Sunday, December 19, 2010


With the newer acquisitions of Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks, the team is really shaping up.  I have to see what transactions the Sox have made on their 40-man to include these two...and I should probably do that now before I say anything else...okay, brb...

Well, the Sox have signed a ton of lefties to minor league deals and have invited some to Spring Training.  Of the bunch, Albers is maybe the most promising, if he can just hit his spots all the time, and Miller needs to keep his pitches down all the time.  When these two guys don't do that, they get hit.  Hard.  DiNardo is another one who has to keep hitting his spots and keep the ball down.  These guys have met with limited success in the majors--and you can throw Hill in with that, too, and he actually shows the most consistent potential out of the whole bunch.  These guys don't have me jumping with joy; I suspect that Theo will keep the 95 corridor well-traversed with these guys.  I think he'll play the hand that's hot, send 'em down when they're not, and do that all year unless one of them catches fire and sticks around.  And Tazawa needs to be mentioned, too.  I feel this guy will be the sleeper that Atchison was last year. 

Eric Patterson, we hardly knew ya.  Fast guy who couldn't hit--except for that one game last year when he clouted three of 'em in one game, just to show you what he could do, maybe, possibly.  This guy should've been laying down bunts and spraying line drives.  Lou Brown would've made him give 'em 20 whenever he hit one in the air.  He took circuitious routes in the outfield, too.  Drove ya crazy.  Would've made a great pinch-runner, but didn't exactly have the acumen on the bases like Dave Roberts had, though Patterson is probably faster.  Didn't walk much, either, to try to steal.  Not my kind of player.  Head-scratcher of Theo's to begin with.

But Wheeler and Jenks are a different story.  I work with a guy who knows Wheeler well, and I've got Wheeler's autograph on a glove around here somewhere...He was big around here when Kenny Giard was (and I have his autograph on a missing glove, too).  Always seemed to do well against the Sox when with the Rays.  I'm surprised he never amounted to more because he shut 'em down every time I saw him.  But he's bounced around a bit now, and his arm is suspect--but if he's healthy, he's another 7th inning guy, maybe pushed down to the 6th inning with the glut of 7th, 8th and 9th inning guys the Sox have now.  He'll pitch a lot when Dice-K does, mark my words.  An exciting grab if he can stay healthy and remain focused.  He'd better, because he's getting $3M this year (I think) with a club option for 2012.  The club option part means the Sox are a little leary about something with him.  It's a year to impress for him.  I feel that he will. 

Also needing to impress, though not as much, is Jenks, signed for 2 years at $6 million per year.  This signing tells me that the Sox have soured on Papelbon's attitude--and also maybe his blown saves last year.  I think they're taking him seriously on his talk about testing the free agent market after this year.  I think the Sox will let him.  He'll have a great year--barring injury--because he is in a contract year, and they'll tender him an offer that he probably could and would refuse.  If that happens, the Sox have Bard and Jenks as potential closers, plus whoever else is available as a free agent next year, or someone who lights their fire in the minors.  Papelbon must be seething about the Sox approaching Rivera--though that may have been nothing more than the Sox making the Yanks spend more money on him.  I don't see Rivera ever leaving the Yanks.  He either pitches for them, or he retires.  I know the Sox have told Bard and Jenks that they're pitching this year for the potential closer's role next year (Which can't make Papelbon happy, either, but what did he expect with all of that free agency and making millions talk?), and if so, Papelbon, Jenks and Bard should all have great years.  With Wheeler in the mix, plus a mishmash of the other guys I mentioned, each Sox game this year has the capability of becoming just 6 or 7 inning games.  And with their offense, and the potential of their starters...

It's hard not to envision a Series ring this year.  I know it's (VERY) early, but on paper this is the team to beat.

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