Nine Innings: In First Year With Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval’s Weight is No Big Deal

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Playing nine innings while wondering whether John Farrell’s pending contract extension includes deductions for puzzling tactical decisions…

1. Good to see that Pablo Sandoval showed up for his first camp with the Red Sox in shape. Sure, that shape is rotund, but it shouldn’t matter, at least now. I do wonder whether casual fans will expect too much from him as a hitter based on his high-profile, every-other-year star turns in the postseason for the Giants. He’s a fine player, but more of a complementary, steady type than a lineup anchor like a healthy Hanley Ramirez will be. But defensively, his quick feet and soft hands belie what he looks like he would be, and like El Guapo or Jonah Hill, he’s always performed better when he’s been heavy. His weight might be a worry at the end of his deal, but not now.

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2. Have to admit, Cole Hamels’s acknowledgement that he’d be thrilled to pitch for the Red Sox has further piqued my interest in seeing him come here. “Of course, I would [consider Boston],” he told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “It’s a fun city. There’s no better feeling than to have a chance to win every year, and they give you that chance. I’m all ears.” But it’s not piqued to the point of believing that Ben Cherington should part with Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart to bring him here. Hamels wants out. Philadelphia wants out from the contract. Eventually, the price will come down.

3. I don’t know if you’d call this evidence that the Red Sox are going to require an ace at some point if they plan on playing meaningful games in October, but there’s not a pitcher in their rotation that I’d take over the top six Washington Nationals starters.

4. I still think Hamels ends up in San Diego eventually. There’s no reason the Padres can’t make a further, serious play for him even after signing James Shields for a reasonable rate. And I’d bet Wil Myers is part of the package. That Matt Kemp-Myers-Justin Upton outfield looks cool if you’re in a deep National League fantasy baseball league, but in real life, it simply is not playable defensively in that ballpark.

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5. I’ve still got some skepticism about how Christian Vazquez’s bat will play in the majors, but man, that glove — and that arm — will be fun to watch every day. (Provided he doesn’t end up in, say, Philadelphia.) Vazquez threw out 15 of 29 attempted basestealers last season, or six more runners than A.J. Pierzynski nabbed in 19 fewer attempts. For further perspective: In 2009, Jason Varitek threw out 16 attempted basestealers … in 108 attempts.

6. Interesting note on Red Sox one-year wonder Adrian Beltre in this year’s Baseball Prospectus annual: Of his 62 career WARP (BP’s version of WAR, essentially), 28 have come in the past five seasons. The conclusion drawn by the author: He’s having a decline commensurate with that of a future Hall of Famer — yet he did not have a Hall of Fame peak. I think Beltre gets into Cooperstown someday, but another typically dazzling season or two wouldn’t hurt.

7. The next time Major League Baseball and the MLB Network run one of those Face of Baseball contests, I’m going to find a way to stuff the ballot box for Andrew McCutchen. The sport is flush with exceptional young players of various skill-sets and backgrounds, but McCutchen is everything you’d want your kid’s favorite player to be.

8. I’ll confess: The withdrawal from writing those bi-weekly Future Red Sox Slugger Giancarlo Stanton columns has been more difficult than I anticipated. Are we sure his opt-out isn’t in July?

9. As for today’s Completely Random Baseball Card:

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The Yankees can claim they’re retiring No. 20 to honor Jorge Posada. But we all know it’s really for Horace Clarke. As a friend who also happens to be a Yankees fan put it, Clarke is among a select few Yankees to have an era named after him, though not for the usual reasons.

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