Miscellaneous Thoughts On The Precipice Of Spring Training

A few thoughts as we wait out that anticipatory time between Truck Day and Spring Training:

  • Is Roy Oswalt even really worth the effort? The guy doesn’t seem to want to pitch in Boston, and honestly if that’s the attitude he’s going to have, I’d rather not dish out seven million dollars to have him ship up to Fenway only to have him complain about his back all season. He only pitched 139 innings last year, and keep in mind that he’s never pitched in the American League. This is a John Smoltz redux waiting to happen. How about just saving the money and playing with options come July 31st?
  • It still hasn’t really hit me that Jonathan Papelbon is gone. How weird is it going to be when that first save opportunity roles around and someone else comes trotting out of the bullpen? Pap certainly had rough spots over his last three seasons (this one jumps to mind for some reason, and of course this, and this). But you have to respect what he did: 15.1 total WAR, a career 2.60 FIP, and 10.67 K/9. He was a goofball, and there’s no way you give him the type of money the Phillies did, but I have to admit, it’s going to be weird to see him in a different uniform. Nothing will match the exhilaration of these first two chords, like the first notes of the Jaw’s theme, as Pap made his way out for the ninth. Best of luck to him next year.

  • Your Opening Day lineup in Detroit:
  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
  5. David Ortiz, DH
  6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  7. Cody Ross, RF
  8. Mike Aviles, SS
  9. Ryan Sweeney, LF
  • Listening to: Holocene by Bon Iver. Great to see Justin Vernon get his due at the Grammy’s, even if he spent most of the month bad mouthing them. Also, how can someone be nominated for best new artist when their first album came out four years ago?
  • The Rays are looking scary good. The combo of Carlos Pena/Luke Scott wil produce more than the Casey Kotchman/Johnny Damon duo did. Add top prospect Matt Moore to that rotation and the Sox are really in trouble. They scare me much more than the Yankees.
  • Is it sad that I’m actually looking forward to Daisuke Matsuzaka’s return mid-year? Call me sentimental, but it’d be great to see Bobby Valentine actually have an effect on the enigma of a pitcher. Plus, he’s a better fifth option than anyone currently on the roster.
  • While we’re talking about Valentine and me being sentimental, I’m really rooting for the guy. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a fan of the hire, but the way he handled the press conference and his actions over the ensuing weeks really won me over. The guy cares. He has heart and he seems to truly be grateful to have won the job.
  • As I mentioned with passing on Roy Oswalt, I’m kind of coming around to the idea of improvising the fifth starting spot until the trade deadline. I think Aaron Cook will be the first option to fill the spot, but if he doesn’t work the minors are stocked with at least semi-viable options. (Yup, “semi-viable”, you know I’m talking myself into this one.) If Cook doesn’t work, give Andrew Miller two starts, if he doesn’t work turn to Vicente Padilla, if not him then John Maine, or Carlos Silva. One of these guys has to turn out at least half decently, right? Right? Save the money for the trade deadline when they could actually add a viable (not just semi-) piece.
  • I said this before the start of the season last year and I ended up being wrong, but I’ll make the same statement this year just for the heck of it: the NL East is wide open. Sure, the Phillies are the favorites, but their offense is looking worse and worse by the day, especially without Ryan Howard. The division is really hinging on the health of two starting pitchers: Josh Johnson and Stephen Strasburg. If both are healthy, the Marlins and the Nationals could definitely be in the mix.
  • Watching: Beginners. Definitely a strange year for movies, but in all the Oscar hype around the Artist (didn’t enjoy) and the Descendants (loved) this small film by Mike Mills has been lost in the mix. Christopher Plummer is up for Best Supporting Actor, which is completely deserved. It has some abstract storytelling and interesting ways of getting details across (subtitles for dogs) but I loved every minute of it. Other suggestions: The Tree of Life, 50/50, The Future, and Submarine.
  • Boston missed out on some great cheap relievers over the offseason: Hong Chih Kuo, Kerry Wood, and Joel Zumaya to name a few. Mike Gonzalez is still available and definitely would be worth a look.
  • If I had to pick a World Series Champion today it would be the Angels. It will be a dogfight for them to make the playoffs but once they do, only the Phillies have a better rotation, and Philadelphia’s offense isn’t even close to Anaheim’s.
  • Four months and counting for the Theo Epstein compensation….

Categories: Boston Red Sox

Alex Convery is a student at the University of Southern California where he studies screenwriting. He spends his time procrastinating. Follow him on twitter here: www.twitter.com/alexconvery

14 Responses to “Miscellaneous Thoughts On The Precipice Of Spring Training” Subscribe

  1. donna February 14, 2012 at 12:13 PM #

    speaking of Theo compensation… i do remember initially hearing it would be a significant player. Garza would fit that bill nicely and take care of lots of things all in one swell foop

    Theo, please, that would be a truly grand gesture – and Karma has a way of getting you, so think of it as "paying it forward" and just give the RS Garza and be done with it

    • ChipBuck February 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM #

      Significant compensation will not mean Matt Garza. That was a bit of a pipe dream, though it would have been nice. We're getting back a prospect or some sort of complimentary player at best.

      • Matthew B February 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM #

        Would it be too much in your opinion to ask for someone along the lines of Sczur? Or maybe someone along the lines of McNutt? I'd think we need a pitcher more than we need an outfielder in our minor leagues, but just spitballing more than anything.

  2. Matthew B February 14, 2012 at 1:37 PM #

    I understand the point about not caring to try anymore for Roy Oswalt, but is that really worse than cobbling together a 5th starter from the remnants of a handful of 30 somethings who are probably still shocked that they have the chance of making a major league team this year?
    The only way I'd be fine with not getting Oswalt is if they snag a solid middle of the year player, and I just don't foresee anything being more valuable than one more starter for a few months who you can at least rely on, when healthy.

