Tennesse Williams's first successful play was The Glass Menagerie, but this is a baseball site rather than an introductory course in theater. I love the title and can connect it to the 2023 Boston Red Sox. Are the Red Sox a group of delicate glass figurines? Or Faberge Eggs? Or neither?
Getting paid for not working is a concept I can embrace but not so much for the payor. As a line from a song would say, "You get your money for nothing". Lefty James Paxton was signed with the sincere hope he would contribute down the stretch in 2022, and Paxton contributed zero innings for his $10 MM haul.
Paxton delivered a fiscal surprise this off-season by grabbing a $4MM option for 2023. For a pitcher's fair market value, even with an extensive injury history, the Red Sox may benefit from a born-again career like his. So Paxton would lead off my glass menagerie, and fellow left-hander Chris Sale is closely behind.
Just who is Hanser Alberto? Mr. Alberto is a utility player who hit .244 for the Dodgers but also tossed more innings (8) than Sale did for the Red Sox (5.2) in 2022. Sale's five-year deal runs through 2024, and his injury history is about that of my former Ford Pinto - R.I.P.
Expect recovering from - and subsequently avoiding - injuries to be the key to failure or success for the 2023 Red Sox
If the Red Sox staff has a "Big Three," then the next potential member of the breakdown lane is righty Corey Kluber. Kluber resurrected his career with the Rays in 2022 (10-10, 4.34) and bagged 31 starts. Kluber is approaching 37 years old, and in baseball, the terminology Kluber is now classified as a "Grey Beard."
Kuber's 2019-2021 seasons are littered with visits to the I.L. Not a comforting situation when linked to Sale and Paxton. Age factors are not kind to baseball players, especially those with a history of tender arms. Youth prevails, or does it?
Garrett Whitlock made nine starts (1-1, 4.15) for the 2022 Red Sox and is being penciled in as a starter. Whitlock is also recovering from back surgery, which is not a situation to take lightly.
Whitlock is one of many possible young hurlers with an operational question mark. BSI's Moria St. Armand recently highlighted the versatility of Tanner Houck, who *sigh* is also recovering from "successful" back surgery. Seems the word recovery is popping up with frequency.
Why stop here? The rotation's future may hinge on righty Brayan Bello who has electrifying stuff. Once Bello started to get his rhythm in 2022, that was on display, so what better way to start spring training than to have Bello shut down? This is "temporary" and hopefully not a precursor to a more serious situation. This is reminiscent of top prospect Bryan Mata who had similar forearm issues that eventually translated into Tommy John Surgery.
That rotation is loaded with potential and equally loaded with possible disaster. I expect big things from the vets, but the issues with the younger pitchers can have RSN wearing out their worry beads.
Staying on the field has been an issue for Christian Arroyo, the presumptive second baseman, or is it now baseperson for 2023? Arroyo collects injuries like a Bostonian collects parking tickets. Last season Arroyo bagged 87 games but still managed a respectable 102 wRC+. Defensively his UZR/150 numbers are solid but not electrifying.
Next up on the broken toys list is Adalberto Mondesi, who managed a -3 wRC+! How is that possible? Mondesi is fleet of foot, rarely walks (career 4.4 BB%), has mastered the art of the whiff (career 30.2 K%), and is recovering from serious knee surgery. Knee=speed is not a favorable outlook. With rule changes, speed may have a rebirth, and Modesi could be key.
Mothers and fathers should have their offspring become orthopedic surgeons. Adam Duvall is the slugger in waiting, and Duvall is recovering from wrist surgery. We have witnessed what a faulty wrist did to Xander Bogaert's power numbers.
FanGraphs tracks injuries; the 2022 Red Sox had a jackpot year, and 2023 may replicate it. The recovery process is of concern, which applies to those I have mentioned. Rudimentary breakdowns during the season happen as a 162-game schedule wears players down, but manager Alex Cora is typical in the concept of time off for a player. The idea is to get the key players fresh as a daisy in September and not a wilted Valentine's Day bouquet.
How those rotation hurlers mentioned recovering would be the key to success in 2023. The bullpen has been fortified, and the new methodology for a starter is two times through the lineup and then decision time. Expecting 200+ innings from a starter is now an elusive goal, and innings are doled out like bread at a Great Recession soup kitchen.
On a visceral level, I expect (hope) the rotation stays relatively calm and injury free. If not, Chaim Bloom may have to contact Rick Porcello or even (Gods forbid) John Wasdin.