Links: Spring Training 2009 begins

Now that the pitchers and catchers are around, there’s a ton of material for news stories. The problem is that so little of it is newsworthy. I’ve gone through and filtered it for you, so you can save your time for more important things:

Baseball Prospectus has released its latest standings projections for 2009, and the Red Sox are predicted to take the AL East crown with 98 wins. The Yankees place second with 97 wins, and Tampa Bay is four wins behind them. I likey. And for those who see a three-horse race this year, I wouldn’t rule our Toronto, either. Their pitching and defense is as good anyone’s in baseball. It’s the hitting that’s the question mark.

Fire Brand of the AL, always a place for interesting articles, lists possible mid-season trade targets for the Red Sox in 2009. These are guys with expiring contracts, who teams will be eager to unload should they fall out of contention, thanks to the economic crunch.

Mike Lowell is apparently on track to be ready by the end of Spring Training, but you never know until the day actually rolls around. I’d be happy if he can be 100% by mid-April.

Brad Penny has thrown a bullpen already and is feeling good. A lot will depend on assistant trainer Mike Reinold’s shoulder program.

Josh Beckett’s gut really is gone. Just check out the lead photograph for this article. Being in better shape should help him to pace himself over the long season. I hope this translates into a stellar season for Beckett, as we’ll need him healthy to go as far as we want to.

Apparently Hideki Okajima has taken his conditioning seriously this offseason, and even declined to play in the WBC, unlike teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka. He doesn’t want to tire at the end of the year again.

Justin Masterson’s role is not defined, and will not be defined until the end of Spring Training. Basically, he’s the number 6 starter right now, but it depends a lot on how Penny, Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden throw. One of them could force the issue (in either direction). Good thing he’s a good kid and not a troublemaker.

Chris Carter has worked hard using his own offseason training program, but the Sox have put the “break in case of emergency” glass over him already this year. Poor guy.

Terry Francona very politely dismisses any bad behavior by Jack McCormick, as he is accused of by Julianna Ramirez in Manny’s new book.


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