Opening Day is right around the corner! Well, I’m not really counting the Australia games. Did anyone actually pay attention to them? And I guess I am not counting the Sunday Night Baseball game either, but at least we can all follow it.
Red Sox open up Monday at 3:00. Seems to have snuck up on everyone…well, me anyway. The Bruins have been smoking hot, the Celtics have been the opposite (much to most people’s delight this year though) and the Patriots have made a few impact free agent moves.
The fact that this Sox camp has been largely uneventful is probably another big reason as well. Not to mention that instead of coming off a “chicken and beer” year or a Bobby Valentine debacle year, they are coming off a World Series Championship year. I suppose that helps keep things in perspective. (Side note: speaking of “chicken and beer, have I mentioned that the strength coach for the Sox that year is now working (at least part-time) at a small gym in Billerica, MA? Seems like quite a fall…especially considering he apparently was on the Diamondback staff during their World Series as well. Feel kind of bad for the guy actually. The players walked all over him in Boston, he said a few things publicly the ensuing winter suggesting as much, the team pretty much made him a scapegoat and canned him…and now he seems to be blackballed out of baseball completely altogether. He probably deserved better. But anyway, I digress…)
The team came to Spring Training this year without much controversy. Dempster “retired” right before camp. No big deal, he was basically insurance anyway. Wouldn’t have minded that insurance, but I guess that is why they got Chris Capuano. Not sure why they had to do that, as Workman seemingly had earned that spot on the roster, based on his work specifically in the playoffs. But that’s really kind of a minor issue. There weren’t really any spots up for grabs on the roster. You knew most of the kids (other than Bogaerts and maybe Bradley) would be seasoned more in the minors…cuz that’s how the Sox roll. Certainly the young pitchers. Always good to have 15-20 pitchers that can contribute to the pitching staff of a team over the course of the year. So try the Badenhop’s and Capuano’s early. Keep guys like Francisco Cordero, Tommy Layne and Rich HIll in Pawtucket if they are ok with it. Keep the kids down until they prove they are ready. Gonna need them all.
The biggest noise came from the contract situations (see previous post). Jonny Gomes shot his mouth off about how great he is. And the endless Stephen Drew stories. (Love how he is still completely delusional…as well as Boras. Scotty Boras generally gets his guys deals that most people can’t fathom, but this time…not so much. Kind of telling that when a great team like Detroit loses their SS, likely for the year (old friend Jose Iglesias), they go out and trade for two others not named Drew within a week: Some Romine guy no one has ever heard of…and the corpse of Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez used to be a wizard at short, but A: He is 37 years old, B: He hasn’t been able to stay healthy for years and C: Milwaukee actually played him at 1B last year, as I believe Baltimore was doing this spring before dealing him. So much for Stephen Drew. But Boras said recently that he has a 3 year, 39 million dollar offer on the table for him. Sure thing chief).
Oh, Jonathan Herrera beat out Brock Holt for the utility infield role. That was pretty major…not. They actually could use a guy like Drew as a backup on the left side of the infield. Solid veteran who could help out if Bogaerts and/or Middlebrooks falls flat on their face. But not for 14 mil per. Goes without saying. Glad the team is going with these two guys though. Xander should be playing SS, until he proves otherwise. And I didn’t want to give up on Middlebrooks yet. Which brings us to about the only story on the actual playing field this spring…and the last kid who was SUPPOSED to be in the starting lineup on Opening Day, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Not that the Sox were handing Bradley a job, but they kind of were when they let Ellsbury walk and didn’t sign anyone else of significance. Grady Sizemore was supposed to be a gamble…anything he could give you would be a bonus. Hadn’t played in two years, has been essentially useless for five. Now he is the darling of camp. Just cuz he played a few games. 33 at-bats and all of a sudden people are talking like he will be a 30-30 guy again this year. Let’s pump the brakes on all this folks. Grady was a pretty good player in his early to mid-twenties. But now he is 31 and hasn’t done much for a half a decade. Everything he will do this year IS a bonus and we can’t forget that.
That being said, I’d have him break camp with the big league club. If he has anything to offer, might as well get it out of the gate. Instead of him going to Pawtucket, or probably extended spring training, and wasting his hits down there. Problem is, you’ll need someone capable of playing CF when he can’t. And apparently we can’t count on Victorino to do that, because of injury and whatever else. The talk of playing Nava there is a joke (remember a stint he had out there last year when Ellsbury was a late scratch one night and Victorino was unavailable? It was ugly if you don’t remember. And another side note: What is all this talk by Farrell about “trying” to get Nava some time in center and “trying” to get Carp some time at 3rd still? Haven’t you had the last 6 weeks to get those guys time at those places? Many games, major, minor and intrasquad? You are the manager, if you want to get them experience at those positions, just put them in the lineup already).
Bradley should also break camp with the team. As opposed to last year, he has done squat in the spring. But so has Papi with his 2 for 35. OK, different situations, I know. But Bradley can stay here for his defense and pick up some valuable major league at-bats in at least a platoon scenario. Unfortunately, the way the roster is constructed, there may not be room for him. Because you still have Nava, Gomes and Carp in the OF as well. Do you really need all of those three though? I’d rid myself of Gomes personally, since he extremely overrates himself and Farrell feels the urge to play him too much. But they won’t. Nava should suffice since he is serviceable at LF/RF/1B and switch hits. Carp is expendable. They love how he can hit cold off the bench, but so what? That was one year and he was atrocious in the playoffs. There is supposedly trade value out there for him. What are they waiting for? You can find a Mike Carp anywhere. Deal him, open the spot for Bradley. It’s best for the team. Mike Carp? Please.
My favorite part about the beginning of the regular season? In all honesty it could quite possibly be the end of two straight months of “feel good” stories from all the local blowhard writers that are everywhere. Enough already…nauseating…