - mainly due to injuries.

If I could change something about the Sox - to make them better - I'd probably trade for a long reliever. I believe Hanrahan and Bailey make a dynamic one-two punch, but we need to add depth at the long reliever spot. We have the pieces in our lineup and on the bench to be effective offensive and defensively throughout the season - clearly I'm not worried about that!

Follow Scott Levesque on Twitter at @scottlevesque.