WORCESTER -- The Red Sox will go into the start of spring training with a number of jobs open for competition, a task made more difficult by the fact that spring is a tough time to evaluate players.
Managers and executives often say that March and September are the toughest two months to evaluate. But given that there are openings at shortstop, right field, the starting rotation and the bullpen, the Sox have no other choice.
"You rely on your evaluators and you make sure you're not fooled by results,'' said manager Bobby Valentine, who appeared at a Town Hall event at Worcester Technical High School. "The reason spring training is a bad indicator is people use the results of spring training as the indicator of the evaluation. And that's foolish, I think.
"But because we have a lot of very talented people in uniform and out of uniform who are going to be watching these guys day-in and day-out, we'll make a pretty good guess. You have to understand what you're looking at and then hope that the bright lights (of the regular season) don't change anything. But I think you can at least make a proper talent evaluation, given seven weeks of spring training.''
"Spring training is a difficult competition place . . . It takes a little imagination and some times you make the wrong decision. It's never the end of the world -- a wrong decision in April."
Said GM Ben Cherington: "It's not an ideal time to evaluate, but there are things that you can evaluate. You can certainly evaluate health, raw physical ability, if a guy is healthy. And then you can combine that with track record and get a pretty good sense for what a guy is capable of doing."
More complicated, said Cherington, is evaluating players like Daniel Bard, who's moving from the bullpen to the rotation.
"That's a little bit more involved,'' said Cherington. "We've got to look at different things. We've got to look at how they're responding to different things, how they're bouncing back and their work between outings.
"But teams have done it in the past and figured it out and we'll just have to figure it out ourselves.''