The flocks have gathered for Spring Training, and it looks like the Red Sox are happy with the pitching staff and pitching prospects they have. Ubaldo Jimenez has signed with the Orioles, and the Yankees captured the pitching prize of the season in Tanaka. The Sox will match up with them with John Lester, Clay Bucholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Dubront and a cast of young, hopeful candidates.
No one in the rotation could be defined as a workhorse, with the possible exclusion of John Lester. They are not unfamiliar with the disabled list, especially Bucholz, who has yet to prove his arm has a full season in it. In spite of these questions the Red Sox seem to have a personnel strategy that runs counter to the American League East— bring on the youngsters!
The Red Sox have stocked their pitching staff with a number of home grown starters, considering Lester, Bucholz and Dubront, and they appear to have faith in the starters of the future in Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, Drake Britton, Rubby DeLaRosa, Anthony Renaudo, and Matt Barnes. Workman has already proven he can start in the Majors. He is good enough to replace anyone at the bottom of the rotation. And Webster seems to be on the brink of gaining some composure to go with this astounding curve ball. And the others appear to be bonafide contenders. So the odds of coming up with two more starters out of Spring Training are good.
The exit of Ryan Dempster is a signal to all of these prospects that arms are for hire in Fort Myers this spring. That is a good signal to send to young pitchers, who need to feel that their time is now. They have the opportunity to join the staff of World Champions and a manager who knows pitching talent. A vacancy is just what the Red Sox needed to get their attention and get them on the fast track to the Major Leagues.
I was perturbed by the Red Sox’ inaction in the pitching market over the winter, and I think they are taking a risk now by depending on unproven pitchers. But I like the risk and I like a pitching staff that has roots in the farm system. It shows confidence in the drafted talent, the coaching in the system, and in the principle of loyalty. The Red Sox may yet prove that team loyalty is not an outmoded concept and that the young arms have realistic hopes of throwing for the parent team as soon as 2014.
Not me. The beaning of Alex Rodriguez shows that the clean players in baseball want to make the dirty ones suffer. In his entire career I have never felt sorry for Alex Rodriguez before Sunday night. I did feel sorry for him, because he wanted to play despite his transgressions and Dempster and the Red Sox wouldn’t allow it.
This also says something about how I feel about hitting a batter to make a statement. There is no reason for a pitcher, who has a weapon, to attack a batter who is standing at the plate unprotected except for his helmet. To me it is a coward’s statement to throw at a batter. To say it is part of the game shows that the game has some growing up to do.
The savvy and wise will speak of the unwritten laws of fairness, and managers like John Farrell will insist, contrary to all evidence, that it was only a strategic pitch inside. It was what it was. Rodriguez, for once, was standing at the plate following the contract supported by the Players’ Association, and he was targeted three times with a baseball. That’s weak.
I was not proud of Dempster and the Red Sox on Sunday night. They may have made a statement, but making it with a ball that can maim a player is poor sportsmanship, Major Leagues or not. Let the players who think this is a travesty say so, as John Lackey did on Saturday. The rest of you shut up and play ball.