Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Dog Days of Spring Training

Some interesting news came out of Ft. Myers yesterday, where the Red Sox decided to release veteran catcher Josh Bard and go with rookie George Kottaras to be Jason Varitek's backup. This is a bold and risky move, particularly considering Varitek's obvious decline last season. I like the idea of the Red Sox developing a young catcher by putting him in the backup role and easing him into the mix. Kottaras hit 22 HR last year in the cozy confines of McCoy Stadium and the Red Sox brass seems enthusiastic about his progress defensively this spring. Here's hoping he can relax, not put too much pressure on himself and continue developing.

Veteran Pawsox player Jeff Bailey has been tattooing the ball in spring training. Despite his monster spring and his experience last year at the major league level, Bailey may not make the big club when spring training breaks. The problem with Bailey is the same with Chris Carter. Both could probably hit big league pitching, but both have gloves made of cement. They both play 1B and LF, and are below average defenders at both positions. While it is nice to have such depth in the minor leagues, it would be better for their careers if they were sent to a team such as Kansas City or Seattle where they could get some AB's at DH, 1B, or LF; something they won't get with Ortiz, Youkilis, and Bay ahead of them.

Other than Michael Bowden's struggles, the Red Sox young pitchers have certainly impressed this spring. Daniel Bard, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Junichi Tazawa have all had excellent springs. I can't wait to get to some Pawsox games this spring to catch some of the younger players in action.

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