Spring Training is underway!
What a glorious statement to be able to make. Ordinarily at this time of year I would start some sort of team preview. I might talk about each player, or group of players, and say what I expect to see out of them in the coming season. I’m having a little bit of trouble doing that this year for a couple of reasons.
First, I’m not sure what I’d say about any of them. Second, I’d say the same thing about everyone.
Take a look at the regulars. Would it shock you if any of them had terrible years? Ellsbury and Pedroia are probably the best bets to excel. But, both of them have had injury problems in the recent past that have ruined seasons. Would it shock you if Victorino regressed to a below average player? If Ortiz showed his age, could we really be surprised? What if Middlebrooks doesn’t match the promise of 2012? Do we know if Hanrahan can pitch in the AL? Can Bailey come back? Is there anyone we’re sure about?
Flip it around. How shocked would you be if anyone on the team was an all-star? Maybe the left field platoon would shock me. The rest of the line-up has had all-star type seasons in the recent past. Wouldn’t be a shock to see them do it again. Even Salty, as a catcher with 25 home run power seems almost likely. Any middle reliever making an all-star team is a toss-up. But, Bailey’s been there a couple times already. Hanrahan too. Even Bard certainly has the skills. Lester, Buchholz, and even Lackey have had those types of seasons. Even Dempster and Doubront could pull it off. Would any of them being 9-2 at the break be out of the range of possibilities?
So, if I went thought the roster player by player, what would I say?
“The performance of player X will go a long way to deciding the fate of the 2013 Red Sox. If he can return to the form he showed X years ago, the Sox will have a great player on their hands. If he plays the way he did X years ago, though, the Sox will struggle. The Sox are certainly hoping for the former.” Just cut and paste that 25 times.
Whose performance would shock you?