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Why You Won’t Be Able to Judge Red Sox by Opening Day Roster

with 17 comments

In recent years, the Red Sox were built to contend from the get-go.

Big Names. Big Contracts. Ready to do battle with the Yankees and all other contenders.

Of course, that strategy has not worked so well the last two years.

So this off-season, GM Ben Cherington has retooled the club, signing a bunch of 30+ year old free agents to fill the team’s holes. All on short-term deals (compared to previous free agent contracts).

It appears Cherington’s intention is fielding a club that’s in the pennant hunt, rather than building.

The player acquisition results have been pretty underwhelming for Red Sox Nation.

But it may be wise to withhold judgment on Boston’s roster when the season starts on April 1.

Look for the Red Sox roster to be more of a work-in-process during the season – much more than previous years.

What if it Works

Let’s suppose Cherington has accomplished what he set out to do – transforming a 69 win team into a 90+ win team (AL teams needed 91 or more wins to grab a wild card spot in 2012).

By going the free agent route as opposed to building through trades, Cherington has held onto his top prospects – including ones who could be major league ready soon.

Young players who could provide Boston a turbo-boost during the season.

It’s possible that Jackie Bradley Jr. or Bryce Brentz starts off on fire in Pawtucket and moves into position to play a role on the big league club.

How about a Jonny Gomes – Bradley platoon in left? (I am going to pretend a Jacoby Ellsbury injury replacement may not be necessary.)

Or Brentz emerges – setting up Brentz, Gomes and Shane Victorino to share starting duties in left and right.

And maybe Xander Bogaerts really is the next Hanley Ramirez, and bursts into the majors in 2013.

On the pitching side – Allen Webster or Rubby De La Rosa could be big league ready sometime during the season – adding a boost to the Sox staff either as a starter or in the bullpen.

Or perhaps Steven Wright goes Tim Wakefield on us – and rides his knuckleball into a hot streak.

Another option could be: Boston finds itself needing another veteran bat or (more likely) pitcher around the trading deadline.

So the team packages some of these prospects in a trade that attempts to put the Red Sox over the top.

What if it Doesn’t Work

Let’s suppose Cherington has failed at creating a pennant contender; he has great flexibility to make some in-season moves.

Boston can become a seller and move veterans to teams battling for playoff positions for young talent.

Cherington could transform himself into a modern day Frank Trader Lane.

  • Stephen Drew is on a one year deal. If he comes back but the team doesn’t, move him. Contenders like Detroit, Oakland, St. Louis and San Francisco all could be looking for a shortstop during the season.
  • Ryan Dempster was a hot commodity last mid-season – and he has no no-trade clause this year. Pennant contending teams are always on the prowl for starters at the trading deadline. If Dempster’s second year on his contract is an obstacle, Boston has payroll room to eat some money if the talent the team gets in return is worth it.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia. While his pending free agency may limit the return on trading him, teams like the White Sox, Yankees and Rays may be looking for a short-term catching solution. The Sox could get a little younger by moving Ryan Lavarnway into a starting role – provided he demonstrates, he’s ready.
  • Mike Napoli is a crapshoot going into this season. But if the bat returns and the hips hold up, Napoli is on a one-year deal and could be the type of power-hitter teams are looking to add. Clubs like Baltimore, Tampa Bay, San Francisco and maybe even Texas may buy into a short-term risk.
  • Joel Hanrahan. Another pending free agent, Boston could sell this power arm to the highest bidder at the trade deadline. Options could include: Detroit, Los Angeles and Cincinnati. And that doesn’t take into the consideration the one or more teams which eventually have some type of bullpen injury and need to hit the market.

And we have not even mentioned Ellsbury in a trade scenario. The thinking here is Boston wants to make a run at keeping Ellsbury long term. So if that’s the case, the team may want to hold onto him.

What’s your prediction – will the Red Sox be sellers or buyers at the 2013 trading deadline?

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17 Responses

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  1. I feel like if Hanrahan doesnt struggle with the market we will lock him up during the season. I dont feel he will be that expensive, and Boston learned to have a good closer is imperative. Salty, Drew, Elsbury, Aceves, Bailey, Gomes would all be available if we start slow IMO. They are places where we have prospects that need at bats, and they could be had at the MLB level if we struggle.

    Sean

    January 27, 2013 at 9:28 am

    • Hanrahan will be facing a big shift in how teams value closers. Look at Soriano this year – how hard it was for him to get a contract. And Valverde is still looking for a job. Teams look at Fernando Rodney’s year last season and are probably saying, why invest in closers, I have just as good a chance to pick one up off the scrap heap. Thanks for your comment.

