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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Report From the Fort

Photos from the first two games I attended

With the season just two weeks and change away your man Jose has been on the scene for a vibrant and electrifying bit of spring training baseball.  OK, the baseball season is closing in and Jose has been on the scene but I wouldn’t describe it as a vibrant and electrifying time.  I suspect I’m not the only Red Sox fan feeling a bit of malaise with the season about to start and the club having a lot of questions looming over not just this season but the long term outlook.  Still there are reasons for optimism and I’ve seen a bit of good, a bit of bad and a bit of ugly down here.  I’ll be hitting games on Friday and Monday coming up so if you have any questions or players you want me to scope out let me know.

On the big club it is business as usual.  Xander Bogaerts seems to be moving pretty freely with no obvious effects from the ankle injury that delayed his game time.  There are not a ton of position battles though Jose Peraza is getting a fair amount of good praise for his work with his glove at second base.  My hunch is that Michael Chavis may not be sliding into an immediate starting role or at least an unchallenged one to open the season.  I’m guessing that Ron Roenicke is going to mix and match among Peraza, Chavis and Mitch Moreland and keep all three players involved but more of a 4 or 5 days a week thing rather than an every day thing until one player separates himself.  Andrew Benintendi’s swing still looks longer than it did in 2018 to me.  I wonder if he is getting a bit too focused on trying to hit homers.

On the mound I have felt pretty good about what I’ve seen.  I was literally in the first row behind the plate for Martin Perez’ start on Sunday.  From that vantage point you gain such an appreciation for MLB hitters, I don’t know how these guys ever touch his change up.  Somewhat negatively Perez has a bit of Jon Lester in him in that when calls go against him (as they seemed to Sunday with a tight zone) he has body language that makes it clear to everyone in the ballpark that he is dissatisfied with the call.  One guy I was impressed with was Colten Brewer.  I’m not a big fan of the righty but he pitched 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday and looked sharp.  Even during his rough year last year he showed an ability to go multiple innings at a time and the Sox are going to need someone to fill that kind of role this year.

Matt Barnes looked very good on Tuesday as well.  I think he is due for a strong bounce back season.  Even with his struggles last year he had an outrageous K rate and swing and miss rate.  I haven’t seen Darwinzon Hernandez yet unfortunately.  Brian Johnson gutted his way through three innings on Tuesday.  He was getting to two strikes on hitters but could not find a way to put them away.  That is not a new problem for Johnson but it is one to be addressed.  One other guy I thought looked good was Heath Hembree who was looking a bit like Mike Timlin in his delivery.  I don’t remember him being quite so precise with his delivery and I wonder if there have been some adjustments made.

Other notes, thoughts and tales;

- I wound up in a nice chat Tuesday morning with a woman and her mom as we all watched Triston Casas work out on field 4 (I think it was 4, the numbering system loses me sometimes).  Anyway, the woman was clearly a big fan of his and the reason became evident when she revealed that she was his aunt and her mom was of course his grandmother.  They were both clearly very proud and she explained that the 6’5” Casas gets his height from her side of the family.  Casas’ dad (her brother) is 6’4” and she is 5’10”.  They were really nice people.  Casas impressed me in a way that I remember Deven Marrero impressing me.  Every time he did a drill or had a spare moment he went out of his way to talk to a coach.  He clearly wasn’t resting on his laurels but was hard at work gaining information.

- Unfortunately I did not get to see much more of the minor league camp.  I was hoping to get there early on Sunday but the mojitos went down a bit easily on Saturday and I was moving slowly.  I did see a funny moment when a fan asked “Downs” for an autograph and the guy said “do you want Jerry or Jeter”. It was of course Jerry Downs the older and less heralded of the Downs’ brothers.

- The nice people at JetBlue Park are in year nine and still haven’t figured out how to manage the egress from the parking lot.  Seriously, I can drive away from the Fenway lots easier than the lot at JetBlue.

- I had a brief chat with Elih Marrero walking towards the clubhouses.  He was very friendly with me then as we peeled off our separate ways I caught him being similarly pleasant with a few other fans.  That was nice to see and given that he has a 50 game amphetamine suspension looming gave me a good feeling about him.  I’ll be rooting for him when he comes back.

- Great moments in being a dope on Tuesday.  I went to the men’s room in the sixth inning and when I came back I couldn’t find my pen to keep score with.  Fortunately I had a spare (always be ready) and then in the ninth inning I realized I had put the original pen above my ear.  This wouldn’t be a big deal except this is what I ALWAYS do when I go to the men’s room during the game.  Ugh.

