With this season becoming a lost cause now is the time to look to the future. The one spot that has been looked at since 2005 is shortstop. Ever since the Nomar trade everyone has wondered when we will get another quality shortstop. After Nomar the likes of Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, Alex Cora, Alex Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Yamaico Navarro, Mike Aviles, Jose Igelsias, Pedro Ciriaco, Nick Punto, and others whose names aren’t coming to mind at the moment. Now you look at that list and are you impressed? Probably not. The Red Sox have been unable to develop or acquire a quality shortstop after they traded away the greatest shortstop in team history. No answers have been present over the past eight years, but the answer may come soon. Here’s a look at some guys who could be the next great Red Sox shortstop.
Mike Aviles: Aviles has been with the Red Sox since last season’s trade deadline and proven to be a fairly mediocre shortstop. So why is considered part the future? The answer is simple, he’s still young and has a lot to learn. He has decent power and if he becomes more disciplined hitter he could raise his OBP to one that is considered adequate for a shortstop. Now I don’t truly believe that Aviles is the answer, but you never know.
Pedro Ciriaco: He’s a long shot at best, but like I said with Aviles you never know. Ciriaco has been a bright spot in this tough season, but I don’t see him as an everyday player. He’s fast, he can hit, he plays solid defense but I don’t think he can pull it all together and become one of the top shortstops in the league. His biggest issue is his pitch recognition. He’ll swing at just about anything with one or two strikes on him and teams are starting to notice. If he doesn’t get a fastball to hit, odds are he’s striking out. Another issue is he treats every play like Usain Bolt is running down the line. Everything he does seems rushed and it hurts him sometimes. With all that said, he could magically reinvent himself into a disciplined player, but I doubt it.
Jose Iglesias: Iglesias was said to be the future of this team. Not just the next shortstop, but the next face of the franchise. He’s always just needed to learn to hit and then he’d be ready. The problem is he hasn’t learned yet. Could he become a perennial gold glove winner by next year? Yes. But can hit above .200 has an everyday player? I have my doubts. In 18 major league at bats he’s recorded just 2 hits. Now some would say he just needs to adapt to big league pitching, but if you look at his minor league numbers you wouldn’t be surprised by his major league struggles. In three minor league seasons his posted a slash line of .264/..313/.314 two homers and just thirty-nine extra base hits. That isn’t impressive at all. Without being able to put it together at the plate in the minors, what makes anyone think he can do it in the majors. I have no faith in Igelsias and I believe that it is warranted.
Xander Bogaerts: Widely considered to be the Sox top hitting prospect, Bogaerts figures to be an ideal candidate for the shortstop of the future. He’s just 19 years old, but he’s already tearing the cover off the ball in AA. In his three minor league seasons he has a slash line of .295/.366/.495 with 39 homers and 168 RBI. Those numbers are very good, but they don’t truly reflect Bogaerts. He struggled last year, but has bounced back in a huge way this year. He’s become a much more disciplined hitter this year and it has shown in his numbers. Despite moving up in the minors his numbers have improved which speaks volumes about his adaptability. The only issue with him being the shortstop of the future is that he’s said to have to big of a body for shortstop. He may be better suited to play third base or even left field according to some scouts. Overall I really like Bogaerts, but he might not work out as a shortstop.
Devin Marrero: Marreo was the Sox first round draft choice this year and could become the great shortstop for the Red Sox. He was just drafted so there isn’t much to go on as far as numbers go besides his college numbers, which probably don’t translate well. Over his three college seasons his numbers steadily got worse which is scary. He also has very little power, he had just 10 homers in college, and his fielding isn’t the greatest either. These concern me as well. The good thing is that with the right coaching he could fix theses flaws. Another good thing is that he can hit. He projects as a Dustin Pedroia kind of hitter which isn’t bad at all, but he isn’t expected quite as good as Pedroia. Pedroia has more power and is an all around better hitter. Marrero is a project, but it could be worthwhile in the end.
