Tuesday, January 29, 2013

RSM Red Sox Prospects 26-50

Last fall we at RSM began the post season ranking of the Red Sox prospects with numbers 1 thru 25.  To recap this is the Top 25:

1. Xander Bogaerts, SS
2. Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF
3. Matt Barnes, RHP
4. Allen Webster, RHP
5. Bryce Brentz, OF
6. Ryan Lavarnway, C
7. Henry Owens, LHP
8. Blake Swihart, C
9. Garin Cecchini, 3B
10. Jose Iglesias, SS
11. Brandon Workman, RHP
12. Devin Marrero, SS
13. Brandon Jacobs, OF
14. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
15. Stolmy Pimental, RHP ** ( since traded to Pittsburgh)
16. Drake Britton, LHP
17. Travis Shaw, 1B
18. Alex Wilson, RHP
19. Brian Johnson, LHP
20. Pat Light, RHP
21. Ty Buttrey, RHP
22. Chris Hernandez, LHP
23. Christian Vazquez, C
24. Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF
25. Sean Coyle, 2B

Here are now brief recaps of numbers 26-40.

26. Steven Wright, RHKP( K for knuckleball)-  this may be the name on this entire list with the widest range of possible career outcomes.  A 28 year old knuckleballer who was obtained from Cleveland for Lars Anderson.  He is a guy who may never reach the big leagues or he could be in the Red Sox rotation for the next 15 years.  Most scouts compare his knuckler more to R.A. Dickey's than Tim Wakefield's because Wright throws it harder as does Dickey. But, having access to Wake in the organization can only help, as the Niekro brothers helped mentor Wakefield.  He is slated to begin 2013 where he finished last year, in Pawtucket.  He is a guy to watch carefully as he could be rotation depth for the big club, and he may soar up our rankings next April or May.

27. Keury de la Cruz, OF-  21 year old Dominican did not get a mention in our in season monthly rankings, but he had a breakout season at low A Greenville ( with a brief Salem appearance at year's end). He hit 20 homers and knocked in 87, with a BA of .308.  He should start next year at Salem, and another year matching 2012 will solidify his rising prospect status.

28. Jose Vinicio, SS -another international free agent ( 2009) from the Dominican, and another of 5 shortstops on this list.  He is known as a plus defender with good speed, 24 steals at Greenville in 2012, who must fill out physically to improve his offense.

29. Manuel Margot, OF- The most likely to jump from this ranking into the Top 10 next year. The 18 year old tore though the Dominican Summer League with a line of 4-45-.285-.382, with 10 doubles, 7 triples, and 33 SB's.  He could be set to make a Bogaerts-like arrival in the States in 2013.

30. Kolbrin Vitek, 3B - He crashed from top 12 ranking to begin 2012 to here based on an injury plagued, disappointing 2012 at Hadlock Field.  The 2010 first round pick had a solid 2011 at Salem, but will likely repeat AA to start 2013.  The college 2nd baseman has played third for the Sox system, many scouts think he will eventually be a corner OF.  2013 could be a make or break year.

31. Cody Kukuk, LHP- 19 year old who was 2011 7th round draft pick. The 6'4" lefty throws in the low/mid 90's and many scouts project him as a mid rotation MLB starter.  He only pitched 10 innings in the GCL last year due to some disciplinary issues.  Look for him to pitch in Lowell next June.

32. Frank Montas, RHP- another 19 year old signed 3 years ago from the DR, he lights up the radar guns at 96 to 100 mph.  A big time flame throwing closer is his long term projection.

33. Tze-Wei Lin, SS-  He was signed late last summer from Taiwan.  This lefty batter has plus speed and is a plus defender, needs to develop his offensive game.

34. Alex Hassan, OF- This 20th round pick in the 2009 draft is not highly ranked by lots of scouts, but he played all of 2012 at AAA,  3 years after being drafted and he has one major skill: he gets on base, .377 OBP at Pawtucket.  The question is can he force his way into the OF picture with Bradley, Brentz, etc.?

35. Dan Butler, C - He was not even drafted coming out of Arizona, but signed with Boston as what people thought was organizational filler, but he has quickly rose to the AAA level. His offense has been so so but he has a plus arm and is a good defender.

36. Miguel " Mickey" Pena. LHP- The 6th round 2011 draftee had a solid 2012 at Greenville with 8 wins and an ERA of 2.95.

37. Noe Ramirez, RHP - Another 2011 draftee ( 4th round), he also spent 2012 at Greenville.  the 23 year old had a W/L record of 2-7 with a 4.15 ERA but he struck out 8.72 men per 9 innings.

