I’d like to tell you that I’m sipping a tropical drink on a beach in Tahiti, but in reality, I’m sitting in my driveway on a folding chair, choking down a warm beer. It’s giving me plenty of time to ponder the first half of the 2012 season. Actually, “first half” is a misnomer. The PawSox have about 50 games remaining on their regular season schedule. Nonetheless, I thought I’d share some of my most vivid memories.
Most pleasant surprise- In my mind, it’s Daniel Nava. All but forgotten, Nava didn’t even receive an invitation to Major League camp this Spring. I shudder to think where Boston would be without him. Now Bobby V and all of the Nation realizes that Nava is a vastly improved player. He isn’t the novelty that hit the grand slam off Joe Blanton in 2010. Furthermore, if I had a son, I’d want him to be Daniel Nava.
Will Middlebrooks- The young man has lived up to the hype. Will tore up the I.L. in April and has done so well in Boston, that Kevin Youkilis became expendable. The 23 year old should become a fixture at third base for a long time. His future is so bright, he needs sunglasses.
Good signs- The Red Sox did an amazing job signing veteran free agents this year. Easily the best I’ve seen in my nine years at McCoy. Mauro Gomez, Pedro Ciriaco and Justin Germano were all named to the I.L. All Star team. Aaron Cook and Ross Ohlendorf were valuable contributors.
The evolution of Ryan Lavarnway- Ryan is also an All Star. He is among the league leaders in batting average. Despite a drop in power numbers, Lavarnway is driving the ball to all fields. He is getting his doubles and he is knocking in runs. He is also catching every day for the first time in his career, which could explain the diminished power. His defense is greatly improved. I challenge anyone who thinks otherwise, to come and watch him play. You are wrong.
Jose Iglesias- the 22 year old shortstop will someday be a perennial M.L. All Star. His defense comes from another world. He’s a magician. Quick feet, strong arm, great range and a knack that just can’t be taught. The bat has improved. He was set back by a month off with a back problem. He also happens to be the most loveable guy you’ll ever meet. He enjoys life.
Brandon Duckworth- ace of the Pawtucket staff. Look up the word “pro” in the dictionary. You’ll see his picture. He gives you a real chance to win every five days and he’s a leader. I’d like to clone him.
Alex Hassan- after an 0-17 start in April, Alex hit the ground running. He is a solid outfielder and a hitter who will continue to get better. Great first year in the I.L. Like Middlebrooks, Hassan needs shades.
Daniel Bard- the talented righty continues to show signs of the brilliance that made him one of the top relievers in the Bigs for the last few years. He has also labored at times. Daniel has handled everything professionally and politely. You can’t help but root for him.
The PawSox will be back at it on Thursday, trying to add to their modest, yet encouraging 2 game winning streak. Until then, enjoy the All Star break and have a warm beer on me. Thanks for hanging out. Hydes