John Tomase

Amid scandals and disasters across MLB, Red Sox wrap up tranquil camp

The Red Sox have enjoyed a drama-free spring training compared to their competitors.

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No Negativity Week concludes with one final break from bashing the Red Sox. On Tuesday, we highlighted five young players with breakout potential. On Wednesday, we examined the possibility of improved defense. On Thursday, we delved into the offseason miss on Yoshinobu Yamamoto that might've been a blessing. Today, we wrap it all up.

You want positivity? Here's some positivity – at least the Red Sox don't have anyone wrapped up in a $4.5 million gambling scandal.

Manager Alex Cora has already declared this the camp of good vibrations, and there's something to be said for the relative stability of the roster, especially given what's happening across baseball.

Outside of season-ending elbow surgery for reclamation project Lucas Giolito – a blow, to be sure – the Red Sox are on their way to finishing the spring without disaster or drama.

One look across baseball makes it clear this isn't universally the case. The billion-dollar Dodgers have already absorbed not only Yamamoto's wretched debut, but Shohei Ohtani's gambling mess that could shake the foundation of the sport.

For now, Ohtani's camp is claiming that his former translator embezzled millions. The translator, Ippei Mizuhara, initially contended that Ohtani willingly paid down his gambling debts, before backtracking. They might both be lying, but more revelations are undoubtedly coming, and this is the last scandal the sport needs.

That's not the game's only legal issue. Closer to home in the American League East, burgeoning young Rays star Wander Franco is being treated as out-of-sight, out-of-mind, his career possibly over as he faces potential jail time in the Dominican Republic for having sex with a minor.

The Rays are expected to remove him from the 40-man roster before opening day, and it's unlikely he'd be allowed into the United States even if he could play, but for an organization that relies on churning out young stars, Franco's loss is as massive as his alleged behavior is despicable.

Tampa had hoped to replace some of Franco's production with another former top prospect in Jonathan Aranda, but he had a monster spring cut short by a broken finger that could sideline him until May. He joins slugging outfielder Josh Lowe (oblique) on the season-opening injured list as Tampa's offense takes another hit. At some point, even the seemingly endless supply of big leaguers emerging from the Tampa system must run thin, right?

The Red Sox, meanwhile, may open the season with Ceddanne Rafaela in center field, and top prospects Marcelo Mayer and Roman Anthony one step closer to the big leagues. The pitching staff remains a work in progress, but they possess enviable position player depth.

Then there are the Yankees. While losing Giolito is a blow to the Red Sox from an innings standpoint, that's nothing compared to the concerns over reigning Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole, who won't throw again until mid-April after being diagnosed with nerve irritation and swelling in his elbow. He's likely to miss the first two months of the season.

The Yankees have decided against surgery, but until Cole returns and looks like his old self, that concern will remain very much front and center. The Yankees have been linked to free agent Jordan Montgomery as a possible replacement, but in the meantime, their rotation is very much in flux.

Nestor Cortes returns from an injury-ravaged and ineffective 2023 to take the ball on opening day. He'll be followed by last year's free-agent bust, Carlos Rodón, as well as new Yankee Marcus Stroman, and nondescript right-hander Clark Schmidt. A bunch of guys you've mostly never heard of are competing for the fifth spot.

The Red Sox at least have youth on their side in a rotation fronted by Brayan Bello and likely to include Kutter Crawford, Tanner Houck, and Garrett Whitlock. There's zero depth, and that's a problem, but it's entirely possible Boston's rotation out-pitches New York's, at least as long as Cole remains sidelined.

Maybe that's an overly rosy view, but hey, No Negativity Week demanded it.

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