  3. Marty H February 14, 2012 at 2:20 PM #

    I know that everyone thinks we should get Matt Garza for our departed St. Theo. I may be alone in this, but I didn't think Theo was all that good a GM. Yes, we had 2004 and 2007. Yes, every GM has their good moves and their not-so-good moves. Yes, he built up the organization (although anything would have been better than the Duquette disaster). All of that said, I think that Theo had a lot of good luck and made more bad moves than good.
    Forget, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Julio Lugo and Nancy Drew. We wouldn't have won in 2007 without Beckett. A trade that doesn't get made if Theo hadn't decided to take an early Halloween and try out the gorilla suit. The 2011 collapse had many causes. While Tampa Bay turns out stud after stud for its pitching staff, we have been stuck with a creaky, injury prone group. If we can't draft as well as Tampa Bay, is it too much to ask the organization to provide a competent medical staff?
    Another part of the collapse was the fact that our farm teams simply couldn't provide any major league ready talent to fill in the holes last September. Now, I have no problem with the talent given up for Adrian Gonzalez. But what about Victor Martinez? It is inexplicable to deplete the farm system for a player that you let walk. Two years later, Victor Martinez is gone and so is Justin Masterson.
    The way I see it, thanks to Theo, we are in danger of playing third banana in the AL East for quite a long time. I hope the commissioner buys into our smoke and mirrors and gives us a good player. (Because thanks to Theo, we need one.) But an honest evaluation wouldn't get us much more than an Ernie Banks rookie card.

    • Doc Hostage February 15, 2012 at 5:51 PM #

      Overall, I tend to agree with most of what you said. Free agency wise, Theo was horrid. Drew, Lugo, Dice-K, Lackey. But I think he did a pretty decent job in the farm system. Right now we are a bit depleted, yes, but prior to that: Pap, Jacoby, Pedroia, Youk, Lester, Clay, Bard. Some of those weren't his, but he also didn't trade them; Billy Beane was drooling over Youk's OBP, and remember the Santana trade he didn't make for Jacoby and Clay? And looking at some of the trades that were made were also phenominal, you mentioned Beckett, but what about Jason Bay for the next greatest closer ever? I don't remember what his name was either. I think Theo's minor league talent evaluation was pretty spot on, for the most part.

  4. Walt in Maryland February 14, 2012 at 4:05 PM #

    Re: The fifth starter. Look at what the Yankees got last season out of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, who were/are no better than Padilla, Cook, Doubront, et al.

    Oswalt sure sounds like a guy who doesn't want to pitch in Boston, and if that's the case, don't pursue him. It's a long season, and things will get a lot clearer once spring training and the regular season begin. There will be plenty of starting pitchers available in-season.

    As for Theo compensation, they're simply not getting Garza, so forget it. However, the compensation might be a serviiceable guy like Travis Wood.

  5. Tim February 14, 2012 at 4:25 PM #

    Complaining that we don't draft as well as TB is unfair. Until recently, TB's poor finishes allowed it a superior draft position.

  6. Walt in Maryland February 14, 2012 at 4:49 PM #

    The Victor Martinez trade enabled the Red Sox go get to Game 7 of the ALCS in 2009. He gave them another fine season in 2010. Sure, we'd love to have Masterson and Hagadone today, but the trade was a good one at the time, and I doubt that Marty H. was complaining. But the decision to let him leave as a free agent was also a good one.

    • Dave February 14, 2012 at 7:05 PM #

      Walt, are you high? The Sox were swept in the 2009 ALDS by the Angels and they made it to game 7 of the 2008 ALCS before Victor was on the team. Masterson WAS on that team.

  7. tonez February 14, 2012 at 5:17 PM #

    What no one is considering here is the precedent set by the Theo compensation case. If the Sox aren't properly compensated, and only end up with a mid/low level prospect, what is to stop them from going after any league exec knowing they will only have to give up a mid level prospect in return? Why not go after that TB think tank that everyone says drafts so well?

  8. Mr Punch February 14, 2012 at 9:53 PM #

    Agree on Oswalt. Injured pitchers with bad attitudes are exactly what the Sox don't need. What they did need was someone healthy and not too far from average.

    Unfortunately, unless they're very lucky (they not only need to find enough pitching, they need to figure out who it is pretty fast) the Sox are likely to be out of it by the trade deadline, at which point they'll be working Dice-K back in.

  9. Gerry February 15, 2012 at 1:36 PM #

    I think it is time to accept that:
    1. Bard, like so very many good RP's before him, will probably be that above average #4. Saying he won't goes against historical fact.
    2. Oswalt, who I originally hoped for, is just as likely to pitch too few innings due to his injury history, in the same way Bard will be on a pitch count. At this point Bard probably = Oswalt.
    3. Though Oswalt + Bard make the Sox rotation outstanding, at least through mid-season (when Daisuke and the trade deadline arrive) we are probably (definitely) selling short the potential of one or more of a healthy Cook, Padilla, Silva, Doubront, Tazawa, Miller, Acevas to be an above average #5.
    4. IMO the only weakness of the rotation is replacing one of the starting big three. But very few teams can replicate the performance of their top three. This is not unique to the Sox, and here is where prospects like Tazawa or Wilson may, when needed, be fully ready by that time, in addition to the trade possibilities that will emerge as the season progresses.

    We will know soon enough how well these AAA signings and prospects produce, but the Sox don't need them all to rise to the occasion, just a couple, and the talent is undeniably there to do so.

  10. cresthillcharlie February 16, 2012 at 7:10 PM #

    Put "Beginners" on my must see list.