Red Sox injuries could lead to prospects getting a chance

Stephen Drew and David Ortiz are both expected to miss the start of the season. With that: Two prospects could be on the Opening Day roster and could even be in the starting lineup in New York on April 1.

Jose Iglesias was disappointed by the recruiting of Stephen Drew, who was expected to be the starting shortstop immediately after his signing. Iglesias hasn’t been overly impressive in spring training, especially with his patience at the plate (10 strikeouts to three walks). However, he has hit .292 with an OPS of .770 and 8 RBI.

He will likely get the starts at shortstop for Opening Day and the first week while Drew is out. With that week and the remainder of the season as a backup, Iglesias will need to prove that he can hit major league pitching. Iglesias still has time to develop, but 2013 maybe his final chance to prove he can be an everyday starter above the Triple-A level.

Jackie Bradley has become the surprise of the spring. Boston’s top prospect and No. 31 ranked prospect by Baseball America wasn’t expected to make the team this year. His performance and the injuries to David Ortiz and Ryan Klalish have changed things. With an open roster spot and the need for a starting left fielder, Bradley has come to play.

The 22-year-old center fielder has recoded a .433 average with a 1.154 OPS, notched 12 RBI, belted two homers and stole a couple bases. The prospect skipping Triple-A and moving to left fielder is a risk, but it’s an exciting one and something for Red Sox Nation to look forward to and to talk about.

Injury Report updated on Mar. 30:

Ryan Kalish 60-day DL: Right Shoulder—Is recovering from surgery and is expected miss five months to start the season.
Stephen Drew 7-day DL: Concussion—Was placed on the disabled list (retroactive to March 27) and is on pace to be ready to when eligible.
David Ortiz Day-to-Day: Right Achilles—Is recovering from surgery and could miss the start of the season.

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Ortiz and Saltalamacchia could power Red Sox 2013 lineup

The Boston Red Sox infield and outfield are better than most in fielding, batting average, OBP and scoring runs. They lack power for the long ball. The Red Sox 2013 lineup will find their home runs coming from the DH and catcher positions.

Red Sox new manager John Farrell should be comfortable slotting David Ortiz near the top of the heart of the Red Sox order and Jarrod Saltalamacchia near the bottom of the three-to-seven range.

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Two Boston Red Sox greats, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, make headlines

During the recent weeks, two former Boston Red Sox pitchers have made the media headlines.

Roger Clemens was NOT elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite his stellar career. A cast of players, who are thought to have used steroids, were up for vote this year and no one was elected for the first time since 1996.

Baseball-reference.com lists this year’s vote: here.

In more positive news, Pedro Martinez was named a special assistant to the Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. The team didn’t provide specifics on his role, but he is expected to play a part in player development.

Clemens and Martinez are two of Boston’s greatest pitchers in the team’s storied history, but not one pitcher has had his number retired in Fenway Park. To give due recognition of greatness, I have put together this list of the five greatest pitchers to play for the Red Sox.

I looked specifically at each player’s time with the Red Sox. If you are interested in ranking all-time pitchers based on their entire career, I suggest looking at Baseball-Reference.com’s All-Time Rankings. They used the Elo rating system to rank baseball’s all-time best pitchers, who meet a minimum innings, games and War requirement.

In my own ranking, I took into account the pitcher’s consistent and continued statistical excellence and overall domination of hitters compared to other pitchers of their specific era, what some now call a pitcher’s nasty factor.

I give honorable mention to Lefty Grove (Baseball-Reference ranking: #4). Grove had five All-Star seasons with Boston. He proved to still be star pitcher with the Red Sox, after his best and brightest years were behind him in Philadelphia.

My Top 5 Great Red Sox pitchers are:

#5: Luis Tiant (Baseball-Reference ranking: #60)

Tiant pitched for 19 seasons, including eight with Boston. In 1972, his second season with the Red Sox, Tiant went 15-6 with a 1.91 ERA. Over the next four seasons, Tiant won 20 or more games three times, finished in the top five of the Cy Young Award voting three times and was named to two All-Star teams.

#4: Smoky Joe Wood (Baseball-Reference ranking: #52)

In Wood’s first three seasons of 1909 through 1911, he won 46 games with a 1.96 ERA. In 1912 Wood carried the Red Sox to their second championship. He led all of baseball with 34 wins, including 10 shutouts, recorded a 1.91 ERA and 258 strikeouts. He won three games in the World Series, including the final game of the series at Fenway Park to conclude the park’s inaugural season. Wood had three more solid seasons in Boston, before an arm injury prevented him from pitching, and he went on to become at position player with a couple other teams to end his career.

