Well, we're getting down to it, and typically, there are lots of fun spring training subplots taking shape. Seriously, what is not to love about the baseball season starting anew? New players to root for, underdog young guys playing their hearts out trying to make the squad, Canucks lighting the world on fire beating Team USA and still getting demoted to Pawtucket in 18 days - it's all beautiful.
I'll cover off on some of the highlights thus far in ST...
1) The "Put It On My Tab In Hell Feel-Good Story" of the spring of course is Captain Cavechrist's shoulder problem. I love Johnny, and I will forever appreciate his heroics in 2004, but he plays for the Douchebags now. Plus, he pulled the "direspected me" card. I hate that card. It is complete and utter bullshit. What I would like to hear is an athlete come out once and say "In hindsight, I suppose I could have signed that deal that only paid me $10 Million freaking dollars a year, because I don't really have a problem living on that kind of money, and I loved that town. I guess I over-respected myself."
2) Fatty McFatFat is staying, and he's happy to be staying and finishing his career with a championship-caliber team, but he's pissed. Color me surprised. When is Wells not pissed? Honestly, every time I read a quote from him in the paper, and he sounds happy, I look around to see if I'm being filmed. The upside here is that in a couple days Selig will do something to take his mind off his spot in the rotation.
3) This is probably related to #2 above, but we will almost certainly unload a starter at some point. Reports are that it will be Arroyo, Clement, or Wells (in alpha order).
I am actually pleased that Clement is the least likely to go, because I think he is going to have a good year. It is physically impossible to perform worse than he did in the ALCS last year. I could go out and put up the line he put up. So I think psychologically he's hit bottom, and can start dealing with his fear.
Arroyo is young, cheap, and healthy, but has been teed off on in every appearance thus far. Teed off on by AA, AAA, and AAAA players, mind you. At this point we might, MIGHT be able to get Chip Ambres back for him. Huzzah. I assume he'll get back on track, and will probably fetch the most in return.
Wells, historically speaking, will get the most play. He throws down a bunch of innings, is a lefty, and is a crafty veteran who knows how to win. He also hides ribs and tater tots in his glove during games so he can stay in shape (round) and is coming off a knee injury. Bad knees don't like supporting giant piles of fat, so there is a small question mark there.
I myself am for keeping these guys until June to see what pans out. Hopefully one or all have made headway, and we can assume that every Cubs and Yankees starter will be on the DL by then.
3) What do we do with the Italian Scullion, Tony Graffanino? He deserves to play everyday somewhere, just not here. The problem is, noone needs a 2B. Hell, Jim Bowden has two of them in the starting lineup. Tony deserves better than his current situation but the Sox need to get some value for him, and it will be tough to do so, given that noone would give up a draft pick to sign him as an FA.
4) We seem to have a small issue at third. Who will play there - Mike Lowell, or the white chalk outline of Mike Lowell's corpse? When Ken Rosenthal is saying things like you've lost your "body quickness", it's not good. He sits behind a desk for a living, so I'm guessing he's not playing ping pong for China in the next Olympics either. If he's saying you're slow, you might just be slow. Looking on the bright side here, at least this loss of quickness hasn't impacted Lowell's mind or spirit yet. That would be tragic.
5) Related to #4; if in fact Lowell is done, and assuming Youks has no problem stepping on the outline of his corpse all day, can JT Snow play first everyday? According to the aforementioned Rosenthal, JT, a professional athlete, "lacks athleticism"! You can clearly see how this would be a problem. It would be like me unearthing the dire news that Ken Rosenthal lacked "reportercism". How do they do their jobs? What I would do if I were Theo in this case would be to trade a pitcher for Soriano, then act outraged when Alfonso wouldn't switch to first base. That's how I would do it.
6) Keith Foulke is getting injections in his knees to prepare him for the season. If Foulke return to 2004 form (and his knees look like Lisa Rinna) that is huge for the Sox. If he accomplishes this without angering every Sox fan in the northeast, it will be even better. Boston players who hate Boston is sort of becoming a trouble spot. Boston players and fans who hate the Boston media, also a small problem.
Those are my key points for discussion at this point. Some people seem to be spending a lot of time worrying about who our back-up catcher will be, but I'm here to tell you, it's Josh Bard. Look around the league - there is no group of people on earth as homogeneous as the back-up catcher. They are like the security guards (also known as "red shirts") on Star Trek. They serve one purpose: that's what they do. When they go away, you don't care. Dougie was an extreme aberration here because he had one big year in 2004 that will remain an outlier in his statistical dossier forever. Also, there was the perception that he scored a lot of tail. Once we traded him, we were in the realm of the Bardhuckerty, and at that point it no longer matters.
I'm winded. Let's get to April!