38. Michael Almanzar, 3B- The Sox signed him with much fanfare as a 16 year old in 2007 from the Dominican and he had done basically nothing until 2012 at Salem. He had his first solid season of 12-54-.300-.353.  He also began seeing time at first as well as third.  He should be Portland Sea Dog in 2013 in an attempt to continue to salvage his chances at a big league career.

39. Austin Maddox, RHP- Maddox was a third round pick in last June's draft from the Univ. of Florida, where he was their closer.  His fastball clocks up to 96, he threw only 10 innings in the Sox system last year.

40. Juan Carlos Linares, OF - this 28 year old who signed as a Cuban free agent in 2010 has put up strong numbers but due to injuries and roster crunches has not had a chance to advance from Portland and Pawtucket ( where he hit 8 homers in each locale in 2012).  He is almost too old to be considered a prospect anymore and with the Sox all ready overloaded with right handed bats, JC may not get a chance in Beantown.

Here is a list of prospects 41-50

41.Brock Huntzinger, RHP
42. Jamie Callahan, RHP
43.Simon Mercedes, RHP
44. Aaron Kurcz, RHP ( part of the Theo compensation)
45. Kendrick Perkins, OF
46.Williams Jerez, OF
47. Mookie Betts, INF
48. Miguel Celestino, RHP
49. Justin Haley. RHP
50. David Chester, 1B

This puts a wrap on the 2012 rankings, near the end of spring training( which will begin in less than 2 weeks!!) we will have a preseason 2013 listing.  We welcome any comments or questions about these rankings.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Red Sox Starting Lineup

There is so much to be worked out between now and opening day.  There will be injuries, trades, ineffectiveness and visa problems (can we make sure that Alfredo Aceves has visa problems? p.s. I'm going to go into hiding after this is published).  But, if opening day were today what would the starting lineup look like?  We here at redsoxmaineiacs are obsessed with lineups.   So here it goes...

The opponent's opening day starter will likely be C.C. Sabathia (I wish this was an April Fool's joke) so here's John Farrell's first Red Sox lineup card:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Jonny Gomes LF
David Ross C
Stephen Drew SS

Jon Lester SP

Opening day may prevent Farrell from putting out his usual lineup vs. left handed hitters.  I think David Ross will play against most left handed SP's assuming that he's platooning with Salty.  If he's platooning with Lavarnway then he may play more against tough righties.  Although, I don't see the catching being a strict left/right platoon.

Barring injury, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz, Napoli, Middlebrooks and Victorino are definitely going to be in the lineup.  Becuase Sabathia is pitching I think Gomes is a shoo-in.  The only real question marks are Catcher and SS.  Drew probably has a 75% chance of starting, but I still give Jose Iglesias a 25% shot at being the opening day SS.

That leaves catcher and my gut is telling me that Salty is not going to be on the opening day roster.  I'm confident that Lavarnway is going to have a great spring training and prove that his offensive slump of a year ago was just a fluke.  If that does happen I don't think Salty makes the team, but as of right now he is on the team and has to be considered the starter going into spring training so he's in the line up.  I give the three catchers an equal shot at starting on opening day.  Salty 33.3%, Lavarnway 33.3% and Ross 33.3%, so pull a name out of a hat for that spot.  One last thing that may give Ross the nod on Opening Day is the fact that he was likely brought in here to mentor Lester and Buchholz just as much as he was Lavarnway, so I could se him working with Lester and Buchholz a lot.  You just witnessed me changing my mind in the course of a paragraph.  I'm going to switch Ross to the starting catcher spot instead of Salty.

Now the order is a totally different animal.  I feel pretty confident in my top 3, but I'm not sure where to put Big Papi vs. a tough lefty in Sabathia.  The way that he hit lefties last year and assuming he is healthy he is your clean up hitter vs. lefties for now.  Then you have 3 pretty good righties in a row with Napoli, Middlebrooks and Gomes.  Salty is not a great right-handed hitter and we covered the catching situation above.  Drew is your second lead off hitter in the number nine hole.  Drew may very well move to the top of the line up or middle of the lineup vs. right-handed SP's.  