Elvis Andrus: This might seem crazy and it probably is, but I like it. Today, the Rangers called up their top prospect Jurickson Profar. He is the future shortstop of the Rangers, but where does that leave their current shortstop, Elvis Andrus. He’s an All Star with two more years of team control, but he’s being pushed out. He’s become expendable, so that’s where the Sox come in. He’s a dynamic player who brings quality defense, speed, and the ability to get on base. With a career .346 OBP we know he can get on base. With three 30+ stolen base seasons we know he can run. He’s the kind of guy this team needs. There guys in the Sox lineup who can drive in runs, so a guy who can get on base is a huge plus. He may have little to no power, but if he can score runs it’ll make up for that. If your still not sold on this move, here’s something that may get you on board. As I said earlier, he has two years remaining of team control. Now you may think this is irrelevant, but Xander Bogaerts will be ready in 2014. Now after one year of Andrus he can be traded away for around what we gave up for him, or he can be used as an insurance policy for Bogaerts, if he’s not quite ready for the big leagues in 2014. Either way I really like the idea of the Sox getting Andrus, and I believe that it’s something Ben should seriously look into this offseason if he wants to continue to be bold.
Now none of these may be the answer, but eventually they’ll have to be someone who can be a great for the Sox once again.
It’s no secret that the Red Sox bullpen has been bad. They need some type of quick fix to save the pen. As promised here’s my list of guys who can help save the bullpen by the end of May.
Huston Street RHP-SDP: I mentioned Street in my article yesterday. He’s currently the closer for the San Diego Padres. He doesn’t appear to be a trade candidate, because they just traded for him, but I’ve heard that they only got him to spin him off to another team, when his value got higher, for more. At this point the Sox may be reluctant to add a pricey closer, but at the same time you look at the problems with the bullpen you have to expand what you call too expensive. He can save the pen by bringing his closer experience along with some leadership. With a win-loss record of 30-21 with 179 saves and a career ERA of 3.09 he’s proven to be a quality arm over the past 8 years.
Jeff Gray RHP-MIN: Gray isn’t a name known by many and perhaps that benefits the Sox. Gray is a reliever for the Twins currently and has played for 5 different teams in his 4 year career. He hasn’t had too many chances to prove himself, but he ended last year strong and has started off this where he left off. The Twins don’t appear to be contenders this year and the asking price for Gray would likely be low and they might be able to get a quick and painless deal done.
Brandon Leauge RHP-SEA: Last year League established himself as an elite closer. Their Mariners were thrilled with his ability to step into the closer role in their time of need, but as a rebuilding team they entertained the idea of trading him this offseason. Hopefully the market for League is still open. It’s highly unlikely they’ll deal their closer within the first two months of the season, but everyone has their price. He’d be very valuable to the Sox, because of his AL East experience and his closer experience as well.
John Lannan LHP-WSH(AAA): Lannan’s situation in Washington is getting worse and worse and he wants out. Yes, Lannan is a starter, but he gives the Red Sox the option to send Bard back to bullpen which would obviously help the pen. Lannan would add a third lefty to the rotation which isn’t a bad thing, but it could lead to some match up problems with right-handed heavy lineups. I like the idea of adding Lannan, but I like the idea of putting Bard back into the pen a lot more.
Juan Carlos Oviedo RHP-MIA: I know the Red Sox don’t want another troubled reliever (Bobby Jenks) but Oviedo was pretty special when he was Leo Nunez. The Marlins considered non-tendering him in the winter, so we know they’ll be willing to part with him. Oviedo can still close games and a deal could be made.
Roberto Hernandez RHP-CLE: He’s a cross between Oviedo and Lannan a troubled starter. Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Hernandez has had an up and down career. The Sox did make a push for him at the deadline and can rekindle talks at a lower price. He also gives them the option to move Bard back into the pen and he could pitch pretty well in the rotation. If the price is right the Sox can’t pass up this oppertunity.
Junichi Tazawa RHP-BOS: I know he’s already part of the pen, but he hasn’t pitched yet, so he’s still got a clean slate. In 2009 he was able to showcase his ability and he had some pretty good stuff. He was fantastic in his short stay. I saw his start against the Yankees and that’s when I was sold that he was going to be good. Lately he’s been sidelined with injuries, but now he has his chance to establish himself as a big leaguer.
Brandon Duckworth RHP-BOS (AAA): Duckworth is currently a righty pitching for the PawSox. He has some major league experience, and he could end up being a quality reliever in the pen. Key word is could though.
Clayton Mortenson RHP-BOS (AAA): We dealt Marco Scutaro for him so the former starter turned reliever can have an impact on this team. He’s not always dominate, so he might not be a quick fix, but he has potential and I can only hope he’ll live up to it.
