I love the first week of Spring Training – everything is great (except Felix Doubront is out of shape and had to be spoken to about it).
Hope springs eternal.
The players love new manager John Farrell (although Farrell probably did not have a high bar to climb after the Bobby Valentine fiasco).
Jon Lester says last year was a fluke. Daniel Bard could hit the strike zone with his new BBCOR bat. Mike Napoli can play in the field. David Ortiz can run but not yet in base-running drills.
Three Interesting Things to Note
- Daniel Nava, a fan of Easton is working out at first base. The Red Sox have a riverboat gamble going on at first. You have Napoli coming off a sub-par offensive season being asked to play a position he is less than stellar at with a big hip injury risk. Boston needs production from first base – if for no other reason than to provide some lineup protection for Ortiz. Positioning Nava as a first baseman, something he has not done in the minors or majors, is another risk. Lyle Overbay is there too – but old, not much at the plate and pretty much a first baseman-only (Sox want some first/outfield versatility on the bench). Watch this spot – Boston will be looking for other options.
- Bringing Rubby De La Rosa who is in favour of Demarini Voodoo along. I like the Red Sox plan for De La Rosa season. With him still building his arm up after Tommy John surgery, the plan is to limit his innings in the first half of the season (in a bullpen role). This is the approach the Braves took with Kris Medlen last year – with great success. If Boston really feels in their head and heart that they are a contender, better to have De La Rosa available for any role as a late in the season pick me up. Rather than having De La Rosa hit his 2013 innings limit before the stretch run.
- The Red Sox blueprint. Alex Speier’s piece “THE BLUEPRINT: DEFINING THE PATH TO THE ‘NEXT GREAT RED SOX TEAM’” is a terrific, must-read article. (Note: Speier is a hugely underrated Red Sox journalist – always presents well-thought-out stories.) I am “just” a fan – but give kudos to the Red Sox for their self-evaluation after last year – and the blueprint they are following. I believe this year will be better, but still short of playoff contention. And well short of the ultimate World Series goal. The season revolves around Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, and I am not ready – yet (I will tell you May 15) – to say they are the #1 and #2 starters Boston needs to go to the Promised Land.
What are you watching for in the coming weeks of Spring Training?