It seems like a good time for some random thoughts related to the Red Sox . . .
• Robinson Cano is the reigning Gold Glove winner at second base in the American League. He has won it two of the last three seasons and deservedly so. But Dustin Pedroia should wrest that trophy away this season if the first 52 games are any sort of indication.
Pedroia’s defense at second base is stunning on almost a nightly basis, particularly on plays where he ranges to his right. This is highly unscientific and subject to personal whims under the influence of Red Bull, but there are 17 plays this season that merited a little star drawn in my scorebook.
• Who could have guessed last August when that big trade was made that the Red Sox would be 32-20 and the Dodgers 21-28? Adrian Gonzalez had 24 home runs over 492 at-bats since the start of the 2012 season. He’s an excellent player and still hits for average and gets on base. But a first baseman without power is not a player worth $21 million a year.
• The Sox are 10th in attendance in baseball, averaging just under 32,991. They were eighth last season, averaging 37,567. That certainly seems like a significant drop. But given last season’s performance and the diminished expectations over the winter, it doesn’t seem all that bad.
There were 33,627 fans at Fenway on Monday. That was more than what the Yankees and Mets drew in Queens, where 32,911 showed up.
• Speaking of which, Memorial Day should be mandatory day games. You’re supposed to sit outside, drink a beer, grill some food and listen to Joe and Dave on the radio.
• Jose Iglesias looks very comfortable at third base. It’ll be interesting to see what happens once Will Middlebrooks returns. Iggy could stick as the utility guy and Pedro Ciriaco could go. Here’s the question: Does Iglesias get better at the plate playing every day in Pawtucket or by being around the MLB team and playing less? Probably in the minors. But there’s something to be said for Iglesias being around Pedroia, David Ortiz and other older guys, too.
• Monday night was a great example of why the Red Sox have shown so much patience with Alfredo Aceves. There is a finite number of human beings who can successfully pitch in the major leagues and he is one of them.
But Aceves certainly does things his way. Dan Roche of WBZ told a great story on Toucher and Rich this morning. He attended the game with his son on Monday and saw Aceves come into the park at 6:08 p.m. for the 7:10 p.m. start.
• Jacoby Ellsbury has started playing well and it came at the same time John Farrell gave some candid responses to questions about the center fielder’s poor performance and mentioned he was considering dropping him down in the order. That doesn’t seem like a coincidence. Motivation comes in many forms and some guys need a reminder they can be replaced.
• It’s only 19 games because of an arm injury, but Jackie Bradley Jr is hitting .360/.461/.547 at Pawtucket.
• Let’s say the Red Sox are in contention in late July, which seems like a safe bet. Would you trade prospects for a starting pitcher or a big hitter for left field?
The Red Sox have trade chips galore. There have pitching (Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Henry Owens, Drake Britton), bats (Bradley, Bryce Brentz, Garin Cecchini, Xander Bogaerts) and catchers (Ryan Lavarnway, Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart).
Obviously some guys are untouchable. But not all 14 names mentioned are going to be good big leaguers, either. Half the reason for assembling good prospects is to have something to trade.
• The amateur draft starts on June 6. One name to keep an eye on is Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Carl Yastrzemski. Tyler Kepner of the Times wrote a great piece on the Vanderbilt outfielder. For the young man’s sake, here’s hoping the Red Sox do not take him.
• The Red Sox pick seventh in the draft. They haven’t picked that high since 1993 when they snared Trot Nixon.
Big leaguers picked seventh in recent years: Matt Harvey (2010), Mike Minor (2009), Yonder Alonso (2008), Matt LaPorta (2007), Clayton Kershaw (2006), Troy Tulowitzki (2005), Homer Bailey (2004) and Nick Markakis (2003).
So, yeah, this is kind of a big deal.
• If you are reading this Red Sox blog, you probably hate the Yankees. But you have to be impressed they’re 30-20. Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez have not played and CC Sabathia hasn’t won a game since April.
Chris Stewart (catcher), Lyle Overbay (first base), Jayson Nix (third base), Eduardo Nunez (shortstop), Vernon Wells (left field) and Travis Hafner (DH) have the most starts at their respective positions.
• Pedroia is very good at being at his locker for the media after the Red Sox lose games. He often disappears when they win. That’s being a good teammate.
• Speaking of media matters, Jon Lester deserves a lot of credit. The lefty was, frankly, a difficult guy to deal with in recent years. He was impatient and even short-tempered at times. You’ve probably seen that on the field, too. Lester wasn’t afraid to scowl at umpires while on the mound.
Who can blame him? It was tough sledding for Sox players for a long time in the court of public opinion and the media in Boston can be brutal.
But since the start of spring training, Lester has tried hard to be pleasant and cooperative and he now laughs off silly questions instead of grimacing. Last week, after we finished up an interview in Chicago, Lester chatted amicably with a few of us and left saying, “See you tomorrow.”
It may not sound like a big deal, but it’s part of the job of a big leaguer to deal with the media in some reasonable manner and Lester is better at that part of his job.
Lester always seemed like a good guy, even when he was grumpy. It’s good that he’s letting that show.
• It’s only seven games. But John Lackey has a 2.72 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and an ERA+ of 160. He’s also striking out 9.1 batters per nine innings. Those numbers wouldn’t seem sustainable. But then again, pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery usually get better over time, too. A 3.50 ERA is not unreasonable for Lackey.
• It’s kind of funny how little 2012 is mentioned around the Sox. It’s like a movie where somebody woke up and realized it was all just a bad dream.
• Mark Melancon has pitched 27 innings for the Pirates. He has allowed three runs on 20 hits with one (one!) walk and 27 strikeouts. Holy cow. Melancon has a 2.43 ERA as a NL pitcher and a 5.79 ERA as an AL pitcher in his career, so who is to say what he would be doing had he not been traded. But those are eye-popping numbers.
• Alex Wilson is not afraid to throw strikes to big league hitters, which is not something you can say about every rookie reliever. He’s had a few stumbles, but there is a lot to work with there.
• My favorite stat of the season so far: David Ortiz went 1,859 games over parts of 17 years without stealing third base. Then he did it twice in five games.
• Finally, a request: Enjoy what is going on. The Sox were one of the worst teams in baseball last season and now they’re one of the best. They have a fun team to watch. They play hard, they generally play the game right and they seem to care about each other. There’s a plan in place that starts in the front office, goes through the manager and coaches and gets to the players. This organization staggered around for a bit and now it’s back going in the right direction.
It’s the default position for Boston fans to grouse about their teams, that’s a given. But don’t worry about the future for a change. Enjoy the present.