Posts Tagged ‘Bryce Brentz’
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?
Here’s the latest on left field for the Red Sox – a situation that doesn’t appear to be following in the Manny Ramirez, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski tradition.
Jonny Gomes says he is planning to grab more than a platoon role in left.
Of course, the issue is Gomes posts strong offensive numbers against lefty pitchers and weak ones versus righties.
The Red Sox are pretty much a by-the-numbers team – so it will be interesting to see how much opportunity Gomes gets when right-handers are on the mound.
We also have the sad story of Gomes’ potential platoon player – Ryan Kalish – needing surgery once again, a move that will delay Kalish getting on the field in 2013.
Unfortunately, it looks like Kalish is Boston’s version of Grady Sizemore (without first demonstrating the big league performance) – a player whose body betrays his all-out, aggressive style of play.
Here’s hoping Kalish can finally put the injury bug behind him.
Of course, with every setback, there is opportunity.
Enter: Daniel Nava, who will be fighting for a roster spot this spring.
More likely – given Mike Napoli and his hip issue – the Red Sox will be looking for a lefty bench bat, who can play both outfield and first base.
That’s not something Nava has done – and may be tough to demonstrate without some minor league experience doing it.
This blog has previously suggested Colorado’s Tyler Colvin for that spot. Another, more expensive, option would be Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones – although it’s hard seeing the Pirates part with him unless being blown away by the offer.
Logan Morrison of Miami could be another fit – but right now, he is penciled in as the Marlins starting first baseman. So Miami getting a replacement would need to figure in the trade equation – not necessarily coming directly from Boston.
One more name to include in the left field mix is Ryan Sweeney.
We know what can be expected from Sweeney: good field (especially arm), decent average, no power.
Sweeney re-signed with Boston on a minor league contract, so he could provide some depth at AAA Pawtucket.
Lastly, the Red Sox could have a new left field candidate develop over the course of the 2013 season.
Top prospects – Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz – are expected to start the season in Pawtucket.
A fast start by either player could rocket him up the organizational depth chart with a trip to Fenway.
In particular, keep an eye on Bradley who is a model of what the Red Sox want to be in 2013 and beyond.
What’s your plan for the Red Sox in left field?
Mike Napoli Almost in the Fold
There have been media reports the Red Sox and free agent Mike Napoli finally reached an agreement – although GM Ben Cherington says nothing is done yet.
Instead of three years and $39 million, Napoli will now get a one year, $5 million deal – which includes incentives that can bring the contract value to $13 million.
The Red Sox will be getting a motivated or upset-at-management player – or maybe some of both.
Napoli’s health situation must really be bad if he had no other alternative than Boston’s low-ball offer.
The situation leads one to wonder how much the Sox can expect to get out of Napoli.
Figure the physically demanding position of catcher is probably out for Napoli if he is an injury risk.
And don’t expect too much DH’ing with David Ortiz manning that spot.
With Napoli at first – expect the Red Sox to grab a lefty bench bat to back him up.
Casey Kotchman and Lyle Overbay have been suggested as possibilities – but their drawback is they are first basemen only. Ideally, Boston would want more versatility for the bench with a player who can handle both first and the outfield.
Another candidate to consider: Tyler Colvin – The Rockies are building and Colvin is a bench player. Boston should be able to match up for Colvin with an arm and/or good prospect. A lefty bat, Colvin can play first and outfield.
The Boston Herald looked at the top five Red Sox seasons from a first baseman. We will see if Napoli can crack the list in 2013.
Bogaerts Goes Classic
Red Sox super-prospect Xander Bogaerts will represent The Netherlands in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
This will be the first glimpse of Bogaerts against big league competition. Here’s a nice profile of the native Aruban from MiLB.com.
Prospects to Watch
Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Matt Barnes are universally seen as the current Big Three of Red Sox prospects.
A couple of second-tier prospects to keep an eye on:
- Bryce Brentz. He is Boston’s best power-hitting outfield prospect – a spot the big league team could use some help. Brentz had a strong post-season run with Pawtucket last season. The Red Sox hope Brentz’ late season taste of AAA positions him for a strong season. And if that happens, he could be the first outfielder to be called up in 2013, if needed.
- Anthony Ranaudo. Never give up on young pitching, especially if they haven’t had arm trouble in the pros. That’s the position the Red Sox find themselves in with Ranaudo, who had an injury-plagued 2012 season (but not involving his arm). Ranaudo is on a mission to return to form – and if he does, Ranaudo should rise on the Sox prospects list.
