Spring is here!

It’s here — pitchers and catchers are officially in the house here in Fort Myers. That includes the injured Curt Schilling, who chose not to meet with the media today.

Manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein did hold their annual state of the spring address. First baseman Kevin Youkilis is the first member of the starting nine to report. Catcher Jason Varitek is merely required to be in Fort Myers today, but doesn’t have to report until tomorrow.

Jonathan Papelbon was the first player to address the mass media and he didn’t disappoint.

Are the Red Sox the team to beat? "I think so. If we’re not the team to beat, I’d like to know who is. I think that, like I said before, our No. 1 thing is to stay healthy. If we do that, i don’t know who can really compete with us, from a top to bottom scale. It’s a good situation to be in, that’s for sure."

Papelbon is no content with one ring. "My whole goal now is to keep this ball rolling and just kind of pick up where we left off."

Did Papelbon’s dog really eat the World Series-winning baseball? "He’s an old Mississippi reporter, he’s not like you guys and just move on. He  kept plugging on this ball. I finally just told him, look my dog ate it. What do you want me to do with it? If you believe it, you believe it. If you don’t, you don’t. What can I say?"

A reporter told Papelbon that it sounded like the dog ate his homework. "Exactly, exactly."

More later,

Ian.

30 Comments

We’re officially open for business. Welcome back everyone!

I look forward to this year with a lot of anticipation for an exciting year. Here are a few of the things I look forward to, how about some of your ideas:

Jacoby Ellsbury – Speed and more speed. We haven’t seen this in Boston since Tommy Harper. He’s a good bet to hit .300, steal a bunch of bases, and play some fearless center field. He should be really fun to watch.

A Healthy Papi – We were so spoiled by the Oritz heroics and awesome power numbers of the past few years that last year seemed like an off year for him. Get ready to get spoiled some more because he should be as good as ever, and maybe better this year. Not only will he be healthy, but behind him will be hitting a ………….

Revitalized Manny Ramirez – Rumor has it Manny has been working out like crazy. That tells me he wasn’t happy with his performance last year and he’s on a mission. He’s a bad man …… and with no off season questions, concern, or controversies, he’s reporting to camp on time ready to go. Maybe he realized he’s getting up there in years and it’s going to take a little more to stay on top of his game. If that’s the case, this could be the best Papi-Manny year ever.

Dice-K – This year, more composed means more command, means better pitching. I look for him to be much better than last year.

Josh Beckett – I think he just began to realize his potential last year. How good can he be? It will be exciting to find out.

I share your enthusiasm, Garry. I firmly believe the Sox will be better this year because of a healthy Ortiz and Ramirez, a more relaxed and better conditioned Dice-K, a reliable rotation and bullpen, a balanced lineup and depth in every area. Pitching and depth are key factors that contributed to the World Series crown. The Sox are a true “team,” and that is why Sox players and fans alike should feel confident about 2008.

Jeff

http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

gsm,

I agree with everything you wrote, scary thought, lol.

I am looking forward for a full season from Ellsbury. We got a glimpse last year and what I saw, I am glad he is wearing a Red Sox uniform. When he is in the lineup, good things happen. He can help you in so many ways. We have seen so many guys like him over the years but they have played against the Red Sox.

Red Sox were down in the series 3-1 to the Tribe and Ellsbury was put in the lineup and the Red Sox never lost another game. I’m not saying he was the reason why the Red Sox won 7 in a row ( there longest winning streak of the season–oh by the way ) but when he is in the lineup, he can beat you in so many ways. A joy to watch.

My only concern coming into the season is the Red Sox bullpen. Papelbon at the end is one of the best if not the best. The bridge to Papelbon is my concern. Delcarmen has all the ability to be very dominating but he can very inconsisent as well. Perhaps this year everything will come together for Delcarmen.

Ramirez and Ortiz this year will combine for at least 80 longballs, like season’s past. They are the best duo in baseball.

I am expecting a big year from J.D. Drew. I still don’t like the contract but he is ready to produce in 2008. The pressure is off of Drew and he is ready.

Looking forward to the season, kind of goes without saying.

I am with you Brian, I believe that the Sox offensive capabilities are contingent on JD Drew’s performance this season at the plate.

