A year after one of the Theo Epstein’s loudest off-seasons, Ben Cherington has little void left to fill on the roster. Talent-wise, that is. So the clubhouse fell apart after the worst September collapse in baseball history, and if it weren’t for the MLB deciding to add a second wildcard, we may not be left wondering what could have been. It’s time to move on.New manager and general manager, still a world full of potential. If the season started today we would likely see a lineup like this:
Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Ryan Lavarnway
Darnell McDonald/Ryan Sweeney/Mike Aviles/Ryan Kalish
All right, so the outfield leaves much to be desired. Just remember that Carl Crawford is on our team and Ryan Kalish is waiting in the wings to take over in right field. (Both of them dealing with different injuries that should be taken care of within the first month of the season.) This team led the American League in offensive production for most of the 2011 season. The focus of the Red Sox should be much like that of their fellow Bostonians, the Celtics. It’s not a complete rebuilding phase, it’s an attempt to keep veteran leadership while assimilating younger guys into the lineup. People like Ortiz, Youkilis and Gonzalez clog the base paths. The Rays do a great job scoring because of their youth, not their power. With plenty of big bats, the additions (and/or retaining) of McDonald, Sweeney, Aviles, Kalish will provide more of a speed threat to opposing pitchers. Sweeney is also a great addition defensively. .996 fielding percentage in 6 years. The real issue? Like every year, pitching.
The starters, one through three, are about as solid as you can get in the majors without, ya know, trading for Michael Pineda or acquiring Hiroki Kuroda. Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz (in order) should have good years. Lester has the potential to be perennial if he gains the control we are used to seeing. His walks were killer last year. Then there’s John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Null and void, like a check with no routing number. Who will fill those gaps? Surely a kindergartener with a good knuckler would be their equivalent. Tim Wakefield is (probably) gone. Rightfully so, the American League has him figured out. Then there’s this dream about Daniel Bard moving to the starting rotation. If he can do it, more power to him. If it’s a disaster, you risk injury due to overworking a guy who is usually the most reliable set-up man in the league. A look at the pitching staff (in no order, really):
Jon Lester (SP)
Clay Buchholz (SP)
Andrew Miller (SP/RP/who knows)
Vicente Padilla (interesting case)
Matt Albers (RP)
Bobby Jenks (RP)
Franklin Morales (RP)
Felix Doubront (RP)
Mark Melancon (SU)
Andrew Bailey (CP)
Melancon and Bailey are fantastic pick-ups. Both young, All-Star potential guys. The rest of the relief staff? Coin toss. *side note: Prospects might loom huge this year. Listen for the progress of Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes.
In my opinion, if anyone were to move out of the ‘pen and into the rotation it would be Alfredo Aceves. If he’s your number four starter, you’ll have a shot. The ideal situation, however, would be to keep both him and Bard as relievers. Aceves/Albers/Jenks/Morales, Melancon/Bard, Bailey. Not a bad combination. So, who can be the fourth and fifth guy?
Apparently there will be no more big moves by Cherington prior to the start of Spring Training. The idea of adding Roy Oswalt is slipping away because of the necessity to “free up payroll” to acquire him. With J.D. Drew and Jonathan Papelbon coming off the books, I don’t understand how you’d still have to find space in your payroll. This is why I will never be a GM. Roy Oswalt is a proven veteran that has been hampered with health issues. He’d come at a good cost/reward ratio. The thing I am not thrilled with when it comes to Oswalt is that he has never pitched in the American League. He also has a >.300 batting average against the players currently on the Yankees roster. Yes, I look at that when researching pitchers.
Edwin Jackson is another possibility without probability. His asking price is too high (thanks, Scott Boras) and the Red Sox might as well look at bringing up a prospect before spending 10 million on Jackson. Much like Oswalt, he flourishes in the National League.
The most recent rumor is in regards to the Red Sox acquiring Gavin Floyd via trade with the Chicago White Sox. Floyd is 28 and in Boston years that’s 17. He is reliable, not an ace, but the kind of guy that really (not John Lacky really, really) does give you a chance to compete in the game. If it doesn’t require a big farm system haul, he would be worth the trade. He also has much better numbers against the Yankees and has spent quite some time in the AL.
There you have it, an entire article written about how the Red Sox are going to wing this whole pitching conundrum. They have the prospects to make a trade for a great, young talent similar to the way the Yankees picked up Michael Pineda, but it might not be worth committing too much thought, clout, or money to big names for a season that has yet to begin. Let the offense carry you and if needed, figure something out at the trade deadline. We all know the Mariners won’t be in it…Felix…???