Let me start with, I agree teams should build from within through a strong farm system.
But this idea that teams – like the Red Sox – can’t sign free agents that require draft pick compensation is nonsense.
I get as Rob Bradford writes, the pick could turn out to be a quality major leaguer.
But the baseball draft is a crapshoot.
For every Mike Trout (taken #25 in 2009 – what were the other teams thinking?), there is a Daniel Moskos (taken #4 in 2007 – one pick ahead of Matt Wieters, not the money-saving move Pittsburgh was hoping for).
So if the Red Sox think Adam LaRoche (not Mike Napoli and his rumored injury risk) is the answer for the team over the next three years at first base, sign him.
Would you do a trade to acquire a proven major leaguer like LaRoche for:
- Kolbrin Vitek – drafted by Boston in the first round in 2010? Yes.
- Bryce Brentz – drafted by Boston in first secondary round in 2010? Maybe yes, maybe no.
- Anthony Ranaudo – drafted by Boston in first secondary round in 2010? Yes.
- Reymond Fuentes – drafted by Boston in first round in 2009? Yes.
- Bryan Price – drafted by Boston in first secondary round in 2008? Yes.
That said, it is not something a team should do every year because that move reduces their chances at striking gold high in the draft.
And the quality of the upcoming draft should factor into the consideration. With strong draft years something to weigh into holding onto picks.
Lastly, because the Red Sox were among the worst ten teams in baseball last season, free agent compensation would be a second – not a first – pick (and Boston would lose draft money available for that pick too). A position the Red Sox may not find themselves in again (if GM Ben Cherington did a good job this off-season).
A pure philosophy of avoiding free agents because of compensation is wrong-headed.
Just like how trading prospects for established major leaguers typically works out for the team acquiring the proven big leaguer, go for the major league talent.
The Red Sox say they aim to contend in 2013 and to do so, the team needs a quality a first baseman.
If LaRoche is the best choice – sign him, don’t worry about the draft pick.
What do you think? Should the Red Sox hoard their picks – or use them to sign free agents?
One of my favorite Hot Stove reports recently came out – Baseball America’s Red Sox Top 10 Prospects list.
There were no surprises on who were the top three players:
- Xander Bogaerts, SS
- Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF
- Matt Barnes, P
Although the order most likely shifted from what it would have been at mid-season with Barnes’ late season tail-off causing him to drop below Bradley.
But Bogaerts clearly stands above all other Sox prospects – with the potential to be a special player writes Alex Speier, who noted before Bogaerts this past season, the last Red Sox farmhand who was 20 years old or younger to hit at least 20 HRs in a season was Tony Conigliaro in 1964.
Checking in at number four was Allen Webster – who Boston grabbed from Los Angeles in the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
Of the top seven players on the list, Webster is probably the only one with a shot at the big leagues in 2013. Further evidence, the Red Sox return to contention is a multi-year building process, not something to expect to happen next year.
Ranked five through seven:
- Henry Owens, P
- Blake Swihart, C
- Garin Cecchini, 3B
All players multiple years away from the majors with each of them topping out in Low A ball in 2012.
Next comes Bryce Brentz who had a good year in AA Portland and then got a cup of coffee (17 at bats) in AAA Pawtucket.
Brentz has been playing in the Arizona Fall League, where he came in tied for fourth in a poll among players in the league’s Rising Stars Game. He has an outside shot to make a Fenway appearance in 2013.
Jose Iglesias – the leading contender for Red Sox starting shortstop next season – landed number nine, followed by another shortstop in waiting Deven Marrero.
Boston GM Ben Cherington says the team is not ready to commit to Iglesias at this point – and with good reason based on his big league hitting performance. Expect the Red Sox to explore trades and free agency to – at a minimum – provide at least a veteran backup for Iglesias.
Pedro Ciriaco could also get a shot at getting the starting nod over Iglesias.
Another Prospect Worth Noting
One more name pops up when Baseball America projected Boston’s 2016 starting lineup – Jerry Sands. ESPN Boston sees Sands as a potential sleeper for the coming season. He has shown good power in the minors.
How do you see the Red Sox farm system stacking up? Which players do you see playing a role in Fenway in 2013?
Gordon Edes kicked off the Red Sox off-season assessments with a post on who among position players are likely to be back in 2013 and which players probably won’t return.
Before we look at the players. Let’s start with manager Bobby Valentine. He should not return.
While Bobby V. is not totally responsible for the abysmal record – the Red Sox are behind the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners – the team plays and looks miserable with Bobby V. continually throwing gasoline on the fire.
