MLB.com writer Alden Gonzalez chatted with fans about Week 1 of the baseball season. Gonzalez talked about Boston's 0-3 start, the Rays' offense and more.
Alden Gonzalez: Hey, all. Thanks for taking part in today's chat. I'm here for any baseball-related talk -- and apparently for therapeutic reasons with regard to Red Sox fans -- so fire away, and let's have fun with this.
bostonfan26: Hello, why do you think the Red Sox lost all their games?
Gonzalez: A combination of things. Lackey and Bard really struggled, Salty gave them nothing behind the plate, and Tito is still trying to find the right mix for his lineup. But most of all, because they were facing a real good team in a place where they struggled last season. I wouldn't worry much right now.
kb13: How long will it take the Red Sox to turn it around?
Gonzalez: As soon as today, in a three-game series in Cleveland. They can sweep the Indians, and then this weekend is mostly forgotten. Big series, though -- at least it's as big as they get in April -- because the Red Sox have nine straight games against AL East foes after this, starting with the Yankees on Friday. Very curious to see how Beckett does tonight.
TrueSportsFan1975: Am I crazy or did it not seem like most of the Red Sox troubles in Texas could be narrowed down to two bad innings -- one by Bard and one by Lackey.
Gonzalez: Ah, a little bit of perspective. I'm okay with chalking up Lackey's outing as one rough start. He had a solid spring, and between him and Beckett -- the two members of their rotation who struggled last year -- Lackey's stuff was still pretty good last year. Bard was hit hard this spring. Helps you see why they went after Rivera this offseason. Random thought: I've always believed Crawford was the ideal No. 2 hitter in that lineup (no matter if you start the lineup with two lefties).
WhoIsJohnGalt: Do you think the Utley-less Phillies have enough offensive pop to support their rotation?
Gonzalez: I think their starting pitching is so good that it will make up for huge deficiencies in their offense and in the bullpen. The Phillies, in my mind, need a healthy Utley to beat the Braves this year. But J-Roll and Ben Francisco have been off to good starts, and that's a good sign. But I can't emphasize this enough: the sample size is still quite small.
punksroo: What do you think about the Rays offense, or lack thereof?
Gonzalez: It's a big cause for concern. I always felt the Rays would struggle offensively, because you don't know what you'll get from so many of their guys -- Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist, etc. The one guy you can count on -- Evan Longoria -- is on the DL. His injury doesn't seem too serious, but the Rays need good starts in order to compete in that division. Just look at 2009 -- rough start to the season and they were swimming upstream all year.
WhoIsJohnGalt: Who do you think will be this year's San Diego Padres?
Gonzalez: The Oakland Athletics. They're my surprise pick of the year. I think they have the pitching and play great defense. Like the Padres, they're built perfectly for their ballpark. Bailey needs to come back healthy though, and they need something from Matsui and Willingham.
vifinn: The Red Sox being winless doesn't surprise me. I don't think they can beat really good teams with their pitching.
Gonzalez: I think Lester and Buchholz are the real deal, and I wouldn't bet that both Beckett and Lackey will struggle like they did last year. The Red Sox will be fine -- it's just three games.
dochase: How about the Braves and their bullpen? What do you think of their offensive capabilities?
Gonzalez: The Braves' bullpen is the best in their division by far. Kimbrel and Venters have great stuff. I watched them rather closely this spring and I think Atlanta has the most complete team in the National League. Offensively, they have the weapons, but Chipper and McLouth both need to bounce back (and both had good springs).
punksroo: Who do you think we'll see playing in October?
Gonzalez: I'm not going to let three games influence me. I'm going with who I had at the start of the year -- Red Sox and Braves. It was the Phillies out of the NL, but Utley's uncertain timetable is that big of a deal -- and so are Lidge's health problems.
skipdog15: What do you think of Crawford so far?
Gonzalez: I think Crawford will be great, and he was better on Sunday when Tito dropped him in the lineup. I think he was really pressing in that No. 3 spot -- after signing that big contract, and after going from a market like Tampa Bay to one like Boston. Again, I think he is an ideal No. 2 hitter, and that's where I would slot him. It's where he's had success his entire career.
skipdog15: Do you think Beckett will have a bounce-back year or will he have a year like last year?
Gonzalez: As much as I like Beckett, I can't bet on him having a bounce-back year because there's no evidence to suggest it. His stuff wasn't even close last year, and his spring was rough. Until he provides tangible evidence otherwise, I think his days of competing for the Cy Young Award are done. But Boston has other guys in its rotation who can do that.
skipdog15: If Crawford hit second where would Pedroia hit?
Gonzalez: I would do it: Ellsbury-Crawford-Gonzalez-Youkilis-Pedroia-Ortiz.
benji105: There is nothing wrong with Red Sox -- we have only played three games.