Everybody figures that Manny and Papi will put up better power numbers this season which is understandable, but it’s not fair to expect Lowell to improve upon his 2007 stats so if Drew picks up the slack and hits .290 with 15-20 HR and 80-100 RBI (which he is more than capable of doing), the top 7 hitters in our lineup are going to be scary, Yankee-like even.

Lugo is also another player to watch. Not only does he have a year of big-market experience under his belt, but he has Jed Lowrie breathing down his neck and ready to jump in at SS if Lugo doesn’t produce in ’08.

This is kinda weird in a way, usually I’m tentatively optimistic after a very good year because trneds tend downward. But if you look at the Sox is not as if everyone had career years. You might argue downward trends for many players due to age, breakout seasons, etc. but look at the number of guys who could actually be BETTER!

Dice-K: Full ML year under his belt, in his prime and nasty stuff.

Drew: Started hitting better at the end and should be more comfortable.

Lugo: More comfortable should hit better

Lester: Showed maturity in the PS and could be a solid 3rd or 4th guy for years to come.

Manny: Should stay healthy and mash again, ala the playoffs.

….heck the only guys that you could argue for a downturn are Okajima and Pedroia, maybe Ortiz due to age

This is a tremedous team and organization right now and all praise to Theo and the boys for it!!

Boy, am I glad baseball season is here, after bosoxbrian ate my football lunch all winter…lol.

I am as enthusiastic as the next guy about the potentiality of the Sox, but one must remember that outside of Lester at the beginning of the year, Schilling in the middle, and Wake at the end, the team remained healthy all year…unlike 2006 when we lost Boomer, Clement, Schilling, Foulke, Tek, Coco, Big Papi and Manny. Until the unfathomable Massacre by the Yankees, the Sox had maintained the division lead pretty much all year, when their injuries finally caught up to them.

I recognize that the Sox have surprising depth — if either Youk or Lowell go down, we have a pretty capable 1B sub in Sean Casey, we have both Alex Cora and Jed Lowrie standing behind at 2B and SS, and you already have 4 capable OF’s, not to mention Bobby Kielty marking time down in the minor leagues. Beyond that, the Six starters to choose from (including Julian) even with Schill’s injury (Kyle Snyder would make 7!!), without counting Justin Masterson who was so highly thought of to have been mentioned prominently in trade talks. With the relief core, I think DelCarmen will come into his own this year, Oki-Doki will have an Oki-Doki year, and the Sox will get contribution from either of the Craigs: Hansen or Breslow. If your starting 5 can win 80 games (16 per), and your relief staff can win 18, you win the AL East. Simple as that. But injuries have to be a concern, particularly behind the plate. If Tek were to develop an injury this year, the ability level falls way off…remember the disasters the Sox faced there in ’06 after Tek went down. Here’s hoping for a real healthy Tek year, ‘cuz it could be a lot of fun.

I do have one question: after he has, in his first 4 years with the Sox, managed the team to their first 2 world titles in 90 years, when will we hear about the lavish contract extension being given to Tito (my birthday buddy)? Come on front office, show your stuff when it comes to taking care of everybody!!!! You did a good job taking care of Mikey, Schill, Youk and the rest of the crew, now its Terry F’s turn.

I am excited that spring training is here, and that we can see the Red Sox win another world series (We all hope!) Here’s my predictions

Ellsbury:.320-.330 in first full ML season

Drew: .280-.300,going to be much more comfortable this season

Lugo: .260-.280 if good season

Dice-K:3.60-3.90 and 200-220 innings after 1st ML season.

Red Sox win against Cubs in 5 games.

Those are my 2008 predictions.

Also National Leauge wins 4-3 aginst Amreican so celebrate at home for the first time in 9 decades!

Correction: American

Ahhhhhhhhh!!! (big sigh of relief) I just ordered my MLB.COM package yesterday, now with the guys starting to show up on our west coast, I’m really starting to get excited. I’ll really know that the season is here when my husband asks me “are you on the blog AGAIN???”.
How is everyone doing?? Welcome home family!!!!

ps, did Ian ever tell us who won the “Prediction Challenge” from last year???

Sorry. I just want to share my thoughts

rsf015. ?????

Hey everyone.

