Friday, April 13, 2012

Red Sox v. Rays (April 13, 2012)

Boston Red Sox (1-5) v. Tampa Bay Rays (4-2)

SP - Josh Beckett (0-1, 13.50) v. David Price (1-0, 2.84)

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Darnell McDonald, RF
7. Cody Ross, LF
8. Mike Aviles, SS
9. Kelly Shoppach, C

Three Strikes:

1. I do believe Josh Beckett should hear boos from a majority of the Opening Day crowd at Fenway Park today but not because his first start in Detroit was a disaster.  The Tigers did beat him up last Saturday but one poor start does not justify a negative reaction from the crowd.

Beckett deserves to hear it from the crowd for his role - on and off the field - in last September's collapse and that alone.  If he can turn things around this season - and that is one of the most important factors in the Red Sox competing for a playoff spot in 2012 - then he should be forgiven for the disappointing end to 2011 but until he proves that 2011 is behind him, then the fans should not forget his failures as a player and teammate.

2. After dominating the Rays (remember the Devil Rays?) for the beginning of their existence (111-58 from 1998-2007), the Red Sox have not been very successful against their division rivals from Florida.  Since 2008, when they dropped the "Devil" and became simply the Rays, the Red Sox are just 30-42 and also lost the 2008 ALCS to Tampa.  Hat tip to Peter Abraham for the numbers.

The biggest reason for this change is the incredible job that the Rays have done of drafting, developing, and successfully utilizing their young players (especially their pitchers) and of finding cheap veterans to fill out their roster. 

The Red Sox have overly relied on high priced free agents and trade acquisitions and have not done as good of a job of drafting and developing young stars - especially pitchers - as their division rivals.  For the Red Sox to continue the long run of success they have had since 1998 (no losing seasons, an average of 91.7 regular season wins, eight trips to the playoffs, five appearances in the ALCS, and two World Series titles from 1998-2011), they need to do a better job of developing their own young talent.

3. I hope people are fair to Bobby Valentine today when his name is called and that he is not (unfairly) compared to his predecessor, Terry Francona.

Program Note:

The first homestand means business will be heating up at The Baseball Tavern.  The Tavern, located at 1270 Boylston Street, should always be your pregame and postgame meeting spot when you travel to Fenway Park. 

Make sure to stop by Sunday, Marathon Monday, Wednesday, or next Friday to grab a few cold ones, have a sandwich, and tip TheBostonInsider generously!

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