      Albie Jarvis

      January 27, 2013 at 9:33 am

  2. If we were talking about any other GM I would agree that the Sox have players that could net decent prospects for in trade. But since we’re talking about Ben C. I dont have a ton of faith in his ability to do so. I use Cody Ross, Aceves, Bailey as examples, they should have all been traded for SOMETHING before the end of the year and the fact that 2 of them are still here boggles the mind.
    The fact that we’re this close to Spring Training and he has yet to acquire a LH 1B/LF platoon guy just goes to show how Slow and idiotic this man is as a GM. He continues with this “Lets wait and see” approach, which is Maddening for fans, while other GM’s are quite concise, delebrate… and go after what they want.

    willyssox

    January 29, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    • Your voice sounds like the collective thoughts of Red Sox Nation. Patience is running thin – and pitchers and catchers have not even reported. If the team does not fare well in 2013, Cherington will be facing some heat from the fan base, and maybe even from his bosses. Thanks for your note.

      Albie Jarvis

      January 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      • Why did we not claim Lars Anderson? We traded him, they waived him, we need firstbasman? Ryan Kalish will be on DL so a 40 MRSpot is open.

        Sean

        February 1, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      • My guess is: the Red Sox don’t think Anderson is a big league player. They have seen him for a long time and know him better than any other team.

        Albie Jarvis

        February 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

  3. […] Red Sox Post preaches patience for Boston fans. […]

  4. The Sox are not interested in making a run at Ellsbury long term.

    First of all he is a Scott Boras agent. That, coupled with the fact that in 2011 he came in 2nd in MVP voting = $$$.

    Secondly, as great as Ellsbury has been he has yet to prove he is durable. He has played 250 games in the last 3 years. That’s not something the Sox really want to take a 9 figure contract risk on right now.

    And thirdly (and probably most importantly), the Sox will get draft pick compensation if Jacoby Ellsbury leaves through FA. If he stays through the year the Sox will make a qualifying offer without thinking twice and will receive a compensation pick in the upcoming draft. That pick will probably be at a minimum of equal value to anything that they could receive for Ellsbury at the deadline (considering a trade to a new team would not allow him to be offered a qualifying offer by that team during the offseason).

    As much as I enjoy Ellsbury being on the Red Sox, for the cost that Boras will inevitably demand, the Red Sox are not seriously considering this option. They have shown that they covet their draft picks (they barely even perused the FA attached to draft picks this year (and because the Sox have the #7 pick, they would only lose a 2nd rounder). Jackie Bradley will be Ellsbury’s replacement and the Sox will reallocate that 9 figure contract to areas of greater need (hopefully Dustin Pedroia).

    PAR

    February 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    • The Red Sox have had their ups and downs with Boras – but have signed their share of Boras clients. And if they really want Ellsbury – they have the money to make it happen. Ellsbury has a lot to prove this season – and the Red Sox hope to benefit from it in 2013. And then we’ll see where it leads next off-season. Look at Michael Bourn (another Boras client), he is still looking for a contract. Thanks for your comment.

      Albie Jarvis

      February 2, 2013 at 10:23 am

  5. will myers? should have gone after him.

    g.beilby

    February 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    • Agreed – but based on the Rays-Royals trade, Lester would have not been enough. From here, it looks like Shields and Davis were better than anything Boston had to offer. Thanks for your comment.

      Albie Jarvis

      February 2, 2013 at 10:30 am

  6. The Red Sox have a glaring need in their batting order, the #3 hole, which requires a quality hitter who has both power and speed. They have no one, save and except Jacoby Ellsbury, if he can return to form, to fill that need. The assumption is Jacoby will be slotted as the leadoff hitter on most days. In the absence of making a deal for Miami’s Mike Stanton, the only hope is that someone among the elite prospects shines during spring training and is given the opportunity to fill the #3 hitter’s role, and excels once added to the batting order.

    hawkny

    February 2, 2013 at 7:59 am

    • Let’s hope Boston is calling Miami every day just in case they deal Stanton. Thanks for your comment.

      Albie Jarvis

      February 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

      • As much as I would love to get Stanton it would take probably something similar to Bogaerts, Barnes, and Bradley to pull it off (Bogaertswould definitely have to be included). Yes we would get a controllable young player but we lose 3 that have the potential to be perennial all-stars. If the Sox gave up Bogaerts, it would be HanRam all over: watching what could have been the Red Sox future play for Miami. I say wait on Bogaerts, he could end up producing the same value as Stanton and we would still get to keep the other prospects we would need to give up to make the trade happen.

        PAR

        February 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

      • I am with you on hanging onto Bogaerts. I am looking forward to seeing him this spring. Thanks for your comments.

        Albie Jarvis

        February 16, 2013 at 8:08 pm

  7. I just hope the red sox have a fire sale if they are out of contention come June and July. We have to build for 2014. I would trade for prospects that are ready for 2014.

    Harrison Potrzeba

    February 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    • They certainly have the flexibility to make deals if they are out of it. Thanks for your comment.

      Albie Jarvis

      February 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm


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