So my favorite baseball analyst, Tim Kurkjian, has put the Red Sox in third place in the AL East. I know he likes Boston, so I’m not going to accuse him of Hub-prejudice, but I think he is overly cautious in forecasting the success of a club with many unknowns. Admittedly some luck will determine where the Sox finish in 2013.
In Major League baseball Luck is always on deck. Typically, the Red Sox are stocked with starters with Achilles’ tendons, Tommy John elbows, and the constitution of Jimmy Piersall in center field. Add to this the mysteries of concussions and hidden hip ailments you have a line-up for the infirmary, rather than the All-Star team. So any hopeful predictions will assume a reckless disregard for the curse of injury.
But we are done with curses. Leaving Spring Training we have every reason to hope for dramatic recovery from David Ortiz and John Lackey. We have hope that Jacoby Ellsbury will survive his year leading up to free agency and dazzle his suitors. We have hope that Mike Napoli will earn the contract incentives he signed up for during the winter. And we believe that at least one unproven rookie, a Jackie Bradley, a Jose Iglesias or an Allen Webster will surprise his critics and reach Major League maturity early. And even if Luck goes three for seven on my wish list, that would be .428 and enough to get the Red Sox to second place.
Because, for the first time in five years, the Red Sox have an established pitching rotation, not one built on “Spahn, Sain and two days of rain.” Every pitcher in the five-man rotation is a proven starter. In the bullpen, there are three bonafide closers. In the middle innings there is a reliable right-hander and left-hander. And, of course, the usual number of works-in-progress named Bard, Breslow, and Morales. But what if just one of them fully recovered?
Luck’s greatest mystery is John Farrell, who has yet to prove he can manage a winner. Farrell brings the experience of past success with the Red Sox and especially the knowledge of handling pitchers. If he can motivate a team through long road trips and hardship, that will seal the season. The X-factors of injury, batting slumps, and lost confidence are frequently dispelled by good managing. My expectation is that John Farrell is the man for the job.
Luck is always on deck. I have seen Luck swinging and stretching and nodding as he looks over the Red Sox. With all the bad things that could happen this year, only a few will transpire. With all the miscues of a first-year manager only a few will set back the team. Under the pressure of September only one hitter will fold. Luck says we’re a cinch for second, and his sister “Good Luck” says “No Limit to the Possibilities.”