The New Hero in the Dark

Last year, Hideki Okajima induced chuckles everywhere when he told the press corps he was perfectly fine being in Daisuke Matsuzaka’s shadow.

"I am willing to be a hero in the dark," he said. You may have heard this quote roughly 2,000 times by now.

The problem with being a hero in the dark is that you can’t do it twice. Put it this way: In October, the Colorado Rockies weren’t exactly wondering why Matsuzaka had suddenly developed a massive neck twitch during his delivery. Okajima was no longer in shadow.

So for the Red Sox to be successful in 2008, another hero will likely have to emerge from the shadows. Someone we don’t expect to be a major contributor but who — either through talent or circumstance — requires he be used regularly by October.

My nominee: Craig Hansen.

Hansen is fresh off surgery for sleep apnea; he’s told the press he feels well rested for the first time in years. He seemed to finally have put it together at the end of 2007 after a year-plus of horrific struggles. So mark it down: Craig Hansen will be the bullpen cog the Red Sox can’t be without come the September pennant race.

With this, the final day before pitchers and catchers report, and some congressional hearing going on in Washington, let’s use this thread for some old-fashioned, optimistic spring baseball discussion.

Who do you see as the 2008 hero in the dark, for either team?

12 comments… add one

  • It’s definitely gonna be Edwar.

    AndrewYF February 13, 2008, 1:04 am
  • Well okay, either him, or David Robertson.

    AndrewYF February 13, 2008, 1:05 am
  • Doug Mirabelli.
    Seriously….You can stop laughing now.
    Always bet on Doug.

    Pat February 13, 2008, 3:45 am
  • I clicked on this with the full intention of saying Doug. Pat beat me to it.
    Here’s to Belli, who’s been the hero in the dark for YEARS now.

    Kazz February 13, 2008, 5:51 am
  • I’d say Manny Delcarmen. I think he comes up big this year and puts the rest of the bullpen (with the exception of Paps) to shame.
    On the Yanks I too think it’s Edwar Ramirez. He showed brilliance in-between home runs last season, despite being possibly the skinniest player I’ve ever seen.

    Atheose February 13, 2008, 8:24 am
  • As I have mentioned before, I have had the absolute displeasure of hanging out in a social situation with Hansen and he’s quite possibly the biggest d-bag on the planet. The way he treats people that he views as “below” him is reprehensible. The way he treats female bartenders would make your skin crawl.
    I realize as fans we have to try and ignore a players off-field antics, but this is just too close to home. I loved the fact that he had a year and a half of suckitude and I was hoping he would just go away. I never wanted to be in a position where I had to root for him again.

    LocklandSF February 13, 2008, 9:15 am
  • I vote Delcarmen. He has too much stuff to not put it together this year. He’s too good.

    Brad February 13, 2008, 9:52 am
  • What little i’ve seen of Delcarmen has been pretty impressive. He’s got nasty stuff. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if he becomes the Sox’ best setup man this year.
    For the Yanks, I’m hoping Edwar and Humberto Sanchez can provide some effective relief work, but I’m going to go all alone on a shaky limb and pick Kyle Farnsworth for my 2008 sleeper. Girardi has reportedly claimed he can “fix” him and is making it a top priority for the season. So I’m taking the long shot and betting on Jow and Krazy Kyle.

    Mark (YF) February 13, 2008, 11:09 am
  • Ohlendorf. I don’t see any reason why Edwar would dramtically improve his HR rate.

    YF February 13, 2008, 1:31 pm
  • According to an article on mlb.com, Tavarez is in the running for the fifth starter position – now THERE’s a hero in the dark.

    rootbeerfloat February 13, 2008, 4:02 pm
  • Saw that coming, RBF. Despite his ERA he wasn’t horrible last year, and he ate up innings. Expect him and Buchholz to share the #5 slot.

    Atheose February 14, 2008, 9:33 am
  • I’m not sure if JD Drew counts as a “hero in the dark” but I truly think he will have the season we’ve been waiting for in 2008.
    .285, 20, 90, 30 doubles – you heard it here first…

    Bottomline Rob February 14, 2008, 4:04 pm

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