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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 17, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4063222)
As a programming note, I'm planning to do a little bloggy spring training, increasing my posting rate through March to get up to the one or twice a week level I want to maintain for the regular season. So ST should wake up a little from here on in.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: February 17, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4063238)
...and when you hear that a player is in the best shape of his life, what you learn from that is that he isn’t injured and he’s in shape to play baseball.


uhh, part of the running joke is that we get pretty much no information from the 'best shape of his career' puff pieces. E.G., You can find lots of such stories about Matsuzaka last year, and he was 7 starts away from Tommy John surgery.

I do share the spring optimism, though. I already have a bunch of tickets, and may get some more tomorrow because I "won" the opportunity to by Monster seats (although I would be getting Monster standing room).
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 17, 2012 at 10:39 AM (#4063242)
E.G., You can find lots of such stories about Matsuzaka last year, and he was 7 starts away from Tommy John surgery.
And when his elbow injury was diagnosed, the pieces stopped.

A player who is currently known to be injured is very different from a player who is currently not known to be injured. When we learn we can slot Clay Buccholz into the latter camp, we gain information and we learn good news.

It's true that saying he's "not injured" is overstating our knowledge, but I think "pretty much no information" is wrong, too. Last spring, JD Drew showed up dogged by multiple injuries and never got it together. There was nothing about him being in the best shape of his life, because he was always currently known to be injured.
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 17, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4063244)
The one I'm interested in is Bobby Jenks. I think it was Cafardo who said he was "shocked" (or some similar word) at how thin Jenks was.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 17, 2012 at 10:45 AM (#4063248)
From Pete Abe's notebook today:
Bobby Jenks, who appeared in only 19 games last season because of assorted injuries, arrived in camp having lost significant weight. He is recovering from back surgery and may not be able to pitch for several weeks
I guess losing weight is good, but unable to pitch and recovering from back surgery is exactly the sort of bad news that can be contrasted with the news you gain from "best shape of his life" puff pieces. I'm still expecting 0 WAR from Jenks in 2012.
   6. Mattbert Posted: February 17, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4063254)
Taking advantage of my newfound proximity to many clubs' spring training facilities, I will be seeing the Sox play the Orioles in early March and will try to see them at least once more before spring training is over. I look forward to posting fraudulent reports here about virtually every player on the roster being in the best shape of his life and looking like a monster for 2012.
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: February 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM (#4063258)
And when his elbow injury was diagnosed, the pieces stopped.


right, but he was injured before that, so if all those "best shape..." articles indicated that he wasn't injured, it was bad info.
   8. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 17, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4063259)
Bobby Jenks is better positioned for the job of pinch runner than he's ever been.
   9. Textbook Editor Posted: February 17, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4063271)
Jenks is a real wild card. I've written him off in my mind, so even LA production would be a happy event to me.
   10. dave h Posted: February 17, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4063286)
On the subject of optimism, I feel like the end to last year and the offseason has sapped a lot of it from this team. Is that going to be reflected in CFBPS?
   11. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 17, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4063290)
Taking advantage of my newfound proximity to many clubs' spring training facilities, I will be seeing the Sox play the Orioles in early March and will try to see them at least once more before spring training is over. I look forward to posting fraudulent reports here about virtually every player on the roster being in the best shape of his life and looking like a monster for 2012.


Be careful with what you write. Darren will say you're a jinx!
   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 17, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4063292)
Is that going to be reflected in CFBPS?
The CFBPS engine is undergoing extensive talk therapy, analysis, and dream interpretation. The period of melancholic incorporation of a lost object is normal to mourning, but it cannot be rushed. I expect the CFBPS to be in the best psychic shape of its life by March.
   13. Mattbert Posted: February 17, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4063306)
Be careful with what you write. Darren will say you're a jinx!

Hence the admittedly fraudulent reports...or are they? Darren will be responsible for deciding if it's a jinx...or a reverse jinx!
   14. dave h Posted: February 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4063310)
I expect the CFBPS to be in the best psychic shape of its life by March.


That's good. I can actually see a scenario where CFBPS gets depressed and puts out numbers that are far too low - say even lower than the previous track record of a player, which would be a ridiculous projection.
   15. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 17, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4063316)
Hence the admittedly fraudulent reports...or are they? Darren will be responsible for deciding if it's a jinx...or a reverse jinx!


You are wise. From you I could learn much.
   16. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: February 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4063334)
Bobby Jenks indeed slimmed down. He doesn't have man-boobs anymore.
   17. tfbg9 Posted: February 17, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4063434)
Wake is retiring. A season and a half too late, but there you go.
   18. Mattbert Posted: February 17, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4063468)
I are a sad panda.
   19. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 17, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4063478)
The time had clearly come but it is going to be weird to watch a Red Sox season without Tim Wakefield as a part of it. One of my favorite players to root for in any sport.
   20. Textbook Editor Posted: February 17, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4063495)
The top of the 13th in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS was probably the most tense half-inning of baseball I watched in my entire life. I'm convinced that half-inning took 2-3 years off my life.

