By Jonathan Usher – @madduxman
As Spring Training 2018 begins, nearly every outlet of the media tells us that our Red Sox are unlikable. Is Andrew Benintendi unlikable? How about Rafael Devers? Maybe you can’t stand Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, JBJ, Vazquez, Kimbrel or Carson Smith. Does Swihart, E-Rod, Pomeranz, Sandy Leon, or the Brock Star piss you off? Nope, me either. What about their new manager Alex Cora? That’s a big fat negative for me. In my opinion, those first four potential superstars and faces of the franchise, are four of the most exciting players in the game right now – with HUGE intrigue, as the sky is the limit for them.
Those previously listed – consist of more than half of the probable 25 man roster for our 2018 Red Sox. Yes, David Price is a cancer in the clubhouse – that is a general consensus, but he has tremendous talent. Many fans despise Hanley and/or Pedey. I don’t, but I can see why some, maybe most fans do. Bogey and Barnes can drive me cRaZy, but they are not “unlikable.” Personally, I can’t wait to see how Austin Maddox, Tyler Thornburg and Brandon Workman contribute this season now that they are healthy, and will be given the opportunity to do so. Will Brentz, Chavis, Travis, or Lin get any significant playing time? If so, what are their ceilings? Are any of THEM even remotely unlikable?
I have been extremely critical of the Sox since I started writing for Avidboston.com. Call it frustration, disappointment or “dislike,” but I believe that most of my criticism has been warranted – and I consider myself a realist, and even an optimist. The worst in-game manager in baseball, John Farrell is now history – yet I have only predicted 87 wins for our beloved 2018 Red Sox. J.D. Martinez and Eduardo Nunez are still unsigned (as of this writing), but if we sign both players, we can compete in the AL East, if the pitching staff stays relatively healthy – but that is a HUGE if. It is obvious that J.D. is a mandatory acquisition to bolster the lineup, but a healthy and productive ‘2017 Nunez’ may be even more important simply because the infield has nearly zero depth. Especially with Pedey out potentially until the All-Star break.
I love my Sox, I bleed Sox blood. I do NOT ‘dislike’ these guys, even though it has been driven into my head to do so… I will continue to be critical, especially when necessary.
So boys let’s stretch, enjoy the sun & warmth of Florida in February. Let’s leave the criticisms of 2017 behind us. The 7-8 month battle with the Evil Empire is about to begin, and our disdain towards the New York Yankees is reinvigorated as they may be fielding their best (or most dislikable) team in more than 20 years.
ICYMI: AVIDBOSTON PODCAST EPISODE 28: THE JD MARTINEZ/ROB MANFRED EDITION!
Also available on iTunes!