Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Finally taking a look at the Sox...

We're well into Spring Training, and less than two weeks away from the beginning of the regular season on April 2nd, managers are beginning to let players know who's making the trip North and who isn't. There are already certain givens on the Red Sox roster. Who you might ask? I would say you can count on the following -

Pitchers (Expected to carry 12) -

Starters (5)* -
Josh Beckett
Curt Schilling
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Jonathan Papelbon
Tim Wakefield

Relievers (7) -
Julian Tavarez
JC Romero
Joel Pineiro
Hideki Okajima
Brendan Donnelly
Kyle Snyder*
Manny Delcarmen*

* The Sox will be starting the season with Mike Timlin on the DL, with Timlin on the DL it opens up a second spot in the bullpen to start the season. Look for either Snyder or Delcarmen to be the odd man out when Timlin returns.

The Sox also have additional depth at starter. Lefty Jon Lester will start the season in Pawtucket, and will likely be the first to get the call if one Boston's starters go down. Reports out of Florida this spring also saw Devern Hansack make a serious push for a spot on the big-league club. With these guys waiting in the wings, expect this to be Schilling's last season in a Sox uniform. The real question mark becomes Matt Clement who is rehabbing. Will he ever be seen again in the majors?

Catchers (2) -
Jason Varitek
Doug Mirabelli

Infeilders (5) -
Kevin Youkilis**
Alex Cora**
Dustin Pedroia
Julio Lugo
Mike Lowell

** Players like Youkilis and Cora will give manager Terry Francona the extra flexibility to carry an extra pitcher instead of an extra fielder due to their ability to play at more than one spot on the diamond.

Outfielders (5) *** -
Coco Crisp
JD Drew
Manny Ramirez
Wily Mo Pena

***The only question here is who is the fifth outfielder/utility player. Eric Hinske has not hit well in spring training, but is a proven commodity on the major-league level and can play third. The other option in camp is rookie David Murphy who has had a good camp, but would probably benefit from the everyday playing time he could get at Pawtucket.

DH (1) -
David Ortiz

Likely batting order? I'm guessing...

1. Lugo
2. Youkilis
3. Ortiz
4. Ramirez
5. Drew
6. Varitek
7. Lowell
8. Crisp
9. Pedroia

Monday, March 19, 2007

Extracurricular activities reshaping 2007 NFL rosters

Ah - nothing like the moron patrol to change a general manager's plans...

Consider some of the following -

Chicago Blues -
Tank Johnson, recently sentenced to spend the next four months in jail for violating his probation on gun charges, is likely to be facing a minimum four game suspension from the league when next season starts. While the jail sentence should end in time for Johnson to attend training camp, the violation puts him in violation of common terms in all NFL contracts and, as such, will cost him 25 percent of next year's paychecks.

What it will cost the Bears is a change in the off-season philosophy. The Bears know they will likely be without the services of their starting nose tackle for a portion of the beginning of next season. While the team's schedule hasn't been announced, its opponents have and they will be facing at least nine out-of-division opponents who will try to pound the ball on them in the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers.

For a team that already has holes in their secondary due to free-agency, and one pissed-off franchised linebacker, this alters what the general manager has to do both in free-agency and the draft. Act of God is one thing, act of Tank has gotta hack Jerry Angelo off.

Tennessee Waltz -
Pacman never learned that the blue ghosts are only good in the video game. When they're in blue in real-life, they're probably cops.

Adam "Pacman" Jones evidently had two run-ins with Georgia police which recently came to light. Evidently Jones never informed his employers of these run-ins and speculation is that these charges are going to result in a plea as well as a possible season-long suspension from the NFL under the same contract provision that is likely to cause Johnson to miss games.

The rampant speculation is that the volatile Jones has played his last game as a Titan, which led to the signing of former Colt Nick Harper in the first place.

I'll have the Porterhouse -
I'm not saying that this will necessarily result in league discipline, but don't be surprised if linebacker Joey Porter misses a couple of games next season before debuting with the Dolphins for his alleged assault of Bengals tackle Levi Jones. Unless the charges are dropped, Porter was cited by Las Vegas police for misdemeanor battery, I'm guessing that the NFL will come down pretty hard on him - especially considering that the Player's Union has expressed an interest in stemming the police reports associated with its membership.

Just one suggestion to the NFL - do not ever consider Vegas as an expansion site. It seems that whenever NFL player news comes out of there it always involves a police report.