COMMENTARY | The Boston Red Sox have had plenty of negative stories surrounding them over the last two seasons. This spring is no different and has already been marred with injuries, poor performances, and even a drunk driving charge. And it's not yet mid-March!
However, it's time to focus on the positives. There are still many of them as we get closer and closer to the start of the season.
1. New Leadership in the clubhouse- The Red Sox not only brought in a new coaching staff led by John Farrell, but they also signed free agents who are known for their character. While Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino got most of the attention, Jonny Gomes and David Ross may make more an impact off the field. Both are known for being solid teammates with high value in the clubhouse. This is something that Boston has been lacking over the past few seasons.
The combination of new players and a no-nonsense coach should bring some additional discipline to a team that could desperately use it.
2. Jackie Bradley Jr.- What else can be said about how he has played so far? Bradley has simply been exceptional. He is hitting .519, with 1 HR, 7 runs scored and an amazing OBP of .619. He also continues to impress in the outfield, playing numerous positions.
Bradley is expected to start in the minors, but if this continues how long could the Red Sox possibly wait before bringing him up?
3. The Other Young Kids- Besides Bradley the Sox are getting great play from others as well. Xander Bogaerts has helped Netherlands make it to the Semi's of the World Baseball Classic. He has started nearly every game at third base, and is now hitting over .300. Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker is hitting over .350, with an OPS of .938. Juan Carlos Linares is a few years older than the rest, but continues to produce. Alan Webster, Steven Wright and Rubby De La Rosa have held their own on the mound as well. A good start to many future stars for the Sox.
4. Jon Lester's Outstanding Spring- The number 1 for Boston has been efficient so far in March. Through 14 innings, Lester has allowed just two earned runs on six hits. He has struck out ten, while walking four. No better way to forget about a miserable year than to come out firing in the spring.
This is exactly the start Lester needed. Lester's coming out and showing great command and presence on the mound should be a major confidence boost to a pitching staff lacking in that department.
5. The New York Yankees' Health- The Bronx Bombers seemed to be the ones who were bombed. Injuries to about half the starting lineup will put an incredible amount of pressure on the rotation to start this season. Considering it's already a tight division this could really set the Yankees back if they are slow out of the gate.
While the Red Sox aren't expected to be the favorite to win the division, a struggling New York team could provide the opening they need.
6. Bullpen Depth- The best battles in camp so far have taken place in a potentially loaded bullpen. It's never a problem to have too much pitching, especially when injuries are expected. Not surprisingly, the Sox are already dealing with injuries to Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales. This has left the door open for many others to battle it out.
Closer Joel Hanrahan has gotten off to a shaky start, but there is still plenty of optimism about this group of bullpen boys who will probably be needed to support the lack of starting depth.
7. Mike Napoli- He's healthy (thankfully) and killing the ball. Napoli has a .364 BA, with a .462 OBP. He has also bashed three homeruns, including one in an exhibition against Team Puerto Rico. Napoli's continuing good health is incredibly imperative, especially now that David Ortiz is expected to miss the start of the season. So far so good for the new Red Sox basher.
8. The Death of the "Sellout" Streak- The controversial streak is expected to end early this season. This will finally put to bed one of the more annoying aspects of Red Sox Nation. While the bandwagon fans have been dwindling over the years, the change in attendance should bring that Boston "attitude" back to Fenway, something that has been missing for far too long. Fenway Park should be loud and crude, not joyous and cute.
It's also encouraging that Boston's front office can put an end to something that "jumped the shark" about four years ago.
9. No Bobby Valentine- He's nowhere to be found. Well, unless you go to Sacred Heart, then your stuck with his being your athletic director. That has to be fun.
10. Spring- As always the most import aspect of the start of baseball is that spring is around the corner. It's a long, long winter for most of Red Sox Nation. Hearing the crack of a bat, smelling the aroma of popcorn, breaking out the glove to play catch with a family member are all made extra special in the northeast with the melting of the frozen tundra.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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