In the next upcoming days Bloody Sox will be posting 2012 positional review/early 2013 positional roster speculation pieces for each and every position. There will be 7 pieces total breaking down how each position performed as a unitlast season as well as previewing how each position shapes up for next year. No heavy speculation or Earth-shattering insight, just some simple primers to get ready for the offseason.

Whether or not you are comfortable labeling this upcoming offseason and next season a transitional period or even the start of a rebuilding process, this offseason figures to be wildly unique in regards to what us Red Sox fans have grown accustomed to. There are plenty of roster spots up for grabs, numerous positions of glaring weakness and the club now has a farm system that is once again a strength and not a weakness. The team has less money committed for the upcoming season than it has in ages and ultimately there exists more financial flexibility than there has been in years. That flexibility was created at the expense of losing a lot of talented players. The Red Sox figured to have learned from past fiscal mistakes, and can be expected to act with a bit more restraint in regards to the salaries they hand out. The 2013 roster as currently constructed is far less talented than it has been in a while, and GM Ben Cherington and the rest of the front office certainly have their work cut out for them.

Ben Cherington has a lot of work to do to get Boston back to World Series contenders

This year’s free agent class won’t have the collective talents to meet the market’s needs, which is not a good thing for a team in Boston’s circumstances. The talented players come at a premium, and if the goal is not to hand out big bloated contracts, well, that might prove impossible to accomplish.

The Red Sox have 4 players signed to contracts for next season. John Lackey will make $15.25M, Dustin Pedroia $10M, Jon Lester $11.625M, and Clay Buchholz $5.5M. That is only $42.437M in committed contracts.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Andrew Bailey, Alfredo Aceves, Craig Breslow, Ryan Sweeney, Mike Aviles, Daniel Bard, Franklin Morales, Rich Hill and Andrew Miller are all entering arbitration. It’s a safe bet to guess that collectively that group will make anywhere between 30-40 million dollars next season. The rest of the roster is full of players on their rookie contracts.

A very rough estimate of where the Red Sox will be after arbitration is about $80-90 million. Considering the fact that the Red Sox haven’t had a payroll under $120 million in almost a decade now, it’s obvious the team will have piles of money to spend. Last season’s opening-day payroll, for example, was $175 million and the two years before that were both over $160 million.

There are a countless amount of approaches the club can take to this offseason, and much of it is contingent on what the front office’s expectations for next year will be. Though reluctant to say so, it might be best to use next year as a true rebuilding and transitional season; don’t splurge on the big name free agents, continue to build the farm, and see what you have in regards to the young players that are major league ready. The Red Sox fan base is inherently spoiled at this point, and three years without playoff baseball seems like an eternity to most. But rushing things and not being realistic in terms of how good this team really is only will serve to be disingenuous and counterproductive. The reality is that the Red Sox will enter next season as underdogs and that should now be embraced. You can’t win every year, and sometimes trying to do so only backfires. This team has learned that the hard way, and now it’s time to fix things up again.

 

The first positional capsule will be the on the catching position. It is posted below. Here is the rest of the schedule for these pieces.

Saturday October 13: First Base
Sunday October 14: Second and Third Base
Monday October 15: Shortstop
Tuesday October 16: Outfield
Wednesday October 17: Starting Rotation
Thursday October 18: Bullpen

I am not exploring the DH position in depth. We know what we have in David Ortiz, and the prognosis for 2013 is completely contingent on him returning. If he returns we will be in great shape. If he doesn’t, well, we will speculate about it when and if that time comes.

Hope you enjoy, and feel free to comment.

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Anyone who has followed the career of Josh Beckett knows that he is reluctant to change. Pitching coaches and managers have come and gone and all ended up throwing up their hands and saying that the best way to deal with the big righthander is to let him do his thing. Apparently, Beckett is now reluctant to turn the pages of the calendar as well.
Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration but there is a very odd statistical anomaly in Beckett’s performance this year. Consider the following:

Date Opponent IP H R ER BB K HR
April 7 @ DET 4.2 7 7 7 1 3 5
May 10 CLE 2.1 7 7 7 2 2 2
June 6 BAL 8 5 2 2 0 5 0
July 6 NYY 5 8 6 6 2 5 0
Aug 8 TEX 5 8 8 8 2 2 3
Total 25 35 30 30 7 17 10

 

That trail of tears amounts to a line like this: ERA: 10.80, WHIP 1.680, K/9 6.12, HR/9 3.60

What do those starts have in common? Those are Beckett’s first starts of each month of the 2012 baseball season. It’s hard to believe that his ERA would be above 11.00 in first starts of the month were it not for a terrific outing against the Orioles on June 6.

What makes these starts even more curious is what happens during the rest of the month. Generally speaking Beckett looks like the kind of guy that you’d hand a $68M/4yr contract with ERA 3.46, WHIP 1.200, K/9 6.82, HR/9 0.203.  It’s a dramatic change for Beckett once he gets into the rest of the month. His ERA would be in the top 30 among qualifying pitchers, occupying a spot with C.J. Wilson and Gio Gonzalez. The same is true of his WHIP.

