There are thirty-one days until pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers for the first day of Spring Training. That's 744 hours, 44,640 minutes, or 2,678,400 seconds. What I'm saying: close your eyes, count to three million and the season will be here.
There are some things to take care of before the season starts, however. Finishing the Spring Training park would be a nice start. After that, the grass at Fenway probably needs repainting, the gates need one last polish, and the seats need one more scouring for chewed gum, which can then be sold as real, genuine, 100% original Fenway Park under-seat chewing gum for hundreds of dollars per piece. You know, you just can't buy a more authentic keepsake from America's Most Gum-Bereft Ballpark. Expect to hear Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy hocking this product during games.
Over at ESPNNewYork, Wallace Matthews compares Derek Jeter and (believe it or not) Martin Luther King, Jr. Seriously. Allan at Joy of Sox is quick to point out that, not only is that extremely barfy, but it's just plain wrong.
Something else to do before Spring Training: come to a salary agreement with the arbitration eligible players, chief among those being DH David Ortiz. Ortiz accepted arbitration after the Sox offered it and now the two have to come to an agreement on his salary for the 2012 season. According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Ortiz wouldn't mind if a deal didn't get done and he had to go to arbitration. My guess is putting that thought out there is a negotiating tactic of sorts. Yes, in the abstract Ortiz probably wouldn't mind -- he'll get paid either way, after all -- but in practice, nobody wants to sit there while their employer makes a detailed presentation on how they aren't very good. About the only party that scenario would be less palatable to would be the one making the presentation in the first place. Ortiz had a tremendous year last year and he'll get a raise in either case. Meeting somewhere in the middle of Ortiz's $16.5 million asking price and the Red Sox $12.6 million suggestion makes the most sense.
If you haven't already, stop what you're doing and read Marc's excellent piece on Orlando Cabrera from yesterday here at OTM. Then, if that isn't enough O-Cab for you, Alex Remington at Fan Graphs has this piece looking at Cabrera's career. Godspeed, OC, and thanks.
Baseball is a complicated game. There are so many factors that go into player performance that predicting it in any meaningful way quickly becomes problematic. That isn't to say it can't be done, just that doing it well is complex. Take, for example, the Verducci Effect. A while back Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci posited that young pitchers 25 and under who have their innings increase a certain amount are at increased risk for injury. That idea has hung around in the public consciousness for a few years, and as such Verducci has continued to publish a yearly list of the players his rule predicts are at increased risk for injury. Here's the thing though. It's all kinda bunk. David Roher at Deadspin explains, in a very plain and straight forward way, why.
Alex Speier has a nice piece over at WEEI.com on the expectations for Ryan Lavarnway this spring. It will be interesting to see how the Sox use Lavarnway this year. I'm sure part of it will be dictated by injuries, a part of the picture which we don't know yet, but the other part could be how Lavarnway takes to catching full time. Last year he was up for 27 games, only eight of which he played catcher in. Over the past two minor league seasons Lavarnway has caught 115 games behind the plate, or under half of the 242 minor league games he's played in during that time. It's possible Lavarnway could be in line for a Mike Napoli type of playing time distribution, but I think the Sox may want to see if he can handle the full time catching duties first. Don't be surprised if he gets sent down regardless of how well he plays in the spring.
Finally, at Not Graphs, Dayn Perry looks at the thoughts of a young Kevin Youkilis.