I agree with you about Beckett, gsm. I guess you were right, great minds do think alike :-)

Beckett has been a good pitcher for several years now. But since last year, pretty much from the start of the season, he actually knows it. He knows he’s “bigger” than the guy at the plate. At 27 ( although he’ll play most of the year at 28 ), he’s entering his prime, and that’s a scary thought for any hitter.

The 07 season will be hard to beat, but staying at this level for a couple years is certainly within his reach, imo.

Beckett has been a really great pitcher all along, I think it just took an adjustment year in the A.L. to get his “legs” so to speak. I hope that his head is in the right place again this year!

No doubt about it. Like Farrell and Tito said last year, he’s no longer just a flame thrower, he’s a true pitcher. He uses his head and he trusts all his pitches ( well, most of the time ). He’s the ace and he knows it.

And judging by his performances under a big deal of pressure in the post-season, he sure can live with that responsibility.

Ellen,

I was remiss in not tallying the predictions from last spring, but it’s all still in the archive and I promise to do so this spring! how is that?

Ian.

Hey, you’re the BOSS here!! …that works for me. Glad to see that you are still here with us, you’re the best Ian!!
Thanks. ec

My hope is that he truly keeps his head about him and didn’t let all the attention get to him (I don’t think he would, just by the way he carries himself). If he stays true to the roots of his pitching, he’ll be Cy front runner for sure!!

ps, Ian, I have no false hope that I had the answers, I just wanted to know who did.ec

dbenjamin,

It was fun going back and forth with football. Super Bowl had a bad result, Red Sox start up just in time.

I hope you are right about Delcarmen, coming into his own. The guy has some electric stuff. 95+ fastball with that nice slider, good stuff for sure.

I agree with you totally about Varitek. In 2006 when he went down with the knee injury, the Red Sox had the 2nd best record in baseball ( Only Detroit had a better record ) The Red Sox went into the tank. When the Red Sox played the Yankees in that 5 game series at Fenway ( sorry to bring that up ) the Red Sox were pretty much healthy except for Varitek. Varitek provides so much leadership, intagibles. He has the “C” for a reason.

Lester they say is at 225 lbs. He is a year removed from his last treatment. I am expecting him to be solid, 13-16 wins. Everyone is rooting for him!!!

Francona’s extension I would assume will be announced sometime during spring training. It’s a shame it hasn’t been done yet. Let’s get it done!!! All he has done is manage a team to 2 World Series victories. He is 8-0 in the World Series, not bad. Let’s get it done Theo/Larry L.

I was perusing the current 40-man roster (currently at 36 according to boston.com).

Some interesting tidbits

1. Only two guys are under 6’0″ Chris Carter and Pedroia (5′ 9″)…The tallest guy Snyder who lists at 6’8″(!!)

2. Of the 36, 28 appeared at some time last year with Boston. The 8 that didn’t? (Aardsma, Breslow, Carter, Casey, Hansen, Kottaras, Martinez, Pauley)

3. 4 Countries outside of the US are represented: Japan, Nicaragua, D.R., Venezuela

4. The oldest guy? Wakefield 8/2/66 (41) he’s got Schilling beat by 2+ months

5. The youngest guy? Buchholz at 8/14/1984 (23) beating out rotation-mate Lester by 7+ months.

6. As of today the age split?27 or younger = 16

28 or older = 20

7. Dice-K, Beckett, Paps and Breslow all turn 28 this year. Papelbon not until after the season in November.

8. Only two switch-hitters adorn the roster: Crisp and Tek

9. Of the position players only 3 throw left-handed: Ortiz, Carter and Ellsbury

10. There are only 4 lefty hurlers on the roster: Okajima, Lester, Breslow and Lopez.

Sorry for the layoff, had to do things.
Ellen I misunderstood you, I thought you were affending me.

sorry

rs015, HECK NO!!! Everyone knows that I try my best not to offend anyone here, remember I’m the cheerleader and Welcome Wagon hostess!! How’s every thing going??? Things are really looking up for me, surgery last season, seems ok for now…

sorry,sorry,sorry, sorry,sorry

p.s. I hope you are feeling fine

Lets just forget that incident, i’m just stupid

I didn’t think that there was an incident, I was just showing relief that Spring Training is HERE!!!!

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