Weird week, this. It was warmer in Boston than Hawaii. Bobby Valentine ordered a suicide squeeze in a spring training game (we'll come back to this one). The Red Sox pitching staff looked alternately solid and dreadful. Pedro Ciriaco continued to be borderline ridiculous. Also, spring officially (astronomically) began, and local street sweepers worked overtime in the aftermath of our yearly celebration of General Gage's retreat from Boston under the Dorchester-mounted guns of Washington's army.
Let's get this recap under way.
Somehow it feels like we're always talking about pitching around here. Could be, I guess, because we already know the Sox will be turning opposing starters and bullpens into guacamole, and the pitching situation is slightly less clear. Matt Kory took a look at all the contenders for the fourth and fifth starter slots, a list which has narrowed a bit in the last few days. Matt Sullivan discussed the probability that even the guys who lose out on those slots at the season's start will see a few starts during the season. With all this uncertainty around, perhaps the thing to do is explore new ways of thinking about the back end of a rotation, a concept that Cee Angi covered on Monday.
As the week went on and Opening Day approached, the rotation picture slowly became clearer. Sox manager Bobby Valentine ruled Vicente Padilla out as a potential starter, leaving Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, and Felix Doubront as the men contending for a spot in the initial rotation. Ben Buchanan speculated on whether the Sox are really best served by having Aceves starting, or whether he's better suited for the all-purpose mega-reliever role he played last year. Marc Normandin spent some time addressing the rumor that the Sox are having second thoughts about converting Bard to a starter. Huh. So I suppose my statement that the rotation picture is clarifying is only true in the "Torii Hunter's playoff memories" sense. Ah well.
But spring's about looking into the future, and we did a bit of that as well. Marc provided us with the first in a series of previews of Boston's AL East foes with a glimpse at the Baltimore Orioles, the Li'l Brudder of the division. Ben kept up the position-by-position analysis of the division's contenders with a look at left field.
Looking for a more detailed discussion of the Sox roster? Marc had you covered. On Tuesday, he looked at Kevin Youkilis, and whether he can stay healthy enough to factor into the Sox' success this year and in the years ahead. On Wednesday, he moved along to DH/fashion plate David Ortiz, whose bat speed has seemed to return, much to the detriment of opposing pitchers. Thursday, it was Josh Beckett, and his inverse Star Trek problem. Friday saw an analysis of Clay Buchholz's curveball and whether it will see more use in 2012. In the realm of potential Red Sox starters, Matt Kory gave us some insight into Jose Iglesias, who might well be more major-league ready than we think.
You may have heard that Fenway's about to celebrate its centennial. The Red Sox are continuing to invite voting on the "All-Fenway Team," the best Boston's seen at each position. Voting's open for second and third base. Third base, despite a certain sharp grounder past Mo Rivera, ought to be unanimous for Wade Boggs. Second... Well, alright, it's Bobby Doerr. He's in the Hall, his number's part of the Fenway architecture. But man, Dustin Pedroia is making one hell of a strong argument.
We end the week on a depressing note, alas. A few weeks back, we covered the frankly terrifying story of Bobby Jenks's potentially life-threatening botched back surgery. His offseason has just gotten even worse: Jenks was arrested in Florida for a hit-and-run while intoxicated (whether drunk or on muscle relaxants/painkillers is unclear). There's not much more to say about this one yet. Not all the details are out, and it's unclear whether there will be any disciplinary action by either the Red Sox or MLB. No idea what the Sox will do, although this does basically push the $12 million Jenks signing over the edge from "unlucky miss" to "unmitigated disaster." MLB will likely take their normal tack of issuing a strongly-worded statement followed by Joe Buck urging us to "grab some Buds."
That was the week that was. Also, the weather's ridiculous in Boston right now. Go out and enjoy it.