#3: Pedro Martinez (Baseball-Reference ranking: #10)

Martinez won the NL Cy Young Award in 1997 and was traded to Boston before the 1998 season. In 1999 and 2000, he led the league in ERA, strikeouts and WHIP. He won his second and third Cy Young Award, and both years he finished in the top five of the MVP voting. Over his first three seasons in Boston, he won 50 games and was a three-time All-Star. In 2002 he won 20 games for the second time and led the league in numerous categories once again. In 2004 Martinez won 16 regular season games and three playoff games in the Red Sox run to their first World Series championship in 86 years. Returning a Boston legend and hero, it was an incredible and dramatic finale to his playing career with the Red Sox.

#2: Roger Clemens (Baseball-Reference ranking: #14)

Clemens broke in with the Red Sox in 1984, and two years later he earned the Cy Young and MVP awards by leading the league with 24 wins, a 2.48 ERA and a 0.969 WHIP. Also, in 1986 he set a MLB record of 20 strikeouts in a single game and repeated the feat 10 years later. He followed it up with another 20-win campaign and his second Cy Young Award in 1987. From 1988 through 1992, Clemens never won less than 17 games, and he led the league in ERA and shutouts three times. He won his third Cy Young Award in 1991. Clemens left Boston after 1996 and went on further solidify himself as one of history’s greatest pitchers. Despite the steroid scandal, Clemens belongs in this group and in the Hall of Fame. He dominated hitters before and during the steroid era, which he pitched in.

#1: Cy Young (Baseball-Reference ranking: #3)

Young joined the Red Sox as an 11-year-accomplished veteran in 1901. In his first three years with Boston, he led league in wins each year, twice leading all of baseball, totaling a combined 93 wins. Young lifted the Red Sox to a series win in the first ever World Series in 1903. Over eight seasons with Boston, he recorded a 2.00 ERA, 38 shutouts and 1,341 strikeouts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame as a member of the second class of inductees, and the award for each league’s best pitcher of the year bears his name. Young remains in top three of almost every all-time Red Sox pitching statistics category.

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Dustin Pedroia will anchor the Red Sox 2013 infield

Updated with January signing of Napoli

While the Boston Red Sox front office and fans talk of making changes to the 2012 last place team, Dustin Pedroia is everything they want to keep on and off the field.

If new manager John Farrell decides to go back to the days of nominating a captain, Pedroia is the man for the job.

A three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Pedroia has become the foundation of the team and a fixture in the infield. He will once again have someone new to work with as part of the double-play combination. Heading into his seventh season as the starting second baseman, he will also see changes at the corner infield positions from last year’s Opening Day.

Pedroia is expected to be fully recovered from surgery on his right pinkie and will most likely slot second or third in the batting order. Last year he hit .290 with 65 RBI and 15 home runs. The team’s spark plug led the Red Sox with 163 hits, 81 runs scored and 20 stolen bases.

What more do I really need to say about Pedroia. We all know what he is and what we can look forward to in 2013. The ultimate dirt dog with the all-star numbers gives us hope that the team can win more than they lose.

In January Mike Napoli finally agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives. Napoli adds power to the middle of the Red Sox batting order. He won’t replace Adrian Gonzalez’s fielding or production, but fans shouldn’t expect him to—and there was a reason Gonzalez was traded.

In his seventh season Napoli was an All-Star for the first time in 2012 with the Texas Rangers. The 31-year-old has a .259 career average with an OPS of .863, and he averages 33 home runs and 85 RBI per season.

The right-handed hitter, who has put up great slugging numbers at Fenway Park, will become their new everyday first basemen. He may even catcher a little, allowing Boston to get a left-handed bat in at first base on some nights.

On paper, Napoli looks like a great addition to the middle of the Red Sox batting order and fills their need for a first baseman, but his health and possible past steroid use is a huge concern. We have wonder if Napoli can still produce with his bad hips and if his previous number were inflated due to steroids.

Will Middlebrooks, who shot up Boston’s farm system to the top of their prospect list, was handed the Red Sox starting third baseman job, following the trade of Youkilis to clear the spot.

