Unlike his spring debut last week, Mike Trout didn’t hit an official grand slam in his first plate appearance on Thursday, but his attempt to pull off an inside-the-park home run was loaded with just about everything you could want.
Late last month, I kicked off my second go-round of Booms and Busts, in which I highlighted a small handful of players at a given position whom I expect to take significant steps forward or backward. I have no hard-and-fast criteria for those players, no promises of fantasy league dominance or skyrocketing statistics for the Booms or slides below the Mendoza Line for the Busts.
But between poring over projections, identifying players in changed circumstances such as trades, new roles, recoveries from injury, or entries into the prime age range of 26-29 years old, there are players I’d like to earmark before the season begins, for better or worse.
Note that I won’t be including rookies among these picks — those will be saved for another cycle — and I’ve mostly avoided choosing anyone from among last year’s picks. In the spirit of accountability, I’ve revisited last year’s picks at each position, to see what I’ve learned (or haven’t); they’ve been judged on a PASS/FAIL basis as to whether I was right or wrong. After being humbled by my results in starting pitching, I ran the table with my reliever choices.
The Miami Marlins, who won 62 games last season and routinely trotted out a regular season lineup featuring players like Jeff Mathis, Donovan Solano and 37-year-old Placido Polanco, are apparently in a tizzy over the spring training lineup the Red Sox put together for Thursday’s Grapefruit League game in Jupiter, Fla. That’s according to the Sun-Sentinel‘s Marlins beat reporter Juan C. Rodriguez, who wrote that team executives were “outraged” over the squad of minor leaguers that Boston sent to Miami’s Roger Dean Stadium to play a team that will feature 36-year-old Rafael Furcal at second base in games that actually count.
Give NESN play-by-play guy Don Orsillo a little credit: He doesn’t have a future as a major league hitter (or any kind of hitter, really), but he at least manages to put decent wood on a couple of these balls. Next time, though, Don may want to consider taking BP in something other than a polo shirt and loafers. That probably doesn’t help out with the swing. The eye black is a nice touch, though.
(h/t Red Sox on Twitter)
Coming off their worst season since 2000, the Phillies need just about everything to go right in order to contend in the NL East. Their slim chances for doing so have taken a hit with the news of Cole Hamels’ latest bout of shoulder fatigue, putting him far enough behind schedule that he will likely start the year on the disabled list.