Monday’s Opening Day lineup should look something like this:
- Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
- Shane Victorino, OF
- Dustin Pedroia, 2B
- Mike Napoli, 1B
- Will Middlebrooks, 3B
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
- Jonny Gomes, DH
- Jackie Bradley, Jr. OF
- Jose Iglesias, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury’s a known unknown; he’s like watching a roulette wheel, in that it could end 38 different ways and we’ve thought of them all. The beauty of the contract year is that it’s a batter’s contract with his bat, every damn day, and Ellsbury, no doubt coaxed by Boras, has put himself into something of a tight position. The variable for which they didn’t account — and why would they? — was Jackie Bradley’s blitz toward Fenway, which puts Ellsbury in the Boston media crosshairs, a place from which there is only total and permanent escape.
I like the Shane Victorino signing. Shane Victorino is a baller. When people say “veteran leadership,” what they really mean is “going out and busting his ass every damn day.” It’s quantifiable: Productivity can be a volume business, and it can be easy to miss. Bill Simmons is pissed about the $39 million but really, so what? The Red Sox are in an extremely well-defined transition. If Shane Victorino isn’t a transitional player, I don’t know who is.
The father to Dustin Pedroia’s style has still not been located, and the search has been called off. The only difference between him and you, in its entirety, is that he decided at some point, “Fuck everyone, I’m gonna be the best player in baseball,” and then he basically went and did it by repeating that to himself every five seconds from age nine until whenever you’re reading this. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and let’s just be happy about it.
I’m bullish on Napoli. ESPN’s injury grim reaper Stephania Bell said that he feels totally fine after he adjusted to the news of his hip condition; I believe her. I’ll enjoy watching Will Middlebrooks this year, given the safe distance I kept from the nightly Human Centipede performance art shitshow that they ran out there in 2012, starring Pedro Ciriaco in the role of “Designated Hitter.” Saltalamacchia is too dull and too many letters to write about, given that I’m not gonna call a dude “Salty.”
I’m bullish on the Jonny Gomes/Daniel Nava platoon in the outfield, but that’s mostly because I’m bullish on Gomes in general. Gomes seems to think he got put into the platoon box so early in his career that he’s never gotten a fair chance to scramble out of it. He would say that, but in Fenway, it seems plausible enough, unless you figure the Red Sox looked this scenario in the eyes and decided to bring up Jackie Bradley to do an end run around it. That would figure that the Sox didn’t, uh, believe him, or believed that their platoon combo was so good — and it’s pretty damn good — that Bradley plus the platoon gave them a chance to contend. Not one Fangraphs analyst picked the Sox to make the playoffs, and there were a lot of them. The Red Sox are solidly under the radar. That’s where you want to be. It wouldn’t hurt the cause if Jose Iglesias was Ozzie Smith, though. Which he might be, if we just pray hard enough. It’s up to us. Duh.