Link

All that said, he was one of the 25. Another one down. Who will be the last man standing, I wonder? Arroyo, I suppose...
   21. Squash Posted: February 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4063505)
The top of the 13th in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS was probably the most tense half-inning of baseball I watched in my entire life. I'm convinced that half-inning took 2-3 years off my life.

Yikes! Not being a Sox fan, that one isn't ingrained in my brain, but that's a crazy one.

What's wacky to me is that that postseason doesn't seem like THAT long ago, yet it's coming up on eight years. What the hell is happening here?
   22. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: February 17, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4063528)
Aww, I'm really going to miss Wakefield. Sure he stunk, but I can accept that given his history with the team.
   23. Bob Evans Posted: February 17, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4063554)
As a White Sox fan, I'm glad to see that Bobby J. has gotten himself in better shape. He was one of my favorites from the 2005 team and I wish him all the best.

Also, MCoA, nice intro. Fun to read.
   24. Dave Cyprian Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4064394)
Anyone else reading The Art of Fielding? I'm halfway through and getting pumped for baseball as a result. Highly recommend it.
   25. Darren Posted: February 20, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4064891)
Don't try to blame me. Look at your track record, Jose--It's scary!

Mattbert, the jury's still out on you. Don't mess it up!
   26. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 20, 2012 at 04:45 PM (#4064902)
What's wacky to me is that that postseason doesn't seem like THAT long ago, yet it's coming up on eight years. What the hell is happening here?
I think--and admittedly this is hard to diagnose over the computer--you're getting old.
   27. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 20, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4064906)
Don't try to blame me. Look at your track record, Jose--It's scary!


Well there's that. 12 days 'til Jose hits Ft. Myers. That Carl Crawford is not going to play while I'm there has to bode well for his season.
   28. Mattbert Posted: February 21, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4065544)
Anyone else reading The Art of Fielding? I'm halfway through and getting pumped for baseball as a result. Highly recommend it.

Wifebert gave it to me for Christmas. It is three deep in the To Read pile, but I might have to bump it up now that spring training is already upon us.
   29. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 21, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4065613)
Corresponding to the "best shape of his life" articles are the "new slider" / "new mechanics" stories that tell us which pitchers are going to be super-great this year.

Bob McClure, it turns out, is very good with the media and Alex Speier (new best beat writer in town) has an awesome discussion with McClure covering the new pitchers and the starter conversions. Some highlights:
Dan Bard: “With Daniel, he was off line,” said McClure. “You can do it in relief because you’re only throwing 20 pitches, 30 on a bad day. So you won’t tire out and you can still kind of fix it, but if you’re going to throw 100, pitch seven, eight, nine innings, you’ve got to be in position where it’s the easiest to do that. We just worked a little bit on alignment. With Bard, it wasn’t much. It was getting his back foot square to where he was going to throw it, because it was pointed in the direction of going closed.”

Unsurprisingly, given his stuff, makeup and success, Bard has made extremely favorable impressions on McClure. He has already cleaned up his alignment, to the point where McClure -- who compared Bard’s ability to generate velocity without requiring substantial drive off the mound with that of Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Don Sutton -- is convinced that the right-hander has a delivery that can work as a starter.

“Can a guy repeat this type of delivery? Daniel’s is very simple. My guess is yes,” said McClure. “Whether he can start, I don’t know. It’s a whole different gig. But can he repeat what he’s doing 100 times, 120 times, 130 times? I believe he can.

“It’s a very simple, simple delivery. At first look, can he repeat his delivery where he can get the ball down there where he wants to throw it? I would think he can because his delivery is so simple.”
Andrew Miller: “I think Andrew can be a starter,” said McClure. “But I don’t believe he can be a starter stepping two feet across his body. I don’t think you can repeat and command a baseball by being that off line, then having to redirect as the ball is coming out of your hand. I just don’t think you can do that. I don’t know anybody that’s accurate that steps that far across his body.

“When Andrew’s pitched,” McClure continued, “have you seen consistency where he’s missed by just six, eight, 10 inches? Have you seen five quality starts in a row where they got hits to get him out of there, or was it base on balls, pitching behind the count?

