and with that excruciating diagnosis, Jake Peavy’s season comes to an end. This is obviously a severe blow to the club. Anyone that has watched this team knows that it’s strength is the rotation, and while he got off to a very bad start, Peavy was rounding into form in his last several starts.
The team still has four strong starting pitchers, and now we will see what Mr. Hudson can do.
Meanwhile the team keeps on winning, beating the Halos in the game in which Peavy was injured, and again last night behind a strong outing from Freddy Garcia.
Sox.com ran a story on the final relief position tonight. The reasonable expectation is that the following fellas have positions locked down in the pen: Randy Williams, Bobby Jenks, J.J. Putz, Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink and Tony Pena.
As Merkin points out in the story: the final relief slot needs to have a pitcher who can work in any number of different roles. He might be called on to fill an inning late in a close game if this group of previously mentioned talent has been used frequently in a specific time period.
With regard to the remaining candidates for the 7th spot, Ozzie has said the following about Greg Aquino. “Aquino is very impressive. He throws strikes,” Guillen said. “Every time he’s out there, he does a good job. It’s a situation game. He can be on and see how he handles it very well.”
“He came back [in the ninth] and did the same stuff. He’s got a lot of experience. He throws strikes. Especially when you’re competing for a job, you can get wrapped up and all of a sudden you lose what you have. He takes care of it very well.”
Aquino is a 32 year old right hander who has pitched 145 games in the majors.
Sergio Santos is talented, but extremely green. Dan Hudson is also talented, but also green, and is being groomed to be a starter. It seems to me that the better place for Hudson is in the rotation in Charlotte.
Given all of that, it seems to me that Aquino is your man.
It is nothing more than the first “B game” of spring training. But the Sox 23 year old rightie from ODU pitched two scoreless innings retiring four on strikeouts.
I don’t want this kid cooling his heels as the 5th starter or the long reliever in the bullpen. But, if this production continues it will be good to know that he is developing with Rich Dotson down in Charlotte.
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!