The season is half over, the glass is half full

All-Star break comes, and the Red Sox are atop the AL East with a record of 53-34. We’ve been here before. Actually, it was last year. Our record was 53-33 then, and we were the team to beat in the East.

Look, I know it’s hard for Red Sox fans to look on the bright side. We’ve been hurt before. But here are a number of whys that should have Red Sox Nation smiling with cautious enthusiasm this year.

5 Red Sox reasons to be optimistic

  1. The lead. Last year, the Yankees were sniffing around at 50-36, just 3.0 games back. This year, both New York and Toronto are 10 games back, and haven’t demonstrated yet that they have what it takes to mount a serious challenge this year.
  2. A year older, a year wiser. Theo and the front office learned something about player depth last season, especially pitching depth. They won’t make the same mistake again. I fully expect them to fiddle with the roster and make a minor trade or two, because Wily Mo is no fourth outfielder/pinch hitter, and you can never have enough quality arms in the bullpen. We could also use an outfielder who can hit lefties.
  3. The pitching staff. Our Red Sox have allowed the fewest runs so far of any major league team. Yes, even fewer than Oakland. I know it doesn’t always feel like it, but this pitching staff is tops in the majors. And that’s with Julian Tavarez as your fifth starter, Josh Beckett having hit the DL once, and Curt Schilling out for a stretch. The bullpen has been awesome, and the defense backing them up is pretty good, too.
  4. Career numbers. Thank God for regression to the mean. In baseball, what that means is that in 98% of cases (barring injury or other physical/mental change), Julio Lugo can not continue hitting .197 when he’s a career .270 hitter. He will get going at some point and likely end somewhere around .230-.240 on the year, if not better. David Ortiz, who has averaged over 47 HR his past three years, will get more mistake pitches to drive, and he’ll figure out what to do with that breaking stuff away so that people will have to pitch to him. And if you believe sabermetrics, which claims there is no such thing as clutch hitting, the Red Sox can not go on hitting so poorly with men on base.
  5. The youth. After years of hearing about Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Manny Delcarmen and Clay Buchholz, we are finally seeing them (or will see them shortly) in Boston uniforms. And we like what we see. Should anything happen to a regular player, it’s nice to know that we have some pretty good options standing by, not just journeymen off the scrap heap.

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