Can John Lackey become a fan favorite in Boston?

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Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe has a list of Red Sox predictions for 2013. They’re a fun read, not because any of them will necessarily come to pass, but because so many of them are so very Red Sox. Here’s one, however, that not a lot of people would bank on:

Fans will come to like John Lackey. Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes, too. Lackey may not always say the right thing, but he goes about his business professionally and competes when he’s on the mound.

I get Gomes and Victorino. They annoy some folks, but generally not the fans of the teams for which they play.

Lackey, though, seems to have brought out so much ire among the fans and the Red Sox press. Way more than seems warranted based on his actions (hey, no one forced the Sox to give him that contract), but so much that it seems hard to imagine him becoming well-liked among the fans.

I guess anything is possible, but barring a Red Sox championship run — which Abraham does not predict, as he believes there is too much ground to make up — I feel like Lackey will be, at best, a sore reminder of a couple of bad seasons for the Sox.

 

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.