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The Red Sox have some hefty contracts that are a bit up in the air in terms of working out. Most notably is that of Pablo Sandoval, who struggled in 2015 in his first year in Boston and through much of spring training, but there is also Rusney Castillo, who is likely looking at his last chance to secure a starting gig in Boston. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, who did not hand out either of those deals -- nor any of Boston's other major signings besides that of David Price, as he joined the organization in August -- told his coaching staff not to worry about contracts when figuring out who plays where and how much. For players like Sandoval and Castillo, that could be terrible news. For the Red Sox, it might be just what they need.
This is how we ended up with manager John Farrell outright saying that Pablo Sandoval is fighting for his job, and that Travis Shaw and his league-minimum salary could take over at third as early as Opening Day. This is how when, we hear that David Murphy might retire if he doesn't make the big-league roster out of spring training, we can wonder if that means Castillo is going to be the one sent to Triple-A after a tough spring full of ground balls. It doesn't matter that Castillo is still owed $56.5 million through 2020 or that Sandoval has four years and $75 million still coming to him. If the team is better with other players in the lineup, then other players will play.
From a cost perspective, it doesn't harm the Sox one bit. Yes, Sandoval would be an expensive bench player, but taking Sandoval out of the lineup doesn't cost them anymore than they were already spending. It also very well could be just what Sandoval needs to hear to get him back to being the player the Sox thought they were getting: whether it's coincidence is unknown, but Sandoval has been hitting and fielding significantly better (and with seemingly more effort in the latter category) since his job was publicly put on the line. The Sox stand to benefit either way, and now Farrell has more authority to do what needs to be done to win. Something the Sox haven't done a whole lot of, despite all that money, since 2013.
- While we're on the subject: what would the Red Sox look like if they had rebuilt instead of spent after 2014's last-place finish?
- First Josh Donaldson wins the MVP instead of Mike Trout, and then he starts doing weather updates. Trout better watch his back.
- Andre Ethier is set to miss 10-14 weeks with a broken leg, as the Dodgers' miserable spring continues.
- Kevin Gausman looked like he was finally getting a shot to stick in the Orioles' rotation, but now he's received a cortisone injection in his shoulder and might not be ready for the start of the season.
- You'll want to read this article on Pirates' manager Clint Hurdle going all-in on some lineup construction tips you might recognize from last decade's sabermetric research.
- The Rays' visit to Cuba was a reminder that baseball unites Americans and Cubans, and that it could end up being a way to make the lives of all Cubans better in the long run.
- The game also gave us the chance to realize that Michelle Obama is the baseball ambassador we deserve, but some of us already knew that. After all, some of us hoped she'd be the next commissioner in MLB after Bud Selig returned to his crypt.
- If you love all of Joe Maddon's zany, quirky ideas, then you'll be happy to know that he had a mime run the Cubs' warm-ups on Monday. If you are so over Joe Maddon's zaniness, you will be happy about the mime, but only because it gives you even more reason to be annoyed with the Coolest Dad in the game.