I know that lineup speculation can be a waste of time and energy because the team has yet to hit the field, but it is a fun way to pass the time until spring training.  Let's hear your thoughts on the opening day lineup in the comments section.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Miss Terry Francona

This week's excerpts from Terry Francona's book with Dan Shaugnessy reminded me of just how good we had it as Red Sox fans from 2004-2011.  Bobby Valentine helped to cement that idea in 2012.  It was clear to me a couple of weeks into the 2012 season that the Red Sox should have rehired Terry Francona.  Listen, I am not naive enough to believe that there isn't two sides to every story and Tito's book is certainly going to tell us his side of the story, but I will also take him at his word that we should read the book cover to cover before we judge how he portrayed the owners.  With that being said the first excerpt to come out from the book certainly confirms the thoughts that most Red Sox fans have about our owners.

Our owners are running a business.  That by itself is not a crime or even bad ownership.  We want them to make as much revenue as possible so long as they put money into the team, which they have always done.  The major mistake of this ownership group is that they allowed the business side of their job get intertwined with the baseball operations department.  This must be what Theo Epstein always referred to as "the Monster".  Theo's quotes in the book confirm this.  This also must be what Ben Cherington meant when he said that the Red Sox became undisciplined with their decision making.  They got seduced by "sexy" players and lost their discipline.  They got seduced by TV ratings and marketing research and that has nothing to do with winning baseball games.  The ownership group should have taken a page out of Robert Kraft's book and let the people in their organization that were responsible for building a baseball team do their job.  When Kraft hired Bill Belichick he stayed out of his way.  Belichick produced a winner and then the team become popular with fans and television audiences.

This is what Henry and Co. need to do.  Stay out of Ben Cherington and the baseball operations departments way for three years and let them build a winner.  If they haven't done that after three years then fire them and hire someone that can build you a winner.  They need to take their "organizaational meetings" and market research and stick it up their soccer team.

Other Red Sox news:

  • Jon Heyman of CBS sports is reporting that the Red Sox and Mike Napoli are making progress and should have an agreement by sometime next week.  (After Martin Luther King Day)
  • The Portland Sea Dogs have re-upped their agreement with the Sox through 2018
  • Vicente Padilla is heading to Japan (not sure if there's any truth to the rumor that he's going there to fight samurai warriors with his machete)
  • Nine Red Sox players filed for arbitration (basically non news, they'll all agree to terms prior to arbitration and be on the Red Sox this year)
  • The Red Sox still should be in the market for a LH hitting 1B/OF and SP depth

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Red Sox January Free Agent Steals

January marks the start of the NFL playoffs and the death of the baseball hot stove season (at least in terms of media coverage).  January also marks the start of the really cold weather in the Northeast, which has this maineiac still burning the Red Sox hot stove fire.

Last January Ben Cherington made perhaps his best signing yet as general manager by signing Cody Ross to a one year 3 million dollar deal.  If we go back to last offseason we will remember that the Red Sox were not players in the early market for some of the top players and they had to try and find good deals late in free agency to fill out there roster.  This year, thanks the the trade with the LA Dodgers, the Sox were major players early in free agency by adding 7 free agents: David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Ryan Dempster and Stephen Drew.   Then they were able to add Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt through a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  So the roster is currently full and the team is not in a position of need right now, but there are good deals out there still to be had.

Before we can talk about adding any potential players to the team we should mention the fact that the 40 man roster is pretty full.  It is at 40 right now with Mike Napoli still waiting on deck (catcher Dan Butler is walking the plank as we speak).  So anyone that signs between now and spring training will probably have to be willing to accept a minor league deal and a spring training invite, or the Red Sox could still free up some roster space by trading some of their catching or bullpen depth for prospects.  The potential for space on the 40 man roster still exist even without a trade.  Players like Drake Britton and Alex Hassan could still be DFA'd to create some room if the right person is signed.

Now that we know the make up of the roster and the landscape of the offseason let's take a look at the top remaining free agents courtesy of mlb.com there are somewhere around 200 or so remaining free agent so we can't list them all here, so go ahead and click on the link and take a look at who is left out there.  Here is a look at who I see as the top 10 remaining players:

