The Indians’ homestand against colored footwarmers continues tonight as the Boston Red Sox come to town to kick off a three-game series at Progressive Field. This is our first look at the Sox this year, so I talked to BoSox Injection Editor Steve Peterson about the Red Sox’ 2013 outlook, the offseason rumors about Boston’s interest Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, and what Tribe fans should expect from Terry Francona and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
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Wahoo’s on First: What do you expect from the Red Sox this year and where do you see them finishing in the AL East?
Steve Peterson: I expect the Red Sox, as new manager and former Sox pitching coach John Farrell has clearly indicated, to be professional. 2012 was a disaster on so many levels that Farrell setting the tone from the get go was an imperative. The team is on the same page and I think this will translate into at least a .500 season, which in the AL East this year will likely mean a 4th-place finish. After their start – the best in two years – they may actually surprise some experts and me and compete for a Wild Card berth.
Wahoo’s on First: There was speculation this winter about Boston being interested in trading for Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera. How serious do you think the Red Sox were about that (if at all)? Are you disappointed that neither deal came to fruition?
Steve Peterson: The Red Sox were second only to the Blue Jays in activity over the winter. I think they were serious about both Choo and Cabrera. After securing Shane Victorino and experiencing the ascendance of Jackie Bradley Jr., even though he’s gotten off to a tough start, Boston is in good shape this year in the outfield. Daniel Nava is also a solid outfielder who can spell the starting three. Nava has also been crushing the ball in a DH role until David Ortiz returns.
Regarding Cabrera, a lot has happened in Boston since they first considered him. Boston is now in the enviable position of having two solid shortstops. Stephen Drew, after returning from a spring training concussion, looks solid. Sox top prospect Jose Iglesias, who as sent down to Triple A Pawtucket upon Drew’s return, is a wizard in the field who appears to have finally found his hitting groove in 2013. Always a weak hitter, Iglesias went off this spring and kept it up early in the year until Drew returned. Iggy was batting .450 when Drew returned. If Drew doesn’t perform or gets injured again, expect Iglesias to slide into the slot with no trouble.
Wahoo’s on First: What should Indians fans know about Terry Francona that they don’t already?
Steve Peterson: Indians fans have probably figured out already that Tito is just a great person who knows how to handle personnel and tough situations. He took the fall in 2011 after Boston’s collapse and I believe it was unjustified. Perhaps what they may not know is how intense he is behind that cool demeanor. Expect him to blow is stack a couple of times this year in spectacular fashion. It’s fun to watch.
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Wahoo’s on First: Speaking of former Red Sox, the Indians have Daisuke Matsuzaka stashed away in Triple-A. What would it take for him to resurrect his career?
Steve Peterson: A miracle.
Wahoo’s on First: What’s your prediction for the series?
Steve Peterson: Boston lost their first series the other day against the Orioles but that’s been the only one so far. They have generally found a way to win series against opponents. With that being said, Boston’s rotation doesn’t match up well against the Indians.
Felix Doubront will open the series against Ubaldo Jimenez. Doubront is inconsistent, at times strong and other times hittable and mentally soft. Boston’s team batting average is nearly 25 points higher than the Indians so if Doubront (0-0, 5.40) can keep the runs down Boston might take the first game. If he doesn’t, Indians win big.