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Mound Presence or Pitching Powerhouse?

By: Ira H. Perkins IV

There are a few things that indicate the coming of Spring. Snow melt and plant growth are a couple of things that come to mind but what really takes hold is opening day of Major League Baseball. It isn’t a question of perennials or annuals it’s Red Sox or Yankees and increasingly the Tampa Bay Rays. Not to minimize a rich tradition of baseball rivalry but there are a few more American League East teams that we still need to worry about or do we? Baseball fans everywhere probably have their team’s schedule already posted up in the house somewhere to remind themselves of game times and be prepared to dig in their spikes for early April baseball and what it brings. Those of us who are Red Sox fans will be eager to see if we can jump on top of the Yankees early and often. As it stands in my mind we have a good fighting chance. April 6th the Red Sox will host the Tampa Bay Rays last year’s worst to best team and ALCS Champions. The air may be a bit cooler than we like for a ball game but the action should be red hot. The Red Sox will be looking to redeem themselves from last year’s ALCS loss, we can be sure of that and we’ll be watching closely to see if there is still any fuel left over in the tank from when Coco Crisp and opposing pitcher Matt Garza sparked a bench clearing brawl during regular season exhibition. With the excitement of a new season waiting in the wings I am making the effort to be thoughtful about a few things. The most fore bearing is that pitching wins games. So now I ask you this, could the Red Sox starting pitcher rotation look any better if nothing else than on paper? Maybe, but seemingly unlikely. Dice-K is coming back to join the Red Sox after winning consecutive World Baseball Classic MVP Awards. Josh Beckett has two spring training wins, no loses and a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings of work. Clay Buckholtz is lobbying pretty hard for a spot as a starter and is doing an outstanding job by putting together two spring training wins striking out 15 and maintaining an ERA well under 1.00. Then there is last season’s down the stretch standout John Lester. If he can be nearly as dominant as last season he should put together a dozen wins easily. The story wouldn’t be nearly complete if I didn’t mention the new guys in town… maybe you’ve heard of them. John Smoltz and Brad Penny? Someone told me once these guys can be pretty good. Since 2001 Penny has had four seasons with 10 or more wins and Smoltz the uncompromising veteran is an NLCS MVP and Cy Young Award winner. I guess you give a guy like Smoltz the Cy Young Award when he completes a season with 24 wins. Now the only thing lingering is with a starting pitcher cast like this how much room exactly is there at the top?

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