It’s been a long while since I’ve last updated this blog, but in this snowstorm I figured I might as well write something again. With players starting to show up in Fort Myers it’s time to start talking about the players in camp, and the players that are the most fun to talk about are the ones almost no one has ever heard of. The most interesting of that group of nobodies has to be righty Steven Wright. Wright was acquired at the trade deadline last year from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for former top prospect Lars Anderson. Wright sounds like any other run of the mill prospect being brought into camp, but he has something that makes him very special, the knuckleball. Although he’s never pitched a major league game in his life (and only 5 in AAA) John Farrell said he has a chance to make an impact in the majors this year. Whether or not that means making the opening day roster or even being in the rotation remains to be seen. Regardless, he’s a very interesting case. He could be the next Tim Wakefield or the he could end up being the next Charlie Zink, which is what makes him so interesting Will he be great or will he fall into oblivion without anyone noticing? Odds are it’ll be the latter, but I’m hoping the Sox will get another knuckleballer in the rotation. This year it’ll be tough for him to fit in with the rotation looking set with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey, and Ryan Dempster, and even if one those 5 get injured he wouldn’t be the first option with Franklin Morales and Rubby De La Rosa waiting for their shot in the rotation. Even though it’s a long shot how he performs this spring could have him leapfrog over both Morales and De La Rosa and give himself a very good shot to get sometime in the big leagues this year. Despite everything I’ve said though he most likely needs more time in AAA with, like I said earlier, just 5 games there with only 4 of them as starts. Hopefully sometime this year he’ll get his shot, but for now all we can do is watch him this spring.
Yesterday the Red Sox recalled Aaron Cook, Jose Iglesias, and Will Middlebrooks from AAA. They also optioned Junichi Tazawa and Lars Anderson to AAA and placed Kevin Youkilis on the DL. Will Middlebrooks is expected to play third base in the absence of Youk. If you don’t already know, Middlebrooks is the top prospect in the Sox’s farm system. He was tearing up AAA pitching is April and many fans have been hoping to see him called up. Although he’s only expected to stay until Youk is reinstated from the DL, but there’s reason to believe he might over stay his welcome.
Will Middlebrooks is a near complete hitter. He can hit to all fields, but has a lot more power to his pull field. He also tends to expand the strike zone and chase pitches, especially fastballs up. Yesterday, in his debut, he was able to show patience by drawing a walk so he might be more patient at the big league level when he knows he’s not going to be able to handle all of those pitches.
If Middlebrooks can consistently play like he did last night (2 for 3 with a walk) he could find himself staying on the big league roster for a long time. He could end up being very valuable in keeping Youk healthy by having a trusted bat slid into the lineup when Youk is taking an off day which will be frequent. Although Middlebrooks is over hyped, he does has the skill to develop into the player that many project he will be one day. He’s a reason now to get excited even if his first stay isn’t for long.
Most Red Sox fans, myself included, are saddened by Theo Epstein‘s looming departure, but it does have some positives. Theo has made some great moves throughout his career. He made fantastic trades and found some great under valued players. But in recent years he’s slipped up on one thing. He has read the free agent market terribly. He has also taken advantage of John Henry’s wallet by overspending on just about everyone of the free agents he’s picked up. He just struggles with making an adequate contract offer that meets both sides needs. He’s always gone way over the top for veterans services. He should know that their near decline, and if they want more years than their bodies are going to give them than just stay away. Theo was never able to stay away. He was so overly aggressive that it hurt the Sox rather than helped them. The only time he’s backed off a contract for health is with Jason Bay, and it proved to be an excellent idea. Didn’t anybody learn from that, or is everyone still upset we lost a guy whose hit .251 the past two years? The Mets are just as upset as we are with the contracts of Carl Crawford, John Lackey, J.D. Drew, and Mike Cameron. If Theo takes this approach in Chicago, the Cubs will be buried in debt due to terrible contracts. Another problem I’ve had with Theo is his protection of the farm system. Guys like Lars Anderson whose value was sky high a few years ago and the Sox had no use for him, but Theo had some sort of plan for him. Now he’s not even worth an unhealthy Rich Harden. Years ago he could of been used as guy in a Adrian Gonzalez type trade, but now that will never happen, except as a throw in. I’m not saying toss away all homegrown guys, because that would be insanity, but guys who aren’t going to serve a purpose when their value is at his highest needs to be moved if the right deal is made. Another good example is Josh Reddick. Right now, other teams are admiring the fantastic job he’s done this year, but he still wasn’t the most consistent guy. The Sox can sell high with him, because they have a plethora of internal and external options in the outfield. Hopefully, Cherrington will realize everything Theo did wrong and do them right.
The Red Sox are close to acquiring A’s starting pitcher Rich Harden for first baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. This deal is pending a physical due to Harden’s poor health. If Harden’s able to stay healthy this is a great pick up for the Sox.