It’s not a great record so far, and there have been enough fumbles in the field, poor pitching and wild swinging to give some cause for concern. But we’ve been through this before. As we know, these are not games but training exercises. And, even in defeat, there have been more than enough reasons to be cheerful.
Reasons to be cheerful Part 1: The kids look good. Sizemore looks really good.
Reasons to be cheerful Part 2: Papi has re-signed and Lester is about to. The pitchers still have another week to get fully extended and sort out those dead arm issues – yes, I’m talking about you, Felix – and it appears that Farrell has decided to be ultra-careful with Bucks. Good thinking.
Reasons to be cheerful Part 3: In the outfield, the problem will be which of many get the everyday slots. The bullpen has the same issue. But these are problems which almost every other team would like to have. Hey, would love to have.
So I am pretty confident that when I land in Boston for the first homestand, I’ll be watching a winning team.
The question is, to what extent can this this team repeat the rolling, rollicking ride they gave us last year? Will the Sox be up there after 162 games? How will we fare against the rest of the ALE, which is once again, the toughest division in MLB?
Well, the Yankees have thrown money at the problem, their traditional response to both success and failure. And there can be no doubt that they will benefit (and we will suffer) from Jacoby's move south. But I've a feeling they are not going to do much better than .500. Wishful thinking perhaps. Those pesky Yankees, you can never write them off.
The Os have problems in the rotation, no proven closer, and the brilliant Machado has that knee, or lack of it. But Jiminez and Cruz are good signings and will make a significant difference.
The Jays? A healthy Reyes is still capable of being sensational and Buhrle and Dickey will surely improve on career-worst seasons. So surely they can’t be as dreadful as they were last year. They can. I’ve a feeling they will have a better record but still prop up the basement.
And the Rays. Regular readers will know of my admiration for Joe Maddon, and this year, he will have even more to work with. The rotation looks very good indeed - no-one would meet the price for Price - but the offence is an issue. If the pitchers can limit the opposition, the run shortage might not matter. And that's why I think they will be right up there with ...
My prediction for 2014 is exactly the same as it was last year: we will reach the post-season but will need a little luck and a major signing to go all the way.
Last year, we had some luck. Then we signed Peavy. And then we took the Series. This year, I’m looking to Ben to come up with a big trade at the appropriate moment. And keeping my fingers crossed that the baseball gods look favourably on us when the calls are close.
I’ve seen 97-65 predictions. I think that’s over-optimistic. But we will be 90 plus. One thing I do know is that it will be a great season. And if we end up facing and defeating those smug Cardinals in October, I will be very happy indeed.
Same again, please. Go Sox!
Today from the everysmith vault: I've been asked to contribute a piece to a learned journal about Dylan. 20,000 words. I'm working backwards, and have had enough of Tempest. But Love and Theft - now that's a different matter.