Oh, if only I could convince myself that spring training stats meant a thing. If only Grapefruit League performance could be translated into results when it really counts. If only pigs could fly.
So, I am going to be the ultimate optimist and predict the 2013 season under the humble assumption that spring training actually means something.
What do I see in my crystal ball?
First, Jon Lester will be the second coming of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez combined. With renewed confidence under John Farrell, his Spring Training ERA of 0.75 will be carried over throughout the year. Well, maybe that’s a bit optimistic. How about something more “realistic” like an ERA of 2.25 with 24 games won?
If I can get that enthused about Lester based on his performance against assorted AAA players down in Florida, I can also say with great confidence that Clay Buchholz will be Lester’s main competition for the Cy Young Award.
The bearded Mr. B has merely pitched to the tune of a 0.79 ERA so far, and anyone seeing Twins' batters taking third strikes against him Thursday night knows that his stuff is magic.
At Fenway South in Fort Myers, Koji Uehara has yet to give up a run, and Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey have been lights out. Throw in Bailey for short relief, Junichi Tazawa for long relief and Alfredo Aceves for comic relief, and we have a bullpen that is virtually untouchable.
As for offense, Jackie Bradley will make the big club and continue at his .441 pace. Well, maybe not that high, but .330 shouldn’t be too much to expect. I’m ready to cast my vote for his spot in Cooperstown and retire his number right next to Yaz's. You don’t think that I’m being premature, do you?
Jose Iglesias, who hit a mighty .118 in 68 at-bats for the Sox in 2012, will be more like the shortstop he's been in sunny Florida, where he has sported a .297 average over 64 at-bats. Stephen Drew? Never heard of him, and you won't if Iglesias has anything to say about it.
Let’s not forget about Big Papi. Once he recovers, and he will make a full recovery and play 130-150 games this year, he’s probably good for at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI. He might even steal a base or two.
Which reminds me of another medical marvel, Jacoby Ellsbury. As long as he can avoid colliding with any moving, or even stationary, objects, he should be able to reproduce his 2011 season and play 158 games, bat .321 and steal 39 bases.
So I see all the pieces falling into place. The clubhouse will be light and cheerful now that Valentine’s Day has passed.
So bring on the 2013 season, and get ready for a Sox sweep in the World Series! You don’t think my expectations are too high, do you?