Hey, Red Sox pitchers and catchers officially report to spring training today. Just let yourself be excited about it now, because in like a week you’ll remember that spring training is the worst. Someone will hit well, someone will have a lingering injury and someone will get Mad On The Internet about only beating BC by four runs because BC’s a college team and how is a David Ortiz-less offense going to beat pros when they can barely get past college kids?!
Since every spring training is literally the exact same, the usual handful of storylines are bound to show up at some point or another over the next six weeks. The pitcher’s tommy john recovery is coming along ahead of schedule. Everyone’s in the best shape of their life. That team’s top prospect is definitely ready for the majors. But time is a flat circle, so here we are, talking about them again. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and if you have to join ‘em, you might as well try and write about it first so you look better. Some things that you’re going to get tired of hearing about are:
1. Pablo Sandoval is back? And did you know he lost weight and that it’s maybe important but also maybe it’s not important?
Since Sandoval has been at camp for about a week already, this one’s gotten a head start. The pictures of Sandoval posing with people in sweaty workout clothes and looking substantially thinner are all over the place. John Farrell said yesterday that Sandoval has to win the job, but that means being just marginally better than Josh Rutledge, which theoretically shouldn’t be too much of an ask. The team also traded Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada, which is what throwing all of your eggs in one basket looks like played out in real life. Sandoval has been steadily declining since 2011, so that’s not great. Kudos to him for getting in shape, though. His weight loss is going to be mentioned in the second graph of every article — good or bad– written about him this spring. There will be backlash against mentioning his weight and then there will be backlash against not mentioning it and you’ll look at the calendar and it’ll be February 19th.
2. Rick Porcello is going to regress, it’s fate.
It’s still sort of astonishing that the AL Cy Young winner last year was Rick Porcello. At the risk of looking like a real homer, it certainly feels like Porcello didn’t quite get the love he probably deserved this offseason. People were legitimately having to defend the idea of him starting on Opening Day this year, which isn’t usually a battle you have to fight for reigning Cy Young winners. If there’s a prime candidate for 2017’s bad-spring-numbers scapegoat, it’s Porcello.
3. “Here’s how you can tell the offense is already missing David Ortiz”
That take is coming. Emotional aspects aside, how is the team going to replace .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs? Mitch Moreland? There will be numbers-y articles breaking down what the absence of him in the middle of the order means for the team’s production. Dan Shaughnessy will say this year’s team lacks heart. Throw that together with a bad spring from Mookie Betts or Hanley Ramirez and the panic button is going to get smashed into the ground. Someone will suggest that the team should reach out to him.
4. David Price is ready to prove himself for real this time guys.
Not sure if you’ve heard, but David Price has this weird habit of not pitching that well in playoff games. It’s a flawed argument but also keeps happening and he makes jokes about it suspiciously often, so everyone’s in a really weird place about it. The big time free agent always has rough first year and then comes into the next season with a weight off his shoulders because he just wants to play for the fun of the game and definitely doesn’t worry about the stress of living up to a mammoth contract anymore, so Price is operating right on schedule. He will tell everyone his October yips are not a thing and everyone will wink while they agree with him. His french bulldog will show up in team promos.
5. Is John Farrell on the hot seat?!
You forgot about this one, didn’t you?
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