It’s Truck Day!!!
It’s Truck Day! I know some mock it goshdarn it I love me some Truck Day. Anything that says “Spring and baseball are right around the corner” is A-OK in my book.
Of course I’m not going to let Spring Training lie. As always I plan on going down to Ft. Myers to do my part to ruin careers, seasons and even lives. For the record I was at Spring Training in both 2004 and 2007 so the Sox CAN win despite my jinxing skills. I’m curious to see how Spring Training is this year.
Last year there was a definite energy in the way things were being run. Valentine was notably present and active all over the new complex. My observations at the time suggested a pretty upbeat camp and nothing obvious in terms of the troubles that came. I expect Farrell’s camp will be more in keeping with Francona’s more, pick your word; professional, businesslike, sedate, boring, camps. For what it’s worth it seemed that last year the minor leaguers were not being worked as hard as they had been in the past. I don’t know if that was organizational or a Valentine thing or a Jose-perception thing though.
Despite that I think this year’s camp has the chance to be fairly interesting. Coming on the heels of 2011’s collapse and the big change in the manager’s office there were all manner of things going on. This year the Sox head to camp with a fair amount of certainty in place considering this is a team that won 69 games a year ago. Everything just feels more settled than it did twelve months ago. Off the cuff a few things I’ll be looking for;
1. Integration with minor leaguers – For those who don’t know prior to last year the Sox’ Spring home was segregated. The minor leaguers were about 3 miles away from the big boys. Despite the physical move to bring everyone together the groups were still pretty segregated last year. I wonder if this year the Sox try to integrate the minor leaguers a bit more. This could provide a bit of “this is how you do it” instruction to the youngsters while also putting some onus on professionalism from the veterans.
2. Controversies - The Sox aren’t exactly loaded with controversies heading to Florida but there are a few potential problems;
Alfredo Aceves - Aceves is a one man crazy clownshoes and it’s not hard to envision him butting heads with Farrell. His absence for the WBC probably is a plus in this regard.
Andrew Bailey - Bailey seems a pretty steady guy but he also has been stripped of his closer’s title and while his performance in 2012 certainly made that reasonable it would be a shocker if he weren’t frustrated.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – The Sox brought in David Ross this off-season and Salty has been mentioned as potential trade bait. For his flaws the guy has hit 41 homers the last two seasons, done a credible job as a starting catcher and probably has a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
Farrell should be heading into camp with some authority both from the club and the support of the fans. If that authority was going to be challenged these are three guys who could do so.
3. WBC Impact – The WBC is not going to impact the Sox as it has in years’ past. The Sox only have four players heading to national teams and none of them are likely to lose out on any opportunities because of it (Aceves, Victorino, Bogaerts, de la Torre).
This may create a bit of an opportunity for the outfielders who get to jump into Victorino’s spot. Brentz, Hazelbaker and Hassan (stress fracture in his foot…never mind) may all get a bit more playing time, or at least playing time in more high profile situations and against stiffer competition than they otherwise would have.
4. Daniel Bard – One thing I remember from last year but didn’t notice in my piece was that Bard was consistently last in his group when they did their outfield running. I don’t know if he is just slow or was in fact out of shape but it struck me since he looks like a guy who would do well (I didn’t expect him to be trailing Lester for example). I’ll be curious to see if that is true this year and what if any impact it might have. Today’s story on Boston.com says Bard looks like “his old self.”
Anyway, I just had to get something out there because I’m getting excited. I’ll make the Southwest Florida Chamber of Commerce happy and say that if you have the means to head down to Ft. Myers to do so. It’s a ton of fun, flights are pretty reasonable and there is a lot to do including plenty for misguided family members who aren’t baseball fans.
Jose Can Still Seabiscuit
Posted: February 05, 2013 at 04:27 PM | 34 comment(s)
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