Time Out for Sports Talk: Getting Ready For Baseball Season (Fourth Edition
Todd: Welcome back! Even with the word ‘snow’ appearing in our weekend forecast, it is spring and baseball season is about to begin Monday in Cleveland…unless it snows there, too.
2016 RED SOX SEASON PREVIEW
Todd: The preceding weather report was not an April Fools’ joke, nor is the following rant that’s going to color my Red Sox preview. Sorry folks, but I need to step on my soap box once again and address another of my personal sports pet peeves…
…I wish we were unaware of the salaries of professional athletes, and not just because most of them earn more money in one year than I’ll make during my entire working life.
Yes, I realize this is a very naïve statement to make in this 21st century world of nonstop media bombardment. But if pro sports is supposed to be a business, why not treat it as such and not publish the contracts? Knowing what a player earns warps the fans’ perspective, thanks largely to social media and the talk radio circuit constantly reminding us of the financial obligations.
This topic comes to mind regarding several Sox players. One of the biggest stories this week was John Farrell announcing Travis Shaw as the starting third baseman over veteran Pablo Sandoval, not a surprise if you watched them play during spring training. But the decision is generating media buzz because it’s unprecedented for a player earning Sandoval’s salary to be planted on the bench, although in my sports utopia these decisions would be made based on performance.
I also get the feeling Farrell only chose Shaw over Sandoval because he first received the public support of GM Dave Dombrowski to ignore player contracts, and that Farrell’s job is on the line if the Sox start slow out of the gate because of a new boss who didn’t hire him and gave Torey Lovullo a manager-in-waiting contract extension.
Someone who I think is getting a particularly bum rap due to his contract is Rick Porcello. I understand he had a lousy 2015 season. But he’s only 27 years old and in 2014 with the Tigers won 15 games with a 3.5 ERA, a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm. While I’d be satisfied to see Porcello return to the form he had in Detroit, many fans will always view him as a bust because he’s never going to live up to the huge extension former GM Ben Cherington gave him right around this time last year.
Then there’s Rusney Castillo, another player with a fairly large contract who’s going to be riding the pine in favor of Brock Holt, who I feel is better served as a utility guy that can play anywhere instead of as a platoon in left field. IMO Castillo would be better served playing every day in Pawtucket instead of being a fifth outfielder in Boston, because I think he has talent worth salvaging, even if I’m in the minority of folks who think so.
Speaking of the PawSox, remember Allen Craig, who came to the Sox in the John Lackey deal two years ago? Now he’ll be earning more in Triple-A than all his teammates combined. Hope he at least treats for dinner once in a while.
For what it’s worth—and because I can’t help knowing how much they make—these four players are still owed close to a quarter of a BILLION dollars (for all you Doctor Evil fans out there) in contracts from the Sox…yikes! While they are all presently underperforming, I believe (along with their families) they can all contribute to this club in 2016.
Just like my final big-bucks guy I’m going to mention, Hanley Ramirez. Frankly, I’m amazed Hanley has had a relatively quiet spring while transitioning to first base. While I was one of the few who thought he could become a decent outfielder, I’m glad he has appeared to find a position he can play okay (so far anyway). Now here’s hoping he can stay focused and healthy for the next six months.
Finally, here’s to David Ortiz and his final season. But I must confess I’m already tired of the retirement victory tour – did he really need a full ceremony during spring training? He deserves the accolades, but can we try and keep the focus on the field?
My prediction for the upcoming season is that with Price, closer Craig Kimbrel and the young studs like Betts and Bogaerts anchoring the lineup, I can see these guys winning 90 games if everything breaks in their favor. That should at least have them playing in the wild card game come October. In the meantime, let’s watch them play and not obsess about their pay.
Mike: You know, in the past I would be all up in arms about things like Sandoval being benched. But for some reason this year, I really don't care.
I think it might have something to do with two pathetic years from the Sox, but I went into the beginning of Spring Training expecting something like this. He seemed to have no motivation to come back after a terrible year last season, and he probably expected his paycheck to keep him on the field.
Not so much.
But, I must also say that I really don't think that Travis Shaw is going to be the answer. I don't think you've seen the last of Sandoval yet.
But that is just one problem on a team that is going into the season with a bunch of them. I have no faith in Hanley at first base, though I hope I'm proven wrong. And the pitching staff, after David Price, is one big question mark.
For me, the biggest question is how long does John Farrell keep his job? He's had one great season in 2013, but other than that, it's been tough sailing. And if not for his unfortunate bout with cancer last year, I think he would have been let go.
After all, he's not Dombrowski's guy. And not for nothing, Dombrowski managed to convince last year's interim manager Torey Lovullo to stick around for another season as bench coach. I thought that was a strange decision from Lovullo, especially after a season where he could have been a top candidate for a number of managing jobs. Why would he stick around Boston for another year as a bench coach, unless he's been given the word that the team might be making a change in managers this season?
I think Farrell has about 6 weeks to save his job. If things are bad after that, I think they will make a change. The Sox can't afford another lost season.
And one last thing, is it to early to be sick of the David Ortiz retirement tour? A spring training ceremony seemed just ridiculous to me, a way to stoke someone's massive ego.
Don't get me wrong, I greatly appreciate what Oritz has done for Boston, but this is going to get even more silly as the season drags on (and the Sox figure out more ways to cash in on this).
Our next LIVE show is coming up this Wednesday, April 20 from 8:00-9:00pm. Post your questions via Twitter using the hashtag #TOSTapr20 or call us at (617) 484-2443.