Time for a fresh start in the manager’s job – and let GM Ben Cherington make the pick.
Takeaways for the Edes Forecast
- The Red Sox don’t have a lot of talent. Gone are the days when opponents would fear Boston deep into the lineup. Expect bouncebacks from Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury (more on him later). And David Ortiz still carries a big stick. Cody Ross and Will Middlebrooks are good – not great – hitters. Adding a couple big bats needs to be a priority.
- Don’t expect a lot in return for the players the Red Sox may be willing to trade like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles. Salty had a strong first half but has done nothing in the second half. And while Aviles is younger than Marco Scutaro – remember the return on moving Scutaro was only Clayton Mortensen. Expect the off-season acquisition strategy to revolve around free agency and the Red Sox acquiring players on the cheap who have priced themselves out of small markets.
- First base needs a complete do over. James Loney and Mauro Gomez are not 2013 solutions. Adam LaRoche could be a good fit as a free agent – if he does not resign with Washington. Or maybe Mike Napoli as a first base/catcher/DH combo.
Three big decisions for Cherington
- Go two years in an Ortiz deal? Maybe at market rate (read: paycut for Big Papi – which we know won’t fly with Ortiz); no if it includes raises from his current salary. The Ortiz injury is a good example of how older players are more likely to get serious injuries (he got hurt running the bases on a home run). Love Ortiz; an all-time great Red Sox but it may be time to move on. Let’s hope the team and Ortiz find some middle ground.
- If the team can’t sign Ellsbury to a long-term deal during the off-season – should they trade him? The answer here is yes. As noted above, the Red Sox don’t have a lot to trade. Ellsbury may be one of their best trading chips – to bring in some young talent. That’s a quicker return than getting draft picks for Ellsbury if he leaves in free agency. But the task could be tough – there is a strong group of center fielders in the upcoming free agent class. Cherington may find teams asking why trade players to acquire Ellsbury when you have attractive free agents?
- Go three years to re-sign Ross? The answer here is yes. Ross is a gritty player who produced this season. The Red Sox don’t appear to have a near-term power hitting outfield replacement in the minors – maybe Bryce Brentz in 2014. Keep Ross in Fenway.
What moves do you see likely related to Red Sox position players?
August Awards. Sox Prospects did their monthly minor league update of the best and worst performances. The highlights: Get ready for the Xander Bogaerts hype machine this off-season. Moving up to AA Portland, Bogaerts continued to excel. It will be very interesting to see where Bogaerts lands in the post-season top MLB prospect lists. Four of the five top August pitchers were A ball or below – a good demonstration of how the Red Sox lack pitching prospects close to the majors. Speaking of pitchers – Matt Barnes led the underachiever list. Probably not a cause for alarm – with Barnes in his first pro season. But it shows just how far Barnes is away from The Show.
Brentz Bringing It. One of the things I like about the Red Sox development approach is how they promote top prospects to the next level – as the season winds down. It gives them early exposure to tougher competition. Case in point: OF Bryce Brentz who recently moved up to Pawtucket. Brentz posted big numbers at Portland – including 17 HRs – and will now participate in the PawSox AAA playoff run. Before being called up to Pawtucket, Brentz was MiLB.com’s Eastern League player of the week.
Twenty-Twenty. Salem OF Keury De La Cruz became the first Red Sox prospect since George Lombard in 2005 to reach 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in the same year. De La Cruz is one of six minor leaguers to reach the 20/20 plateau in 2012.
Webster Ranking. With the Red Sox picking up P Allen Webster in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, MiLB.com updated its Red Sox top 20 prospect list – placing Webster at number three.
The transition of Daniel Bard from reliever to starter is not working. As a pennant contending team, the Red Sox can’t continue to experiment. The team expectations are too high.
So what should Boston do with Bard?
The Sox bullpen is clicking – putting Bard there right now would be disruptive. And given Bard’s recent performance – could hurt the team.
Better to either DL Bard (with a real or phantom injury) or send him to Pawtucket to try to get straightened out.
I would send Bard to the PawSox and have him pitch out of the bullpen – not the rotation.
It addresses a Red Sox potential need in the short term – perhaps getting his power arm ready (or more accurately, getting his power arm back) for the big club in the second half of the season.
And it addresses the long term – Bard’s no starter. Time to shelve that thinking. (For an alternative view on this position – check out Gordon Edes’ column.)
The Red Sox have Daisuke Matsuzaka getting ready to come off the DL and he can take Bard’s spot in the starting rotation.