Gonzalez: I'm going to guess you don't reside in Boston.
benji105: What's wrong with Lackey?
Gonzalez: I'm ready to say nothing right now. He got beat up against a really good team in his first start of the season. His last Spring Training game was a simulated game in Fort Myers, which they got in just before the rain came on. Tough to amp it up from that to regular-season intensity. Start No. 2 is the one to watch. let's see how he bounces back.
skipdog15: Do you think there will be any surprise trades involving the Red Sox?
Gonzalez: Anything can happen in Beantown, especially with such high expectations going into a season. The one area i'd be watching closest is catcher.
skipdog15: Is there any chance we could get Albert Pujols in the offseason?
Gonzalez: Which team is this? (Guessing it's not Red Sox, right?)
skipdog15: Yeah, is there any chance the Red Sox could get Pujols?
Gonzalez: Let's see -- they just inked a new left fielder to a huge contract, and they're going to give another one to a new first baseman. I'm going to side with no on that one.
Oranges: What do you think of the Tampa Bay Rays? Do you think they can contend in the tough American League East?
Gonzalez: I believe if you have a good starting staff, you can compete with anybody. The difference is, can they get over the hump in August/September. Their bullpen is not good enough right now, and neither is their offense. They'll be in it, though, and they'll hover around .500.
benji105: What's your views on the Texas Rangers?
Gonzalez: They have an outstanding bullpen and a scary offense if they don't trade Young (here's hoping they don't). Guys like Matt Harrison will have to keep surprising like he did Sunday.
RallyMonkey21: How long will Evan Longoria be out with an injury? He thinks less than a week but Joe Maddon thinks at least three weeks. What is the typical recovery time for a strained oblique?
Gonzalez: Hard to tell. The MRI came back a little more negative than they originally thought. I'm guessing he's back before May. You never know with oblique injuries. Granderson sustained one and he was ready by Opening Day.
jomack726: Are the Brewers going to be the 0-4 team they have shown or will they turn it around and be contenders like they are supposed to be?
Gonzalez: They will be contenders. I think John Axford is going to be a good closer for them, and Greinke should be back. But I have big questions about two players: Shaun Marcum and Corey Hart. Marcum's shoulder, no matter what he says, doesn't seem healthy. And Corey Hart still doesn't know when he'll be back. This is a solid team, but it's not deep enough to sustain major injuries like that.
Oranges: Do you think the combination of Tulowitzki and CarGo is enough to carry the Rockies? That rotation doesn't seem particularly strong compared to the division rivals.
Gonzalez: I think the rotation is strong enough if Ubaldo Jimenez is healthy, and we'll see about that. Most complete team in that division, I say.
skipdog15: If the Red Sox got Pujols, Gonzo could move to DH and they could drop Papi.
Gonzalez: I think their funds (whatever they have left) would be better spent down the road on pitching.
benji105: Many Red Sox players say they will win 100 games. What's your opinion on that?
Gonzalez: Wouldn't bet against it.
benji105: Are you going to be here daily with this chat format?
Gonzalez: We'll have at least one person on weekly. Not sure when I will be back in particular, though.
RallyMonkey21: Can the Angels be a winning team without Kendrys Morales? They are 1-3 without him this year, but have lost on two walk-offs.
Gonzalez: Considering their struggles last year, they need a healthy Kendrys to contend. But i am intrigued by this Trumbo kid they have at first base.
Gonzalez: Okay, guys, we're winding down here, so I'll just take a few more.
Oranges: Is there any chance the Mets can make the playoffs this year?
Gonzalez: Nope. Not in my mind. This is a transition year for the Mets, one in which the new front office needs to try to weed out bad contracts and see which direction to take them. I'm not even sure who will be there by the time August rolls around (will Reyes, Beltran, K-Rod be gone? Quite possibly.)
nerffff: What's your take on the Phillies offense so far without Chase Utley and obviously Jayson Werth?
Gonzalez: Those are two big pieces to lose. J-Roll and Ibanez need to bounce back in a big way to make up for it. J-Roll says he embraces hitting third, and he has started off well, which is a good sign.
RallyMonkey21: When will super prospects Mike Trout and Bryce Harper be playing in the Major Leagues? Next year?
Gonzalez: I can see them coming up in September, but not much sooner. They need seasoning. Still, they're so good, I can see each of them tearing through the Minors and forcing their teams' hands in June/July.
Oranges: You predicted on a blog post that the Yankees wouldn't make the playoffs (Red Sox division, Detroit Wild Card). After watching them come out and hit this year, would you still stand by that?
Gonzalez: Yes, because it's three games. But I like what I've seen from Tex, A-Rod and Russell Martin -- guys they really need to bounce back. They are a solid starter away, though, in my mind.
Gonzalez: Okay, guys, that'll do it for me. Thanks for taking part in this chat. It was fun. Happy Week Two.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.