This list isn’t really a star-studded list, but that’s not the point of it. These are guys who can be acquired (or called up) and have an impact. There are other guys out there, but I complied this list based off of a little research and my own personal knowledge. Feel free to add names or pick apart this list. If you want, send me a tweet @thebestsoxblog (or at least follow me). Personally I like all of these guys, some more than others, and I’d be thrilled in the Sox got any of the 6 not on the team.
As I watch Jason Varitek retire it inspired me to get back to writing on my blog. Also as the month turns over it seems like a good time to an offseason review, so here it goes:
Subtractions:Jonathan Papelbon, J.D. Drew, Jed Lowrie, Hideki Okajima, Josh Reddick, Marco Scutaro, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Kyle Weiland, and Dan Wheeler
The biggest loss was Jonathan Papelbon. He was force at the back of the pen, but when your biggest loss is you’ve had a good offseason in terms of losing guys. Lowrie and Scutaro hurt the Sox infield depth, but with three guys (Punto, Aviles, Iglesias) who can handle any position in the infield They should be fine. Drew, Reddick, and Wheeler won’t hurt at all considering they found better players to replace them. Kyle Weiland might be a huge loss or nothing at all, we have to wait and see. It’s sad to see Wakefield and Varitek go, but they weren’t going to be key players this so they aren’t huge losses at all. All in all this list could be much worse.
Andrew Bailey, Chris Carpenter, Aaron Cook, Mark Melancon, Clayton Mortensen, Ross Ohlendorf, Vincente Padilla, Nick Punto, Cody Ross, Kelly Shoppach, Carlos Silva, and Ryan Sweeney
I like who the Sox added this year. Bailey, Carpenter, Melancon, and maybe Mortensen will provide much needed help help in a weakened pen. Sweeney and Cody Ross will platoon in right. Punto will provide nice infield depth, or maybe even become the starting shortstop. Cook, Ohlendorf, Padilla, and Silva will all compete for a shot at the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. Shoppach will be an alright backup to Saltalamacchia. Like I said before I like this group. A lot of them are hit or miss guys, but they can end up being key players down the stretch.
I’d give this offseason a B. They didn’t lose any real key players, and filled the necessary holes with good enough players, but nothing spectacular. Although none of the additions are sure things they could become huge players or huge failures. All in all nothing great, but nothing bad.
Today the Red Sox traded Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies for RHP Clayton Mortensen. This is a complete salary dump as the Sox search for more pitching. Mortensen has been a failed prospect as the former first rounder hasn’t been effective since he was in AA. I don’t see him making the big league roster unless he has an amazing spring.
As for Scutaro’s replacement, Nick Punto, Mike Aviles, and Jose Iglesias are the options for the Sox. Don’t expect much from offense from the SS position this year unless another move is made.
I know this is late, but it’s been tough to write lately. Anyways, yesterday was the deadline for teams to accept or decline player options. The Red Sox had to make three decisions on their options. Marco Scutaro, Scott Atchison, and Dan Wheeler’s statuses were up in the air. The Sox made the decision to keep Scutaro and let Atchison and Wheeler go. It was the right move to make because Scutaro was very productive player in his two years here and Wheeler and Atchison had seasons to forget. Hopefully they’ll find work somewhere, which they probably will considering they still have something left to offer to a big league club.
I’m a bit puzzled by the Red Sox moves at the deadline. They acquired Mike Aviles, Erik Bedard, and Josh Fields. Bedard is the only one I see having any impact this year. He’ll start until Buchholz is healthy, and then I don’t know what the Sox will do with him then. He might keep his spot in the rotation if he pitches better than Tim Wakefield, but if that’s not the case there isn’t really much room for him on the roster except as a possible second lefty out of the bullpen.
Fields is said to be just a throw in so is impact, if any, will be minimal. He can play both corner outfield positions and both corner infield positions, so he may be of some value to the Sox.
Aviles is the most perplexing move. To give away too players with tremendous upside for a utility infielder seems a bit strange. The only possible move I see for Aviles with the Sox is potentially competing for the starting shortstops job next year with Jed Lowrie and possible Marco Scutaro. Aviles has proven he can be an effective starter at the big league level, so that may of been Theo’s thinking as he made that deal.