A Look At Some Of The Story Lines Of Spring Training 2010
The grass is green, the palm trees are in full force, and the reporters are flocking.
So that must mean the Boston Red Sox are in Fort Myers.
Spring Training has begun for the Boston Red Sox as Thursday marks the official reporting day for the local nine. After a disappointing exit to the 2009 season, the Sox are looking for a strong spring to prove they are over the dismal ending of last season.
Along with the hope and promise that arrives with the crack of the bat every spring, come the new bright faces that mix with the old. With the changing of players (and philosophy) in Boston, makes for many new story-lines that add interesting wrinkles to this years start in Fort Myers.
So with this, we will delve further into the top five story-lines of this year’s Spring Training.
1) Will this years squad have enough offense?
At first glance, the lineup for 2010 looks a little bleaker than that of its 2009 version. With Jason Bay gone to the Mets, it would seem the Sox are missing a big bat in the middle of the lineup. But with the additions of Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro, and a full-year of Victor Martinez, the Sox should have plenty of offensive firepower (compared to last years at those positions) to withstand the tough competition of the AL East. If not, you can rest assure Theo Epstein will be making moves at the trading deadline.
2) What version of David Ortiz will we see?
The first question leads right into this one. Which Big Papi will show up in 2010? Well, the 34-year-old is in his final guaranteed year of a contract with Boston, so you can bet he has plenty of motivation coming into the season. Rumors have it that Papi is in great shape and looking forward to building off his strong second half of last season. Believe it or not, Ortiz hit 28 HRs and had 99 RBIs last season and you can expect those numbers to increase this season as Sox fans would also like to see a climb in his average from last season (.238) in 2010.
3) What will the catching situation be like?
Victor Martinez is slated to receive the majority of starts behind the plate this season, so how does Jason Varitek fit into the picture? Well, with Varitek’s best years behind him, you can expect Terry Francona to employ the Sox captain mainly on days that opposing teams have left-handed pitchers on the mound as Varitek is noted to hit at a higher clip (39 points higher over the past three years) against lefties, rather than righties. Martinez will also see some time at first base this season to give Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Beltre some rest days, which makes the need for Varitek on the bench even more prevalent. (One thing to note though is that even if Varitek is upset with his backup role, he will not be a distraction in the clubhouse).
4) Will Josh Beckett or Victor Martinez be signed to contract extensions?
Nothing is for certain with the Red Sox front office. But expect the Sox to make a push to sign the former before the latter, as in Beckett instead of Martinez. Beckett’s last contract was a three-year, $30 million pact that was signed in good faith by both sides. But you cannot expect Beckett to take a discount this time around as he will be looking to strike it rich in what could be his last chance at a major pay-day. With the contracts of Beckett, Martinez, Ortiz, Varitek, Beltre, Julio Lugo, and Mike Lowell coming off the books next season, the Sox will have plenty of money to spend in free agency and in keeping their own free agents. The question remains whether or not Epstein and company want to wrap up negotiations with Beckett now or wait and take their shot, along with 29 other teams, in inking the right-hander next off-season. As for Martinez, it will be a wait-and-see type of approach for the front office as they will need to assess the defensive ability of Martinez behind the plate, before agreeing to a long-term deal with the 31-year-old.
5) What’s going to happen with Mike Lowell?
In what could be the most intriguing and delicate story-line of the spring, the future of Mike Lowell is still up in the air. Due to the need for thumb surgery, a trade with the Texas Rangers was taken off of the table in the winter as the Rangers elected to keep catching prospect Max Ramirez in leu of trading for an injured Lowell. How Lowell recovers from surgery and performs this spring will go a long way in determining where he will end up. Could a trade with Texas be revisited? Will the Cubs make a push for the third-basemen? Do the Sox want to keep Lowell as a platoon DH and backup player? All these scenarios could play out, which make this story-line the one to watch this spring.
Please, let us know which story-line you think is most intriguing by commenting on this article. Also, don’t forget to check out all our new merchandise and apparel as the Sox are set to take on the Yankees at Fenway Park on April 4.