March 29th, to be exact. Thursday. In March. Boy, that sure crept up fast. I suppose that’s what happens when it is basically still winter up here in the Northeast and baseball is not top of mind when it’s 30 degrees out and plenty of snow remains on the ground. Not to mention the fact that the Bruins and Celtics are having great seasons, thereby keeping the focus on them for a while…possibly until both are out of the playoffs.
Perhaps also the expectations for the Red Sox aren’t as high this year either? I don’t know. I’m not that high on them anyway. I’m not sold on the rookie manager. Too many question marks on the pitching staff, especially relating to injuries…or injury risks. Didn’t necessarily love the J.D. Martinez deal. Hanley…everything about him. The Yankees lineup looks prodigious…and have young potential stars on the way to boot. Some of this stuff we’ve been through before. Rest assured, we will get into more detail on my hesitations in the paragraphs that follow.
Listen, the Sox should be plenty good this year. They should be in the mix for the playoffs…of course. And for the money that the players are getting, they’d better be. Alex Cora HAS to be better than John Farrell, right? If he rejuvenates the younger players in the lineup, that alone is a huge win. You know, those young players who were supposed to be the future stars and the core of this team for years to come?
So anyway, let’s start with a quick look at the roster. No, it is not officially set yet, but it’s close enough. In all likelihood, the roster was pretty much set before the spring even started, for all intents and purposes. Basically just had to be adjusted a little for any spring injuries and for those who need a little more time to recover from previous offseason surgeries and whatnot.
Now let’s be honest, I did not watch a whole ton of spring training baseball. But I read all the box scores! And more importantly, I stayed away from all those “feel-good” stories that come out every March. Didn’t need those influencing my feelings. Because you all know how I feel for the 72nd guy on the roster. Root like hell for whoever that may be! In any event, because Spring Training results are fairly useless, we probably didn’t miss much.
Let’s get to it, in usual Blowhard fashion, we break down the roster by position, using the 40-man roster as a base, but adding in non-roster invitees (NRI) where appropriate:
In: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Brian Johnson
DL: Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez
DL/Suspension: Steven Wright
In limbo: Hector Velasquez, Marcus Walden (NRI)
Minors: Jalen Beeks, Roenis Elias
Comments: If Pomeranz and E-Rod aren’t out long, then the starting five should be more than acceptable. But that’s the big part of the problem. Those two aren’t the healthiest hurlers around. They could be out only a week or two, or we could see them in June. No one ever knows with them…E-Rod specifically. Price has apparently had a nice spring. But are we out of the woods on his elbow yet? Not so sure. Johnson is in the Opening Week rotation because of all these injuries. But how about HIS injury history? Marcus Walden is only noted here because he may actually be the #5 guy at the start since Hector has been less than stellar this spring.
Bottom line? Lot’s of holes here. If the starters remain in good health, it could be a top rotation. But what are the chances of that happening?
In: Craig Kimbrel (closer), Carson Smith, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree
DL: Tyler Thornburg, Austin Maddox
In limbo: Bobby Poyner (NRI), Tommy Layne (NRI)
Minors: Brandon Workman, Robby Scott, Chandler Shepherd, Ty Buttrey, Williams Jerez
Comments: There seem to be some other guys hanging around camp, like William Cuevas, but we don’t need to talk about guys like him. They won’t be going up to Boston for Opening Day. Anyway…lots of questions here as well. Kimbrel was dominant last year, let’s hope he can do it again. But the rest? Smith resurfaced at the end of last year, but let’s see how he handles a full season now. I am no fan of Kelly and Barnes so I don’t even want to talk about them. If Thornburg can regain his health, that SHOULD help. Then again, he has pitched in Milwaukee his whole career. Who knows how he adjusts to the AL East? Workman has been a huge disappointment this spring and I have no idea what the hell is wrong with late-season darling Maddox. He hasn’t pitched all spring it looks like and I haven’t even heard his name mentioned. I have heard Poyner’s name mentioned, as he has apparently turned some heads. But the Sox had to go sign Layne in the middle of the spring. That can’t be good.
There will be a lot of bodies on and off the pitching staff all year-long. But I don’t love all the questions right out of the gate. If I had to guess, Sale, Price, Porcello, Johnson, Velasquez, Walden, Poyner, Hembree, Kelly, Barnes, Smith and Kimbrel head to Boston at the start. In case you were worried, there is one open 40-man spot for one of Walden or Poyner and another spot can be opened when someone like Dustin Pedroia goes on the 60-day DL. Or someone like Chandler Shepherd gets designated for assignment. But, as you know, I’m the only one that cares about the last 40-man roster spot…
Next: The bats