What does it mean? Probably nothing at all, just one of those odd curiosities along the 162 game marathon known as a season of major league baseball.

The again, if you’re still holding out hope for a one-game Wild Card playoff you better hope that someone else is lined up for their first start of October.

In 2001, the Red Sox had one lone All-Star — Manny Ramirez. Since then they haven’t had fewer than three, and more often than not, they have been represented with five or more players (7 of the last 10 years). After a relatively slow start, it might not come as a surprise at all that the Red Sox may be looking at one lone representative for the first time in over a decade.

The fourth and final update for the American League balloting for this year’s All-Star game was released Monday. The voting starts to paint the grim picture (assuming you actually care about thing such as All-Star appearances) that suggest that for the first time in a decade, the Red Sox might only produce one All-Star.

While the the All-Star is often nothing but a popularity contest in most cases, it truly does look like the Red Sox only have one deserving candidate: David Ortiz.

Here is a summary of the voting as of Monday:

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And then there was one…

The trade of Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox Sunday leaves the Red Sox with only one carryover from the 2004 World Series winning team: David Ortiz. Youkilis might have not played a large role in that 2004 World Series championship, but he was bred to exemplify the personality that was birthed from those championship teams. He was one of the last of the true Boston Dirt Dogs; players molded from the likes of Trot Nixon, Brian Daubach, Kevin Millar, Lou Merloni and Jason Varitek. He was gritty, scrappy, hard-working, tenacious, dirty and intense on the field; but he was philanthropic, caring and sensitive off the field. He represented so much about what made the Red Sox so likable to so many fans during the mid-2000s, and his departure much like Theo Epstein’s, Jason Varitek’s and Tito Francona’s this off-season, signifies the loss of almost the final tangible reminder of those great times, and represents all but the end of an era.

 

It had been widely speculated for weeks now that Youkilis’ days with the Red Sox were all but over. It became so inevitable that during today’s game the Fenway Faithful gave him a touching and emotional standing ovation before his first at bat in what would untimely indeed end up being his last game as a Red Sox. If we know one thing about his future, it is that Kevin Youkilis will forever be loved by Red Sox Nation, and we were pleasantly reminded of that today.

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By Nick DiBattista

It’s been said that if you have a heartbeat and throw left-handed, a major league roster spot will find its way to you.  Former starter (and temporary closer) Franklin Morales finds himself out of the wicked confines of Coors Field and in the thick of the Red Sox bullpen this spring, mainly as their lefty specialist.

Franklin Morales!

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If first round draft selection were an indication of future performance, the Red Sox wouldn’t be former 6th overall selection Andrew Miller’s third team.

 

"Strike Machine" Andrew Miller...

The Backstory: Andrew Miller was drafted by the Tigers 6th overall and given a guaranteed $6.45 million deal.  Not even a month into that deal, Miller made his major league debut against the Yankees.  Miller never showed any consistency in Detroit, who traded him to Florida for Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera.  Almost 3 full (and equally ineffective) years later, Miller was traded again—this time to the Sox for reliever Dustin Richardson.

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Today we are taking a look at the proud owner of the longest last name in baseball history.

Salty!

The Backstory: Salty was taken in the first round of the 2003 draft by the Atlanta Braves. In 2007, on his 22nd birthday, he made his major league debut.  However, because he was blocked by All Star catcher Brian McCann, the Braves viewed Salty as expendable and he was included as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Mark Teixeira to Atlanta. Continue reading »

Many moons ago, Lou Punto was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. One could say he never made an impact on the big league team, but if you ask the Red Sox new super utility man, he might beg to differ. Nick Punto, today’s player profile, was raised by the former Red Sox draft pick to be a baseball player.

Nick Punto!

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Today I’ll be talking about quite possibly the greatest player to ever play the game of baseball, Darnell McDonald, or as he likes to go by “MacDime”. He is likely to make the Red Sox 25 man roster as an outfielder who mashes lefties. Will he get major playing time in 2012 due to Crawford’s inability to hit lefties better than Mario Mendoza? Read on for the scoop on DMac’s prospects for the 2012 season.

Darnell McDonald

#MacDime

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Ryan's swinging the bat now, but will he be in the lineup come Opening Day?

I’d like to introduce all of you to new outfielder Ryan Sweeney.  Ryan throws and bats lefty, and is new to the Sox in 2012, coming over from Oakland with closer Andrew Bailey on December 28th.  Sox outfielder Josh Reddick departed in that trade, and Ryan’s expected to fill his role on the squad this year, and playing all three outfield positions and work into a platoon with other newcomer Cody Ross in right field.  Sweeney is entering his age 27 season with the Red Sox, who have him under team control until the end of the 2013 season.   Read on to see what we can expect from Ryan in 2012.

Ryan's swinging the bat now, but will he be in the lineup come Opening Day?

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