On Friday, the Red Sox will resume preparing for the 2020 season, having been shut down since the middle of March thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some thoughts until then.....
1. One on-line oddsmaker (Oddsshark.com) has listed the Red Sox' over-under win total at 31.5. Extrapolated for a 162-game season, that would translate to 85 wins, or, one more than the Red Sox logged in 2019. Usually, the Vegas wise-guys are pretty spot-on with their numbers and I believe that's the case here. The Red Sox appear, on paper, to be basically a .500 team -- give or take a game or two.
Of course, the difficult thing about attempting to predict what's going to happen in a truncated season should be obvious by now. There are so many variables here, not the least of which involves attempting to foresee how many players might be sidelined by a positive test, or, for that matter, injuries. Over a normal, six-month season, a 10-day trip the injured list for a tight hamstring would be no big deal. Here, it could represent about a quarter of the season (if it were to stretch to 15 days).
And if you're wondering, this particular site has six other A.L. teams finishing above the Sox in win totals -- the Yankees (37.5), Astros (35), Twins (34.5), Rays (34), Angels (32) and Indians (32) -- and the White Sox (31.5) tied with the Sox. That leaves the Red Sox just outside the playoff picture, not so far that they couldn't contend and slip in. All of which sounds about right.
2. It's been obvious for some time now, but news of the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season still stings. In New England alone, there are three Red Sox affiliates (Pawtucket, Portland and Lowell) and having them shuttered for the year takes away an affordable opportunity to watch pro ball -- and perhaps introduce some young fans to the game. To say nothing of those who depend on these affiliates for employment -- seasonal or otherwise.
3. Since games will only be consumed by fans via TV/Radio this season, the good news for NESN viewers is that the broadcast team will include both Jerry Remy and Dennis Eckersley -- along with play-by-play voice Dave O'Brien. The plan is for the trio to work all games -- even those at Fenway -- from NESN's Watertown studio, with proper health and safety protocols in place. Those precautions will allow Remy to do all (or the vast majority) of the games, something he wouldn't have been able to do if the Sox sent their broadcast team on the road with the club. Remy's age (67) and health history would have made his especially vulnerable while Eckersley, 65, had little interest in doing so many road games. At a time when fans will be more dependent than ever on NESN, it's nice that the best possible team will be in place for the entire season.
4. Among the most surprising omissions from the initial 47-man Red Sox player pool is