1. The big story this week is the shutdown of Big Papi. The Nation is scrambling to try to figure out how bad Papi’s heels are, how long he’ll be out, and what the Sox will do in the mean time (although the Maineiacs were on this back on March 3). Today, John Farrell told the media that “we envision it being a little bit of a rotation”. Thanks for the insight John. This probably means that several players will get some time at DH to get guys some at bats and some days off in the field. Nava, Gomes, Napoli, Carp, Sweeney, and Salty all seem like candidates to get some DH at bats in Papi’s absence. Some good news today came in the form of a Nick Cafardo tweet (as much as you want to trust Cafardo) that claims a source of his told him the Sox’ training staff does not expect Papi’s heels to be a long term situation. Let’s all hope that Papi rests his heels, gets back into the lineup by mid-April or early May, and commences to rake. Is it too late to change my pick of over 30 home runs for Papi? The biggest downside to Farrell’s acknowledgement that the DH will be a rotation is that it all but assures us that Jackie Bradley Jr will start the year in AAA. I had been hoping that JBJr would force his way into the everyday LF slot and Farrell would go with Gomes as the everyday DH. Speaking of JBJr...
2. Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to tear the cover off the ball. He is second among all AL players this spring with a .519 batting average and first among all AL players with a .618 OBP. Those are absurd numbers, and sure a lot of them have come against AAA pitchers or major leaguers just working on various pitches, but come on. Who would you rather have in the lineup - the electric JBJr, or Daniel Nava? Ryan Sweeney? even Jonny Gomes? Give me JBJr.
3. Alfredo Aceves is back from the World Baseball Classic where he was centrally-involved in a violent bench-clearing brawl. Fettuccine was thrown to the ground by a house of a Canadian outfielder, then had to be held back by Canadian coach and former major league all-star Larry Walker. Walker, in what is perhaps the best quote I have ever seen anywhere, said, “I had a hold of him, and I thought I saw Satan in his eyes”. Ladies and gentlemen, Alfredo Aceves! If you’re keeping score at home, so far just this spring Fettuccine has blown off a BP drill, was reprimanded by John Farrell and Juan Nieves, was a part of the ugliest scene in the history of the WBC, and was exposed as the embodiment of Satan. Oh yeah, and he’s probably unhappy with his role as a long reliever with the Red Sox. I’m no expert, but this is probably not going to end well.
4. Stephen Drew remains out with a concussion. All reports indicate that he should be fine within the next week or so, and that he will bounce back and be the opening day shortstop for the Red Sox. I say not so fast. My vast medical experience is alerting me that something may be amiss here. No, actually I have no medial experience whatsoever. But I do know that concussion symptoms tend to linger, just ask Ricky Craven (there’s a Maine-centric, obscure reference for you). It helps that this is Drew’s first concussion, but much like the Wu-Tang Clan, concussions ain’t nothin’ to f*** wit’. In fact, I’m going to make this prediction right now: Jose Iglesias starts more games at SS for Boston than anybody else in 2013.
5. Rubby De La Rosa, otherwise known as my man crush, has fallen apart. Is it too late to go back and change my over pick on 3 wins in 2013? De La Rick Vaughn could only manage to get two outs in the 7th inning on Monday, allowing four walks, two hits, and five earned runs. Last Wednesday, De La Wild Thing gave up three runs in two innings against the Pirates. John Farrell says it looks like he’s “overthrowing and not trusting his stuff as he should” (scroll down to next-to-last bullet point). Personally, I think Rubby should be fitted for some black frames with skulls and he’ll be fine.
6. In some depressing stat news, the Red Sox are last among AL teams with only 9 home runs this spring, and “lead” the AL teams by striking out 131 times. Let’s not sugarcoat it: without Big Papi’s bat in the middle of the order, this could be a really bad offensive team. To me, the more alarming of those statistics are the strikeouts. A team can get by without bashing a lot of dingers, but strikeouts are the death knell of offensive production. There’s a good chance we’re really s***ty on offense, which will put even more pressure on our pitching staff.
7. In better news, and speaking of that pitching staff, Jon Lester continues a very strong spring. Lester is second among all AL pitchers with a 1.29 ERA and is tied for the lead in innings pitched with 14. We all said it when Farrell was hired, but if Farrell does nothing else as manager of the Red Sox but get Jon Lester back on track as an ace pitcher, then hiring Farrell will have been worth it. For those of you out there preparing for your 2013 fantasy baseball drafts, do yourself a favor and target Jonny Lester is More-ter.
8. Speaking of good news, is anybody else taking delight in the fact that the Yankees are so desperate for corner infielders that they called Derek Lee to try to talk him out of retirement and reached out via Twitter to Chipper Jones? The Yankees are so desperate for old corner infielders that Kevin Millar got into the act. The sad part, if you're a Yankees fan, is that Kevin Millar right now would probably be an improvement on what they have at first base. Buahahaha! The day of reckoning is upon the Evil Empire. I’ll save my extended thoughts on the 2013 Yankees for an upcoming podcast, so for now let me just say, “hey Yankees, tell me how my a** tastes”.
There are abundant story lines already for the 2013 Red Sox season, and we’re still two and a half weeks away from Opening Day! Let’s get some discussion going below: