As the end of spring training nears and the beginning of the Bobby V. era dawns, the 2012 Red Sox remind me a little bit of their edition from a decade ago.
Like the 2002 Red Sox of Manny, Pedro, Nomar, and, er, Tony Clark and Rey Sanchez, these Sox have tremendous talent at the top of the lineup and rotation but questions of depth and health to which only the long season can provide answers. Those Sox won 93 games and missed the playoffs. I figure the current Sox will win right around that number and earn one of the wild-card berths.
They’re also following a season in which the final chapter was miserable — as unlikable as John Lackey and that brigade was in September, the 2001 Red Sox were the most loathsome team I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching. Somewhere, Mike Lansing just tore up a lineup card in agreement.
That team reentered my conscious this week because, well, mostly because I’m a nerd. More specifically, an eagerly awaited order of old Baseball Prospectus annuals finally arrived — five or six in all, filling in the gaps in my library.
(I’m somewhere between completionist and hoarder when it comes to baseball books; I even have a few of those old “Scouting Report” books from the mid-’80s that provide insights along the lines of “Jim Rice is a powerful righthanded hitter.”)
(Update: Wife, via email: “By a few, you meant you just bought all of those too.” Yes.)
The 2002 Prospectus, featuring Adam Dunn on the cover, isn’t quite as appealing as the 1997 edition, simply because the latter makes three references on the back cover to Rey Ordonez doing something usually done through a straw. He’s not someone you want your shortstop to emulate or become, people.
Anyway, I greatly enjoyed reading the Sox capsules from the 2002 edition (and wish I knew which BP writer wrote them; there are no bylines in the annuals). So I figured it would be fun to throw together a quick quiz on a Red Sox team from 10 years ago that bears some resemblance to the one we’ll be watching come April.
The two decent leadoff hitters pictured — and if you don’t recognize Johnny Damon and Rickey Henderson, I’m presuming you ended up here by accident while looking for a Tom and Gisele gallery or something — aren’t included in the quiz, and just so you know, neither are Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, or Pedro Martinez.
And since this is from the 2002 BP annual, some of the references are to players who moved on before the start of that season.
Get your No. 2 pencils ready. The quiz begins . . . now. Answers are after the jump.
1. “Great starters are usually marked by their consistency, but —— was as inconsistent as a great pitcher can be, racking up good years interspersed with incredible ones in 1985, 1987, 1991, 1994, and remarkably, 1999.”
TATB clue: A joy to watch pitch when he was reasonably healthy, with filthy stuff and exceptional command, he’s the prototype of someone who belongs in the Hall of Very Good.
2. “————- pitched most of 2001 like a man with elbow pain. His curve wasn’t sharp, his sinker didn’t sink … [if] healthy he’ll make a fine starter, but his starting stint in 2001 shouldn’t give anyone false hope.”
TATB clue: He’s made 334 starts since, winning 146 games.
3. “April: .343/.356/.515/ Everything after: .241/.274/.363. Once word got around that —————– would swing at curveballs in the dirt, he got very little to hit the rest of the way . . . plays hard but is a total waste of the Red Sox’ time.”
TATB clue: Was traded for a pitcher who was huge in the Red Sox’ 2003 playoff push, but essentially buried by Grady Little in the postseason.
4. “Obtained for nothing as a former replacement player with a Quadruple A label, ————— outperformed Tino Martinez over the the last three years for about $15 million less.”
TATB clue: Somewhere, the original Roberto Hernandez stalks him with the intent of starting an “Anchorman”-style brawl, up to and including the use of a trident.
5. “He got his big chance, and he blew it. ———– is usually more than acceptable at the plate, but he did nothing with the whimper-stick in 2001, and at 32, he’s not likely to get another shot.”
TATB clue: Ended up having a decent run, but is no Carlos Pena, no matter what the movie might suggest.
6. “He just keeps right on rolling — out to the mound and through opposing hitters.”
TATB clue: You knew him as The Handsome One, though maybe you didn’t know you knew him as that.
7. “It’s a shame he suffered so many injuries over the last few years, because at one point he was an All-Star, one of the most underrated players in baseball.”
TATB clue: Nope, not Tim Naehring. But he played alongside him for some good years.
TATB clue: The best quote about him, hands down, came from Terry Francona. “I’ve seen him in the shower. He’s not the Greek god of anything.”
9. “The armchair psychologist’s dream. The radio talk-show host’s dream. Or both … If you’re hitting .300/.400/.500, no one cares if you question whether dinosaurs existed.”
TATB clue: If you really need a clue here, all I can say to you is: Bye, bye, bye.