- I met a lovely couple from Scotland on Sunday and then ran into them on Tuesday.  Jack and his wife (I forget her name) were incredibly friendly.  They come to spring training every year and try to get to Boston in September though this year they will not be due to some other commitments.

- I’m not sure what to make of the souvenirs this year.  I couldn’t find any t-shirts that referenced 2020 Spring Training, just generic spring training t-shirts.  Also, one of the things I do every year at spring training is get my copy of the media guide.  It seemed odd that they didn’t have it for sale on Tuesday but this morning I saw The Athletic has a story about this topic.  I haven’t read it yet but evidently the upheaval of the winter has translated into the guide not being ready.

- I don’t know if Jonathan Arauz can play but dude has some 80 grade hair.

- On the photos linked above my friends’ 11 and 7 year old were watching the game on Sunday when they saw me behind the plate.  They requested I stick out my tongue so I obliged.

Anyway, if you have specific players you are interested in let me know and I’ll see what I can find.

Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: March 11, 2020 at 10:58 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: March 11, 2020 at 11:12 PM (#5929777)
This is great stuff. Thanks as always.

I got the sense in an interview with Roenicke that he's looking at Ryan Weber for the #4 rotation spot or in an "opener" role. Have/will you seen him at all this spring?
   2. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: March 11, 2020 at 11:16 PM (#5929779)
I haven’t yet. Coronavirus issues aside it looks like the scheduled starters for the games on Friday and Monday will be Perez and EdRod again unfortunately.
   3. Darren Posted: March 13, 2020 at 09:51 AM (#5930279)
The player pics are awesome, but I really want to know more about the cool guy in the snazzy shirt!

BTW, sorry this trip has taken a crappy turn.
   4. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: March 13, 2020 at 11:45 AM (#5930332)
Thanks, it isn’t that crappy. It just means I get a couple more days by the pool than at JetBlue Park.
   5. jmurph Posted: March 13, 2020 at 11:52 AM (#5930335)
Yeah if you're gonna have your vacation plans abruptly changed, better to be there than elsewhere, I guess.
   6. karlmagnus Posted: March 13, 2020 at 12:35 PM (#5930345)
Sox now looking smart. You always want to do your luxury tax cap reset the year they cancel the season!
   7. villageidiom Posted: March 13, 2020 at 05:26 PM (#5930447)
All those people saying Boston really needed Mookie Betts this season are suddenly very quiet.
   8. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 16, 2020 at 01:06 PM (#5930967)

All those people saying Boston really needed Mookie Betts this season are suddenly very quiet.

If the season is cancelled, what happens with player contracts? Would Betts be a FA? Would he still be beholden to LA for a year?
   9. bunyon Posted: March 16, 2020 at 01:29 PM (#5930986)
8 is a great question. If MLB rules that player contracts reset to their status at the start of 2020, I'd expect no 2021 season either.

   10. villageidiom Posted: March 16, 2020 at 01:29 PM (#5930988)
None of the dates in the contracts change due to a stoppage of play for any reason. Betts will still be a FA at the end of this year, assuming no contract extension is pursued.

To be clear, I was joking in #7 as a followup to km's #6. I wasn't trying to make any kind of absurd I-told-ya-so statement or anything.
   11. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 16, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5931000)
So Betts very well could go on to be a Red Sox for life? Gotta dream about something positive, right?
   12. villageidiom Posted: March 16, 2020 at 01:41 PM (#5931003)
8 is a great question. If MLB rules that player contracts reset to their status at the start of 2020, I'd expect no 2021 season either.
There is no way MLB could do that without approval from MLBPA, and there's no way MLBPA will allow the precedent of MLB simply deciding the players shall temporarily lose their rights for the sake of the teams.

Having said that, the language in the Uniform Player Contract stipulates:
This contract is subject to federal or state legislation, regulations, executive or other official orders or other governmental action, now or hereafter in effect respecting military, naval, air or other governmental service, which may directly or indirectly affect the Player, Club or the League and subject also to the right of the Commissioner to suspend the operation of this contract during any national emergency during which Major League Baseball is not played.
I interpret the bolded part as saying Manfred can suspend pay, and other benefits as provided by the contract, during a work stoppage related to a national emergency. I don't interpret "suspend the operation of this contract" as deferring free agency, but I suppose it's possible. As mentioned above I suspect MLBPA will not agree with that interpretation.

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