Steven Souza Jr. filling big shoes in J.D. Martinez’s No. 28

Surprised to be traded, Steven Souza Jr. heads to Arizona for what promises to be a key role on a Diamondbacks team that expects to be good.

The 28-year-old outfielder knew the Tampa Bay Rays were making some big changes but felt assured by management that he still figured in their plans.

As much as people were flying off the shelf, it seemed like I was not going to be one of those people, Souza said Wednesday in a conference call from the airport before boarding a plane to Arizona. It definitely caught me off-guard a little bit. I was definitely preparing for the role that I had there.

It was also odd that he was being celebrated for this moment of redemption when just a year ago he was facing a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer of his band. The suit was settled last summer and White dismissed it in a celebration interview as gossip. Then another reporter who also wanted to ask about the case was passed over and none of the women in the press seats was called on to question him:

After that, the behavior was mentioned begrudgingly, because it is a moment of celebration. But also, what has to be sold by the Olympics and then the media that covers it isn’t Shaun White the actual person, but Shaun White the Olympian. The American gold medal winner.

Sure, it’s still technically the offseason, but as of last week, spring training is underway. Traditionally, that means one thing: It’s time to hope. It’s time for fans of the best teams to hope for a championship. And it’s time for fans of the worst teams to hope for a surprise — a Cinderella run toward relevance. The regular season can slam shut doors of possibility, but right now, all doors remain open.

Hope is different everywhere, and it’s partly informed and moderated by preseason projections. Teams and fans aren’t going into spring training blind. Once rosters get more or less set, different analytical services use prior data to project what’s likely to happen. Here are the current projected 2018 standings at FanGraphs. There will be shifts between now and Opening Day, but they probably won’t be dramatic. Right there, you can get an informed idea of which teams look solid and which teams look weak.

From the fan perspective, maybe mathematical projections rob us of the fun of the unknowable. It’s clear the White Sox are rebuilding, but the projections also make it clear how far they still have to go. Without the math, it might be easier to dream. But allow me to let you in on a little secret: Projections aren’t destiny. Projections don’t work against hope. They just make clearer what’s being hoped for.royals_011

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