  1. Michael Bourn-OF
  2. Rafael Soriano-RP
  3. Kyle Lohse-SP
  4. Adam LaRoche-1B
  5. Jose Valverde-RP
  6. Delmon Young-OF/DH
  7. Travis Hafner-DH
  8. Aubrey Huff-1B/OF/DH
  9. Shaun Marcum-SP
  10. Carlos Zambrano-SP
The Maineiacs have been on the Lance Berkman bandwagon for the last month or so, but it appears that geography was too much to overcome as the Texan is rumored to be signing with the Texas Rangers.  So I left him off the list (I also left Mike Napoli off the list).  With Berkman being out of the picture we are left to turn the page to look for other left hand hitting 1B/OF types.  #8 Aubrey Huff would fit that profile, but I'm not sure he'd be looking for a back up/part-time role.  If he goes unsigned much longer than perhaps he would be willing to accept a minor league deal with a spring training invite.  So Huff tops the list of top 10 potential steals still remaining on the free agent market:
  1. Aubrey Huff-1B
  2. Grady Sizemore-OF
  3. Mark Lowe-RP
  4. Nick Johnson-1B
  5. Jair Jurrjens-SP
  6. Chone Figgins-UTL
  7. Mark DeRosa-UTL
  8. Jason Bartlett-SS 
  9. Francisco Liriano-SP
  10. Kevin Gregg-RP (just kidding, he would be signed as a punching bag for Big Papi)
There are a ton of relief pitchers still on the market which the Red Sox do not need, but you can never have enough arms.  There are a few potential starting pitchers out there who could be used as depth and there are some shortstops and left hand hitting 1B/OF types who could compete for a spot on the bench and provide some insurance in case of injury.  

Who would you like to bring to spring training out of these remaining players??   

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

13 Red Sox Predictions for 2013

Happy New Year Red Sox fans! Here's to hoping that this year is much better than the last.  With the calendar turning to January it's not too soon to start thinking about late February and the start of pitchers and catchers workouts in Fort Myers.  The roster is close to being complete and it is certainly possible that they go into spring training with the roster as it is right now, assuming that Mike Napoli gets signed.  If he doesn't get signed then there could be another flurry of moves to fill the first base position.      With that being said even if the Napoli deal does get finished I'm sure that Ben Cherington and his staff will be on the lookout for any good value deals that surface for the Red Sox.

On the Napoli front...I don't for a second buy the "reports" that have other teams showing interests in Mike Napoli or the "reports" that the Red Sox have interests in Adam LaRoche.  The Red Sox will not sign Adam LaRoche.  I also don't buy any of the reports that will have us believe that the Red Sox are looking at Bobby Abreu as a possible first baseman.  They may be interested in Abreu, but not as a replacement for Napoli.  At 39 years old (at least) Abreu is no longer an every day player.  If they are unable to finish the Napoli deal than they will look to fill their 1B need through trade or through other spare parts on the free agent market, like Lance Berkman, if he can be convinced to come back for one more year.  With the promise of a starting job on a contending team and money of course, I think that Berkman could be convinced to avoid retirement and a job on the Rice University coaching staff.  Oddly enough, as more days go by the more likely I think it is that Napoli isn't going anywhere else but Boston.  My Prediction that it would be done by Christmas was wrong and New Year's Day has all but come and gone.  Now I'm certain that it will get finalized by...

Martin Luther King Jr. Day?!    Anyway on to the predictions...

  1. The 2013 Red Sox will NOT win the World Series 
  2. The Red Sox will finish the season as one of the hottest teams in MLB.  With all the new pieces it will take a while for this team to come together but when they finally do they will be very good.
  3. The Red Sox will win 91 games in the regular season thanks to a 20-7 run in September.
  4. Someone signed between now and the start of spring training will have a MAJOR impact on the team this season. 
  5. With expectations being lowered because of the last two years of performance, Jon Lester will remind all of us that he has the ability to be an ace. Put him down for 15+ victories and a sub 4.00 era (I know those aren't ace like numbers, but hey it's a start)
  6. John Lackey will stop talking to the media by Patriots Day
  7. John Farrell will not ban beer from the clubhouse
  8. This time next year we'll still be saying that the Yankees are old, which will be true just as it is now, the problem is that we expect them to be worse than the Red Sox because of their age while forgetting that they have CC Sabathia.  The Yankees will finish ahead of the Red Sox in the standings...  
  9. The Orioles and Blue Jays will not...
  10. The Red Sox will finished tied for the second wild card spot in the AL with the Cleveland Indians...
  11. John Farrell's Red Sox will beat Tito Francona's team in a one game playoff... 
  12. The Red Sox will then win the one game wild card playoff vs the Tampa Bay Rays...
  13. With a decimated pitching staff the Red Sox will lose to the Anaheim Angels in the ALDS.
Wow! Someone must still have a New Year's hang over.  Maybe it's wishful thinking, maybe it's too much champagne or maybe it's the offseason and everyone thinks there team is going to make the playoffs because they haven't played a game yet.  Either way here's to more of these in 2013...

Either way let us know what you think and make some of your own predictions for the 2013 Red Sox in the comments section.