“That’s what him and I are going through right now. The more you’re on line, the easier it is to repeat. The reason you’re not on line is you get on your toe and push yourself that way, so we’re going to the exact cause first – what’s causing it? He seems to understand. [In a Sunday bullpen session] he did well at it – very well. Just blew me away. He was maybe this far across his body – a footstep, maybe, which is a big improvement. It’s not easy to do.”
Also, Silva looks great and so does Padilla.
   30. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: February 21, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4065631)
I fall for those "Player X is working on a new cutter/changeup" stories every year even though 99.9% of the time it never amounts to anything, because occasionally, every so often, baseball is amazing and guys like Cliff Lee and Jose Bautista come out of nowhere.
   31. Dan Posted: February 21, 2012 at 04:00 PM (#4065659)
It worked for Beckett last year. He added the cutter and it helped him tremendously. Well I guess he started mixing in cutters in 2010, but he didn't really have a good cutter until he developed it last spring.
   32. Mattbert Posted: February 21, 2012 at 04:56 PM (#4065710)
I find that sort of chat the most encouraging with guys like Bard and Miller, who are reportedly two of the smartest guys on the team and would therefore seem to be the most likely candidates to quickly absorb and implement a mechanical overhaul.
   33. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4071932)
This seems like the place to throw this little bit of meaninglessness...the lineup for the first baseball game the Sox play under Bobby Valentine!!! (I don't think the Sox are exactly making winning a priority). According to Pete Abe Daniel Bard and seven others will follow Ace to the mound pitching an inning each.

RED SOX
Jose Iglesias SS
Che-Hsuan Lin RF
Ryan Lavarnway C
Josh Kroeger DH
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Lars Anderson 1B
Jason Repko CF
Oscar Tejeda 2B
Alex Hassan LF

Pitching: RHP Alfredo Aceves

More From PeteAbe; "In our unending quest to bring you coverage of today's crucial B game, we can report that the order of Red Sox pitchers will be Aceves, Bard, Mortensen, Carlson, Pena, Wilson, Britton, Inman and Thomas."
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 01, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4072259)
What's a Josh Kroeger?

EDIT: So, apparently, this is a Josh Kroeger. Got to the high minors at 20, cuppa coffee at 21, and stuck in AAA for nearly a decade since. Weird career, appears to have peaked at 21.
   35. tfbg9 Posted: March 01, 2012 at 08:09 PM (#4072312)
If Padilla didn't look great, who'd have the guts to tell him?
   36. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 06, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4074891)
You know who else is in the best shape of his life? Bobby Valentine!

From Pete Abraham at the Globe, on Bobby Valentine bringing new energy to Red Sox spring training:
To watch Valentine over the course of a routine spring training day is to understand that bench coach Tim Bogar may not necessarily be joking when he says, “I think there are two or three of them. He’s everywhere all at once. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen."
...
Comparisons with former manager Terry Francona are almost unfair. Under Francona, who led the team to two championships, the Red Sox treated spring training as a tedious requisite. The general idea was to avoid injury and brush up on fundamentals. That worked well for the bulk of Francona’s tenure. But consecutive third-place finishes marked by a historic September collapse last season stamped the Red Sox as a team in need of change. Francona was forced out and Valentine arrived two months later after a drawn-out search.
...
Players who had grown accustomed to Francona’s less frenzied style weren’t sure what to expect from Valentine. But he has already won over the team’s longest-tenured player, David Ortiz, with his approach.

“Bobby is watching every little thing and fixing it now,’’ Ortiz says. “So when the season starts you’re on top of your game. He knows what it takes to get ready for the season. He wants to improve things. Trust me, I’m down with that.’’

As the fog lifts, Valentine grabs a bat and heads for an outlying field to work with left fielder Carl Crawford, an expensive free agent whose first season with the Sox was a failure.

Despite his great speed, Crawford did not have a single bunt hit last season and has only 20 in his 10-year career. A speedy infielder in his youth who was a first-round draft pick of the Dodgers, Valentine cannot fathom wasting such a weapon. So Crawford is getting a private lesson.

“Let the angle of the bat work for you. No poking at the ball,’’ Valentine says as Crawford drops a perfect bunt down. “Nice, Carl. Very nice!’’
I think Abraham gets it right in the comparison to Francona. There wasn't anything wrong with Tito's approach, but after seven years of low-key, Valentine's new energy and added focus on skills, instruction, and training is a good thing. Valentine's approach should have an expiration date, as well, but I expect it to pay dividends in the short- and hopefully medium-term.

Also, apparently Padilla threw his semi-ephus in his first outing yesterday. He's in midseason form, obviously.
   37. Dan Posted: March 08, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4076931)
Comparisons with former manager Terry Francona are almost unfair. Under Francona, who led the team to two championships, the Red Sox treated spring training as a tedious requisite. The general idea was to avoid injury and brush up on fundamentals. That worked well for the bulk of Francona’s tenure. But consecutive third-place finishes marked by a historic September collapse last season stamped the Red Sox as a team in need of change. Francona was forced out and Valentine arrived two months later after a drawn-out search.


This hasn't gotten nearly enough play in discussion here. The last few seasons the Red Sox really did half ass spring training, and came out of the gate slow each time. Last year was the worst of those, and while the September collapse overshadows it, if the Red Sox hadn't spent the first 2 weeks of the season doing stuff they should've gotten done in spring training, the lead would've been even bigger by September anyway. The 2011 Red Sox spent their first 2 weeks of the regular season looking so rusty and unprepared to play baseball that they might as well have skipped ST entirely.

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