Daily Links - Return Engagement Edition

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester throws in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. The Red Sox defeated the Orioles 6 - 1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

While your humble author disappeared down Florida way to catch some exhibition baseball games, drink beer in the sun, and watch very drunk people fall off of lifeguard's chairs this past weekend, the always excellent Ben Buchanan kept the ship afloat. With appropriate thanks, let's get back to it.

Link time!

Spring training is in full swing and so is Bobby Valentine. First there was his feigned excitement over today's trip to Tampa to face the Yankees (via Tim Britton of the Providence Journal) wherein Valentine said he wanted to send the Yankees "a message." I'm guessing that message is 'calm the heck down' and it's likely aimed more at the fans and press than at the Yankees.

Then there was Valentine's ever so delicate discussion of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen's comportment on the field of play yesterday. During said delicate discussion, Valentine gently suggested Ozzie was giving lessons to the umpires on how to do their job. Ozzie, of course, was ejected, leading Valentine to opine, "See ya!" to Guillen as he headed down a tunnel close to the Sox dugout. Guillen didn't hear the comment at the time but he had what I'll call a remarkably accurate estimate of what his response would have been had he heard. Hint: it rhymes with, "Go [expletive] yourself." Yes, it's going to be a fun summer.

As for actual spring training, with a hat tip to Allan at Joy of Sox, I'd like to recommend you check out the great pictures by Red Sox Diehard. The photos can be found here. They do an excellent job of bringing the closeness of the players and the ballparks, two aspects which to me epitomize spring training, to life.

Fan Graphs' Marc Hulet has published his top 100 prospects list. If you listened to the Baseball Prospectus podcast (which I highly recommend) a few weeks ago (link here) you would have heard Kevin Goldstein, who does the prospect analysis for BP, discussing the top 100 prospects lists with Jim Callis of Baseball America and Keith Law of ESPN. It's a great listen and now that Mr. Hulet's list is out that about puts the pre-season prospect lists to bed. For the record, Hulet has three Red Sox on the list, in Garin Cecchini (100), Will Middlebrooks (55), and Xander Bogaerts (29). Bogaerts and Middlebrooks made just about everyone's lists but Cecchini is a new one on me. (Here's his write up at Sox Prospects.) Not to say he isn't talented because he is and quite so, it's just that his injury problems, including a wrist injury last year, in his first year in pro baseball have limited his ability to accomplish much on the field so far. He's an interesting pick and Mr. Hulet could look quite good by the time the season ends if Cecchini stays healthy and hits to his abilities.

Over at The Platoon Advantage, Jason Wojciechowski penned two excellent pieces (one and two) on getting mediocre or bad teams to respectability this season. Have you ever really sat down and mapped out a group of ideas that could get the 2012 Baltimore Orioles to 88 wins? It's black magic, I tells ya!

According to WEEI.com's Alex Speier, the Red Sox are planning on pursuing 19 year old Cuban star and soon-to-be free agent Jorge Soler. Solar is thought to be in the cross-hairs of the Cubs though, an assertion which Mr. Speier's source agrees with. In other words, the Red Sox like Soler a lot but aren't expecting to beat the Northsiders out for his services.

Over at Fire Brand of the AL, Chip Buck analyzes a group of promising Red Sox bullpen options. It could actually be a pretty effective group despite the loss of Jonathan Papelbon.

The Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson notes that John Dewan of The Fielding Bible doesn't hate Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles' defensive abilities. He thinks the best combination of defense and offense on the roster at shortstop for the Sox is going to be Mike Aviles and I can't say anyone here at OTM would have much of a problem with that statement.

Finally, if you've ever wanted to enjoy an eight pound hamburger, you're in luck. Just travel down to our Nation's Capital and get yourself into a National's game. That's where you'll find the new Strasburger. It's hard to say what about Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has inspired Nationals officials to concoct a sandwich which will cause your heart to rip through your rib cage and run screaming from your chest, but they've done it. Hat tip to the excellent DC Sports Bog.)

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