Dustin Pedroia, reigning MVP: American League Rookie of the Year in 2007 . . . AL MVP in 2008 . . . what can he possibly have in store for an encore? Curiously, it seems like most of the major projections have him falling off slightly in most offensive categories -- the Bill James Handbook has him at .315 with 15 homers and 78 RBIs. I tend to think he'll hit with slightly more pop this season -- particularly if he gets wind that the numbers-crunchers are expecting some regression. Once again, Pedroia will use any slight -- real or perceived -- as fuel toward becoming the best possible baseball player he can be. I won't go so far as to predict another MVP award -- last season, a lot of things fell his way, including Carlos Quentin's injury -- but he will again rank among the elite, and it will be an absolute joy to watch him day after day.
Jason Varitek and the catching situation: Hey, look -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia has a home run today. I'm convinced. Can the Sox trade for him by tomorrow? (All right, I'll give the Tek Redemption a fair chance. He did have a good spring, and he's in sick shape. Maybe .240 with 15 homers isn't out of the realm of possibility. Again: Hope springs eternal. Even in soon-to-be-37-year-old catchers.)
The usual stuff we talked about all freakin' spring: Mike Lowell's hip, Big Papi's wrist, Josh Beckett's shoulder, J.D. Drew's various maladies . . . you know the questions. While the spring gave us cause for optimism in most cases -- particularly Beckett's -- we'll finally start getting some answers beginning today. Provided, of course, that it doesn't rain.
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As for today's Completely Random Basketball Card:
Hard to expect him to make the Hall of Fame in this year's epic class, but I refuse to make the pilgrimage to Springfield until DJ (and Bernard King) have their rightful place.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.