Happy almost-Evacuation Day, everyone. I'll assume you're all working on your first hangover of the weekend, so we'll keep this week's recap short and sweet.
We're continuing here to look at every player on the roster and their potential impact on the team through the lens of our spring training profiles. This week, we checked out how Fenway Park will affect Jonny Gomes, whether Felix Doubront can become a more efficient (and thus effective) pitcher, and whether Pedro Ciriaco's impatience at the plate is really much of a liability. In the lives of players not yet on the team (but turning heads down in Florida), Marc took a look at Allen Webster, who's switched up his mechanics slightly. The change seems to have worked, as every writer and scout has been raving about the young pitcher. It's nice to be excited about a pitching prospect again.
Speaking of prospects, Jackie Bradley has also been impressing everyone down in Fort Myers. So much so, in fact, that some writers and fans are already calling for him to make the big-league roster out of camp. This is, to put it mildly, highly unlikely, but Matt Kory wants you all to be ready, and put together some tips for hopping on the Bradley bandwagon. One of the most appealing things about Bradley is his stellar defense in center, of course. Baseball Prospectus tends to agree that Bradley will be an elite defender, ranking his as the best outfield glove in the minors. Fellow Sox farmhand Jose Iglesias was named best infield defender, and the thought of those two gloves coming up has to put a smile on the faces of the Red Sox pitching staff.
Speaking of that rotation, it's looked pretty good so far in spring training, with all standard caveats about small samples and spring stats. This is certainly encouraging, since to take one more whack at that long-dead horse, this Boston team is only going as far as their starting pitchers can take them. Extra-special guest Grant Brisbee agrees, citing Jon Lester as the player whose performance will most impact how the Red Sox fare this season. One guy who won't have much impact on the rotation in the near future is lefty Franklin Morales, whose back is in sufficiently rough shape that he'll likely start the year on the disabled list.
Also likely to miss Opening Day is the slugging, smiling heart of the Boston franchise, David Ortiz. After (literally) cooling his heels all winter, Ortiz isn't up to full running or batting power, and will almost certainly be on the DL at the beginning of April. It's hard to imagine a lineup without Papi, as he's now been a mainstay of the Boston offense for a decade.
Of course, Papi is still in a Sox uniform, even if he's not on the field, and that alone is reassuring. We looked this week at a few players who recently donned other jerseys, and how they're progressing in their new homes. We wrap up the week with a reflection on the fate of another player very likely to be wearing different gear come next April: Jacoby Ellsbury. The recent departure of Patriots receiver Wes Welker, and the subsequent garment-rending around town, got Ben thinking about the nature of fandom as it relates to professional ballplayers. What is it about our connection to players that makes it so hard to see them play somewhere else?
So, on that philosophical note, it's time to go celebrate the weekend. Enjoy responsibly, please don't drink any green beer, and remember: Opening Day's only 15 days away.