The boys come together at Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon. They can’t get started a moment too soon. Real winter weather in the Midwest and financial distress have made this winter insufferable. So let’s play ball.
Quite happily, 4/5 of the rotation and all of the starting field positions appear to be set heading into spring. There only seem to be three significant roster battles:
DH – With the potential Damon signing looming in the background, we appear headed to a “DH by committee” plan which will primarily include Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay. Earlier in his career A. Jones was an absolute stud for the Braves. If he can get his body right and find some of that magic, it would be outstanding for the Sox. That’s what this Sox fan is hoping for!
Fourth Bench Spot – Castro (Flowers needs to go to Charlotte to work on his defensive game), Kotsay, Jones, and Vizquel appear to be locks for bench spots, which leaves the need for another infielder, IMO. As happened last spring, this appears to be a battle between Nix and Lillibridge. Unless Lillibridge shows some real maturity at the plate, which he clearly lacked last year, this seems to be Nix’s job to lose.
Fifth Starter – Garcia and Hudson appear to be the main combatants here. I suspect that Garcia will get the spot because of his experience and his relationship with Ozzie. Frankly, I’d prefer that Hudson return to Charlotte to get a consistent spot in their rotation. Regardless of who fills this spot, I am thrilled not to have to be worried about the health and wellbeing of Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon anymore!
The bullpen will be some combination of Jenks, Putz, Thornton, Linebrink, Randy Williams, Pena, Dolsi, Carlos Torres, and Nunez. I have a hard time getting a good read on this, but there should be enough talent there to carry us into the regular season, and if not, “Coop will fix ’em!”
THIS JUST IN – As I am writing this WSCR in Chicago is reporting that the Sox have withdrawn their offer to Johnny Damon.
Looking forward to getting a great season started. We’ve got one of the three best rotations in the AL, and an overall better defensive team than we did last year. If Ozzie ball can score some runs, there is no reason to think that this team can’t win the division!
First roadie of the regular season begins in about ten minutes (weather permitting) against the Tigers.
Getz is down with an arm injury that will keep him out a day or two. Lillibridge starts in his place, and will leadoff. Too bad that Getz is injured, but I have to say that I like the way that Lillibridge handled himself in the leadoff spot on Saturday.
Time to win another series against a division opponent. Lets Go Sox!
The Sox bats came to life today against the Padres.
Paulie Walnuts went three for four with a homer and three RBI
Fields went three for three, A.J. went two for four, and Wise went two for six with a homer and four RBI in the leadoff slot.
According to reports, Ozzie is giving serious consideration to starting Wise in center and putting him in the leadoff slot. I question his defense, especially in an outfield that also features TCQ (who is adequate in the outfield) and Dye whose skills in the outfield are (lets find a politically correct term) fading.
Personally, I would prefer Anderson in the outfield and at the bottom of the lineup with either Getz, Beckham, or Lillibridge starting at second and at the top of the order, but nobody asked me.
According to Scott Merkin, the centerfield situation will get a little murkier before it gets clearer as Lillibridge will be played in center in coming games.
Thome has been held out of his last start with tightness in the back. Doesn’t sound like anything major, but when you get as old as Jim is, and you start talking about a back injury, that’s cause for concern.
The John Van Benschoten experiment may be ending, as he got touched up again for two runs in an innning, bringing his ST ERA to 9.82. Thanks for playing John, we have some lovely parting gits for you…..
On-field preparations for the 2009 season begin in earnest tomorrow for the Sox.
Three major position battles are tee’d up to take place this spring in center, at second, and at the end of the pitching rotation.
At second the battle will between Sox farmhand Chris Getz, and offseason acquisitions Brent Lillibridge and Jayson Nix. I expect that the slot will go to the guy who shows the greatest aptitude at the plate, as that man may, by default, end up as our leadoff hitter. I am betting on Lillibridge here.
At the end of the rotation Sox farmhands Clay Richard, and Aaron Poreda will compete with new acquisition, Jeff Marquez. Richard has the most experience at the big league lever. Poreda, by all accounts has the best stuff (although he probably needs to improve his second and third pitches to have success as a major league starter), and Marquez has a good sinker (which KW loves). I suspect that the spot will go to Richard with Poreda in the pen, and Marquez down in Charlotte (although options could alter that decision).
Finally, the black hole at center will be filled by Brian Anderson, Jerry Owens, or Dewayne Wise. The relative deficiencies of these players are well documented. Anderson is a defensive standout, who struggles mightily at the plate. Owens has extraordinary speed, but does little else very well. Wise, is a gritty veteran who stand out in no particular area.
If Lillibridge grabs hold of the leadoff spot, I am hopeful that center will be filled by Anderson. If none of the second basemen seize the lead off spot, we could see Owens in center. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t have to happen.
All of that said, the most exciting thing that will occur in Glendale, Az. this spring is the arrival of Dayan Viciedo. He is a big, 19 year old third basemen who comes to the Sox from Cuba. As with A.Ram. last year, reports regarding Dayan’s talent are amazing, but overall he is something of a mystery to Sox fans. But we do hope that KW has caught lightning in a bottle for the second year in a row.