I am not particularly bullish on Dice-K’s return – he wasn’t particularly effective pre-operation, so what can we expect post-operation?
But for now – give him a shot while the Red Sox do some shopping for another starter.
And as noted in a recent post, with Cubs starter Matt Garza at the top of the trade target list.
Red Sox Prospects Gain Weekly Honors
MiLB.com released its weekly minor league players of the week – with Red Sox farmhands landing some shout-outs. The top offensive player list included Portland OF Bryce Brentz who continued to pound Eastern League pitching and Salem 3B Travis Shaw who had four homers over the last week.
The weekly top pitcher list includes lefty Drake Britton – who has been just recently promoted from Salem to Portland. This is shaping to be a comeback season for Britton – rebounding from a 1-13 performance last year.
May Report Card. SoxProspects posted its best and worst performances from Red Sox prospects in May. Some takeaways:
- Last year’s draft looks like it delivered some top talent – notably, OF Jackie Bradley and P Matt Barnes.
- Portland OF Bryce Brentz was a beast and Greenville 3B Garin Cecchini looks like an “impact player.”
- While it is still early – P Anthony Ranaudo is falling short of pre-season expectations.
- There were no players close to big league ready on the best performer list.
Minor League Round-up. Alex Speier provided his weekly review of the Red Sox farm system. Of note:
- PawSox SS Jose Iglesias is still out with a bad back – which could be an issue if 2B Dustin Pedroia can’t get back on the field soon and help is needed in Boston.
- Lefty pitcher Drake Britton was promoted to AA Portland after a stretch of seven strong starts for Salem – with numbers: 2.76 ERA, 36 Ks in 32 2/3 innings.
- C Blake Swihart – a top pick in last year’s draft – has started hitting well in low A Greenville.
Lavarnway – Trading Chip? Pawtucket C Ryan Lavarnway is known for his bat – but so far, he is not repeating the offensive performance he delivered last season for the PawSox. Lavarnway says he is not sweating the slow start. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia putting up All-Star offensive numbers, look for Lavarnway to be a potential bargaining chip in any deal the Red Sox make to fortify the big league club.
Prior Moving Up. The Red Sox promoted former big leaguer Mark Prior to Pawtucket. Prior is six years removed from pitching in the majors – shows you how far and wide teams will go in their search for quality pitchers.
One That Got Away? Former Sox farmhand Miles Head made this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet. Boston sent third baseman Head to Oakland in the Andrew Bailey trade. Head hit .571/.636/1.143 (16-for-28), 3 HR, 3 2B, 2 3B, 9 RBIs in the past week.
Here’s a quick list of things to watch for among Red Sox Prospects.
Will Middlebrooks. He had a great year in AA Portland last season – but poor results in a short AAA Pawtucket stint. Middlebrooks is a player who has shown steady improvement each year in the minors. Will he continue his progression with the PawSox this season – and establish himself as heir apparent to Kevin Youkilis at 3B? And be ready for a 2012 call-up if Youkilis gets hurt once again?
Anthony Ranaudo. Another “tale of two cities” performer last year. Ranaudo delivered in Low A Greenville but was pretty mediocre in High A Salem. It was Ranaudo’s first year in pro ball – so most likely adjustment was needed to the longer season. Does Ranaudo step it up in 2012 and show he can be a #2 or #3 starter? Do the Red Sox push Ranaudo getting him to Portland during the season?
Xander Bogaerts. He more than held his own as an 18 year old SS in Greenville (16 HRs, 45 RBIs in 72 games). How fast will the Red Sox push Bogaerts – Salem seems likely, perhaps even at the start of the season. Will Bogaerts reach Portland? And the bigger question – how high does he move up the charts on the top MLB prospects lists?
Jose Iglesias. He was a media darling this week – fielding grounders in pre-camp workouts. Iglesias added some muscle in the off-season. Will this additional strength help him move beyond being a good-field, no-hit SS? And whether he hits or not – will the performance of the Mike Aviles – Nick Punto combo – push Boston to promote Iglesias during the 2012 season?
Bryce Brentz. He fits the bill for what the Red Sox need most offensively: a righty power hitter who can play RF. Brentz has a breakout year last season – smashing 30 HRs with stops in Greenville and Salem. Will he continue the success in Portland – with perhaps a jump to Pawtucket during the 2012 season? And establish him as a bona fide big-league power hitting OF prospect?
Who’s on your “watch list” for Red Sox prospects? And what are you watching for them to do in 2012?