Skip to main content

Playing Pepper: Random Thoughts As Spring Sprungs

Here are some random thoughts about the coming year for the Red Sox organization.  I will put up a season prediction in the coming weeks as well.

  • Alex Wilson seems to be the forgotten pitching prospect.  With so much attention going to Workman, Owens, Ranaudo, Barnes, De La Rosa, Britton, and Webster, I wouldn't be surprised if it's Wilson who actually pitches in the most games for the Red Sox this year.  He's not the high-level talent of the other guys, but Farrell seemed to love his agressive approach last year and the fact that he's not as much of a prospect will mean the Sox won't hesitate using him out of the pen as much as needed.  Last year he pitched in 14 games for the Sox (all in relief) and had an ERA of 4.88.
  • Feels like Grady Sizemore is the ideal candidate for an extended spring training then maybe a few weeks at Pawtucket - assuming he stays healthy enough to play this year.  I'm not holding my breath that we ever seem him play for the Sox, but if we do he will be a good addition to the outfield in June or July when perhaps we have a better feel as to whether Daniel Nava can repeat 2013, how Jackie Bradley Jr. can hit in the majors, and whether Victorino can stay healthy.
  • With Ryan Lavarnway learning first base, it looks as though Christian Vazquez (23 years old) will be the starting catcher in Pawtucket with Dan Butler (27) backing him up.  That said, as with Wilson in the first bullet, Butler is the most likely candidate to spend significant time on the major league roster this year.  With Pierzynski and Ross both getting pretty old in Boston, and with Vazquez and Portland's Blake Swihart being top prospects in need of more minor league seasoning, Butler seems well positioned to see quite a bit of time in Boston this year.  It appears unlikely that the Sox would turn to Lavarnway again for that role when he barely played last year when called up.
  • Speaking of Lavarnway, it'll be interesting (to me at least) how the Sox utilize first base in Pawtucket and Portland.  Travis Shaw seems like the only prospect but he probably will have to prove his Fall League performance wasn't a fluke before getting called up from Portland (where he had an off year last year).  I'll be that the PawSox start the year with Lavarnway and Brandon Snyder switching off between first and DH, with outfielder Alex Hassan getting some chances at first as well.  Then who knows what happens if, hopefully, Shaw forces his way to AAA.
  • Outfielder Corey Brown is another player who might make a significant impact in Boston this year but who is not being talked about much at all.  He's a former top pick who is known for good defense in all three outfield spots, power, and a good eye.  The Sox are thin behind Jackie Bradley Jr. in center (Sizemore, Victorino.... Brown) and Victorino in right (Nava, Bryce Brentz... Brown).  Brown, like Butler and Wilson, could be a significant factor this year though if we see much of him it doesn't mean good things about Bradley and Vic.
  • I feel good about Will Middlebrooks at third.  Looking at last year and assuming he'll be even a little better than that, we're talking about 30 homers and decent defense from third base.  You're not going to find that on the market.  
  • Some Red Sox reporter should cover Xander Bogaerts' defense.  Everyone is so enthralled by him - as they should be - that there seems to be little or no coverage of whether he's actually a good shortstop defensively.  And that matters a lot for the Sox' chances this year!
  • I'm sick of people comparing Jackie Bradley Jr. or anyone else to Bogaerts.  Of course we have less confidence in Bradley than Bogaerts, X-man is an unparallelled talent.  Every comparison between X and another prospect seems ridiculous.  While he might flop, he's the most talented Sox prospect since at least Nomar, and many Fred Lynn.  This isn't like anyone else when they came up.  Phil Plantier was not Xander Bogaerts.
  • The Sox will probably go with Nava, Gomes, and Victorino to leadoff.  But what they want is for Jackie Bradley Jr. to succeed enough to leadoff in the second half of the season.  They have a ton of confidence in his mental capacity to take on challenges (like making the opening day roster last year right out of Double-A).  He's not a big basestealer, but he's an on-base guy with some pop who could steal 20 bases.  That's a leadoff hitter sometime in the next few years if he lives up to his potential.
  • I'm sensing a big year from Felix Doubront.  He's nasty when he's feeling good physically and it sounds like he's finally in good shape.  Look out.
  • I love Jon Lester, but does anyone else see that his "hometown discount" proclamation is a negotiating tactic.  The reality is that he was pretty good during the regular season last year, bad the year before, and great (great!) in the post season last year.  He's most marketable right now when we remember the postseason ace, not the guy with an ERA over 4.00 into mid-August (4.52 on August 2).  Lester is horse and I hope he's a Sox for a long long time.  But he isn't always an ace and he knows that he showed the best of himself in the postseason and that that means it's the best time for him - not necessarily the team - to resign. 


Popular posts from this blog

JD Martinez and Red Sox Depth

The Sox have signed JD Martinez; so, that's good.  His track record, personal reports on work ethic and attitude (aka lessons learns from Panda mania), and the fact that he's seen most of his success in the American League point to this being as sure a success as you can have in free agency.  He is getting a hefty pay check while the Sox aren't locked down for 6, 7 or Hosmer years.

Taking as a given that Martinez will be an outstanding hitter in the middle of the lineup, this signing - along with the signing of Eduardo Nunez earlier in the weekend - gives this Red Sox offense the most depth they have had since the 2013 champions.  That team taught us that it makes good baseball sense to go a few players deep at each position if you can, and to not obsess with how you'll find at bats for everyone.  Here we go again with that approach.

The 2018 Red Sox are remarkably deep and flexible.  When someone gets hurt, the likelihood is that that player will be replaced in the l…

The 2018 Red Sox Biggest Liability: Infield Defense

This Red Sox team is stacked.  At the moment, the biggest concerns seems to be the Mookie Betts hasn't been hitting and the fifth starter is likely going to be the perfectly capable Brian Johnson or Hector Vazquez for the first month or so.  But this team does have one real problem with it - and another possible one I'll write about later.  The infield defense has the potential to be pretty bad.  Given that I'm usually the one seeing hope in dark Sox times, I figured I'd try to dampen everyone's spirits now that we're cloaked in the warm glow of J.D. Martinez in a Red Sox uniform.

Based on what new manager Alex Cora has said so far, the Red Sox most likely Opening Day infield will be Hanley Ramirez at first, Eduardo Nunez at second, Bogaerts at short, and Devers at third.  That's a group that has the potential to really hit, but they also all have big defensive question marks.  It's not great when Bogaerts is your best defensive infield starter.  For the…

Sox Season Preview

Starting strong isn't a necessity for making a championship run but it sure helps.  Unfortunately, these Sox will need some real luck to get off to a great start.  They're starting off the year without their #2 starter, starting their 3rd best catcher, lacking a platoon partner for either 1B or 3B, missing their two best set-up guys, and expecting All Star caliber play from a rookie.  That said, all these issues should resolve themselves by mid-June and even a bad Sox '17 team should be in fine position to make a second half run.  But Sox fans will likely be pulling out their hair for the first month or two.

Things do have a way of working themselves out with good teams.  Last year, the Sox started the year with a pronounced lack of home runs, their best pitcher was the last guy to make the rotation (Wright) and we had gone through 2 catchers and lost a live Panda.  Things turned around with the team ending up 7th in the AL in homers - and by far the most runs - the league…