The 24-year-old was solid, but not overly impressive and dealt with injuries throughout the year. He batted .288 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI and an OPS of .835 in 75 games. He might have been better off dominating Triple-A pitching for the whole year, but it’s too late to go back now.

Middlebrooks is the unquestioned starter at the hot corner and can be slotted fifth in the lineup.

Going forward, Middlebrooks won’t give Boston much more than Youkilis did offensively and he will hurt them defensively, but the nine year age difference should imply that Middlebrooks is still improving and more durable.

The brother of J.D. Drew, Stephen Drew signed a deal to become the newest Red Sox shortstop.

In 2012 Drew struggled in Arizona, but returned to his normal production after an August 20 trade to the eventual AL West Champion Oakland Athletics. Over seven MLB seasons, the soon-to-be 30-year-old has a .265 career average with a .762 OPS and he averages 162 hits and 15 home runs per year.

With the top third of the batting order pretty much set, Drew could find himself hitting eighth or ninth for his new team.

Without an experienced shortstop, GM Ben Cherington and Farrell could’ve let prospects battle for the job. Their reluctance shows a lack of faith in the young talent and how much they coveted Drew. The Red Sox have been rumored to have interest in Drew for some time.

When Boston’s front office sets their eyes on a player, they usually get him. Hopefully for Red Sox Nation, this Drew has a better experience in Boston than is brother and Adrian Gonzalez, who were both rumored to be Red Sox targets well before their arrivals in Boston.

Prospects Jose Iglesias and Xander Bogaerts will help round out the group as backups, if they make the Major League roster. Pedro Ciriaco can also fill in for any infielder and play outfield as well.

Pending the signing of an extra infielder or the conversion of Ryan Lavarnway to play first, that is the Red Sox infield to be introduced for Opening Day on Apr. 1, 2013 in New York.

Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianRabuffetti

Sources:

MLB.com

Baseball-reference.com

Red Sox sign Mike Napoli: Is his health a concern due to possible steroid use?

Mike Napoli tweeted: “Glad to be a member of the Boston Red Sox family” MikeNapoli25  3:57 PM – 22 Jan 13

Media and fans thought the team and Napoli reached a deal months ago, but time passed without an announcement.  What took so long? It appears the Red Sox found a health issue and wanted to reduce the three-year term and dollar amount of the contract.

The right-handed hitter, who has put up great slugging numbers at Fenway Park, finally agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives. If he avoids spending time on the DL due to his hip injury and reaches other goals, he could be paid the $13 million that he was expected to get in the original deal.

The reason for the delay and restructuring was a degenerative condition in Napoli’s hip, according to CBSSports.com. The condition could have been caused by steroids or alcohol among other things. For more information on Avascular necrosis, click here to read the condition’s page from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

In his seventh season Napoli was an All-Star for the first time in 2012. The 31-year-old has a .259 career average with an OPS of .863, and he averages 33 home runs and 85 RBI per season.

On paper he looks like a great addition to the middle of the Red Sox batting order and fills their need for a first baseman, but his health and possible past steroid use is a huge concern.

Red Sox Nation has to wonder if Napoli can still produce with his bad hips and if his previous number were inflated due to steroids.

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Ellsbury signs 1-year deal and will center Red Sox revamped outfield

On Friday Jan.18, Jacoby Ellsbury received a decent pay raise from the Boston Red Sox, and the two sides avoided arbitration. On the last day to make a deal before an arbitration date would be set, the Red Sox agreed to terms with the center field.

From Ellsbury’s Twitter account: “Deal done! Excited to get to spring training!!!”

The one-year, $9 million contract gives Ellsbury a $1 million pay raise. Without a long term deal in the works, Boston’s 29-year-old star is still set to become a free agent after the 2013 season.

Ellsbury will take center stage in the Red Sox’s new outfield for 2013. The six-year veteran has become a constant on a changing roster during the last few years in Boston

Continue reading on Examiner.com

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Red Sox add slugging 1B to roster by finally agreeing to terms with Napoli

According to MLB.com and multiple media sources, the Red Sox and Mike Napoli have reached an agreement on a one-year deal. The right-handed first baseman / catcher will join team after all, but for $5 million with incentives instead of  the three-year, $39 million commitment that was first reported months ago.

With Napoli slated to play first base and hit in the middle of the order, I have updated my projected lineup.

Here is what we should see at the 2013 MLB Opening Day:

Batting Order

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