Opening Day 2013 is here!

Back at it!

My blogging on baseball lasted about a month last year. With the hope that springs eternal at the start of every baseball season, here goes my attempt at writing a blog on a consistent basis. The one reason this year might be different is that I was lucky enough to get 2013 season tickets. The Sox were so bad and unpleasant last year that season ticket holders dumped them like a Josh Beckett bobble head doll (marked down for quick sale). Being a sucker about to turn 50, I bought into the hope that is the 2013 season. No way, though, that I plan on going to 81 home games. Let’s hope the Sox are good enough that I won’t have a problem finding a home for the games I can’t attend.

The exciting news for 2013 Red Sox is the arrival of twenty-two year old Jackie Bradley, Jr. (JBJ) to the roster and Opening Day lineup. With injuries to David Ortiz and Stephen Drew, both will start the season on the disabled list, Bradley got the news yesterday from John Farrell that he had made the Opening Day roster and was starting in left field. JBJ will be the first rookie to start on Opening Day for the Sox since Shea Hillebrand in 2001 and will be the youngest Opening Day left fielder since Yaz in 1961 (21 years old) and 1962 (22 years old).

One does wonder why the Sox are starting the season with JBJ in left field – there are some serious consequences tied to this decision. Once on the opening day roster, JBJ will be eligible for free agency in 2018. If the Sox had opted to send JBJ to AAA to open the season, waited nine days before calling him up, then he would not be eligible for free agency until 2019. The only option for the Sox now, if they do want to push back his free agency date to 2019, would be to send JBJ back down to the minors for 20 games at some point during the season. If he struggles and Ortiz returns soon, I expect JBJ will spend some time in the minors this year. While I am excited to see JBJ in the Opening Day lineup, I do wonder if the Sox may be pushing him too quick, thus hindering his development. He’s had a total of 651 plate appearances in the minors. That isn’t very much.

Plate Appearances in Minors Before Major League Appearance

Yaz 1068

Jim Rice 1794

Fred Lynn     679

Jacoby Ellsbury 1087

Dustin Pedroia 1216

Mike Trout 1312

Bryce Harper   536

Is JBJ the next Fred Lynn? That would be nice but I’m not holding my breath.

Another rookie making his debut in the majors today is Aaron Hicks of the Twins. Like JBJ, his highest level of play has been AA. He is only six months older then JBJ.  It will be interesting to track the two as the season progresses. Is college a better preparation for the majors or is being drafted as a high schooler and progressing through the lower levels of the minors? A research topic for another day.

Opening Day Lineup v. Yankees in the Bronx – April 1, 2013 (Lester v. Sabathia)

Red Sox:

Ellsbury, CF

Victorino, RF

Pedroia, 2B

Napoli, 1B

Middlebrooks, 3B

Salty, C

Gomes, DH

JBJ, LF

Iglesias, SS

Yankees:

Gardner, CF

Nunez, SS

Cano, 2B

Youkilis, 1B

Wells, LF

Francisco, DH

Suzuki, RF

Nix, 3B

Cervelli, C

Can you believe the Yankees are starting this pathetic lineup? The Bombers may be in for a long year.

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