Taking A Crack At The 25 Man Roster

With only sixteen days left before the Sox open their season in Detroit, manager Bobby Valentine is preparing to make his second round of cuts and iron out the final plans for the starting rotation and the bullpen. With that in mind, I thought I’d take my best educated guess on what the Sox’ 25-man Opening Day roster will be.

Catchers –

1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Salty is going to be close to the everyday backstop for this club. There’s a lot of things he can improve on after last season, but hopefully the responsibility of being the everyday starter will effect his offensive production in a positive way.

2. Kelly Shoppach – Ryan Lavarnway is going to get his chance at the major league level, but it won’t be in the first month of the season. Shoppach has the experience, and with Valentine’s crusade to throw more runners out, Shoppach is his man.


3. Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzo claims he hasn’t been fully healthy the last two seasons. Considering the numbers he put up last year, that’s a scary thought for the rest of the American League.

4. Dustin Pedroia- What more can you say?

5. Mike Aviles- He’s going to be the everyday shortstop. He hasn’t started in another position all of Spring Training, even with the whispers that he may get some time in the outfield. Like Ryan Lavarnway, Jose Iglesias will have his time, but he’s going to have to wait for at least a few more months.

6. Kevin Youkilis- Youk’s advanced defensive metrics showed that he wasn’t that bad of a third baseman last year. The naked eye would tell you otherwise. He definitely looked shaky at times, but I’ll take that shaky defense all season if he can just stay healthy, his bat is what’s valuable.

7. Nick Punto- He’ll be the backup… well pretty much the backup everything. Don’t be surprised to see him get more playing time than you’d expect from a utility man, Valentine loves these type of players.


8. Jacoby Ellsbury – Probably should have won the MVP award last year. It will be interesting to see just how much he regresses, especially with free agency looming two summers down the road.

9. Cody Ross- He’s going to surprise a lot of people. He’s seeing the ball well in Spring Training, and the Green Monster will only help his offense.

10. Ryan Sweeney- He’s on track to start in left field on Opening Day with Carl Crawford headed for the disabled list. Don’t expect much from his bat, but his defense will turn heads now and then. He’ll become the fourth outfielder once Crawford’s left wrist fully heals.

11. Darnell McDonald- He’s killing the ball this spring, and with Crawford on the disabled list, the team needs a fourth outfielder to start the season. Once Crawford returns…well, that may be the end of Darnell’s time with Boston.

Designated Hitter-

12. David Ortiz- Papi has kind of quietly had two very solid years in a row. Expect some regression, but he’s still the best DH in the game.

Starting Rotation-

13. Jon Lester- Officially your Opening Day starter. Lester has been on the verge of really breaking out for the past few years, it would great to finally see him bloom into the Cy Young contender we all know he is capable of being.

14. Josh Beckett- If you look at his numbers closely, Beckett has a strange tendency to excel in odd numbered years, and completely bomb in even numbered years. Of course, that trend doesn’t bode well for this year, but his 1.24 ERA this spring is a solid start.

15. Clay Buchholz- He proved two years ago that he can be a top starter. That being said, he needs to be healthy to do that. There are some serious concerns about his back, and if he goes down early, the Sox are in serious trouble in terms of starting rotation depth.

16. Daniel Bard- Best case scenario: Bard blooms into a very reliable starter, even an ace. Worst case scenario: Bard bombs his first couple of starts and has to be awkwardly transitioned back to the bullpen. Of all the storylines going into the season, Bard’s transition to the starting rotation is the most interesting in my eyes, and probably the most significant for the sake of the team.

17. Felix Doubront- He was rough in his last outing, but he’s been nothing but solid this spring. With no Minor League options left, he has to start the year with the major league club, and it seems like the Sox are preparing him to start.

Bullpen –

18. Andrew Bailey- Say hello to your new closer. Bailey’s health is the key factor, but he has been one of the best relievers in the game over the last few seasons. I don’t expect that to change.

19. Mark Melancon- The only other lock to make the bullpen. He’s struggled this spring, but Melancon was very solid last year, and he should be a good fit for the eighth inning.

20. Alfredo Aceves- It’s tough to leave him out of the rotation, but Aceves is just too valuable in the bullpen. It seems unlikely that the Sox would move both him and Bard out of the bullpen, and Bard has all but been named a starter already, so Ace is the odd man out.

21. Michael Bowden- He’s out of minor league options, so Boston needs to find a place for him. He’s not going to be a starter, so that leaves one spot: the bullpen. He pitched well as Pawtcuket’s closer, and I like him as a sleeper to actually make a difference out of the pen.

22. Andrew Miller- Like Bowden and Doubront, Miller is out of minor league options. They need at least one lefty in the pen, and if Doubront is starting and with Franklin Morales injured, he’ll be the man.

23. Matt Albers- He was brutal after the All Star break last year, and that’s an understatement. Don’t forget though, that he did have a truly remarkable first half. If he pitches somewhere between those two extremes, he’ll be a serviceable reliever.

24. Vicente Padilla- It’s going to be hard not to give him a spot. He’s pitched very well this spring, and has done so in relief. At this point, the Sox are reaching for options out of the pen, and Padilla is proving to be as a solid an option as any of the other low risk, high reward candidates.

25.  This is a tough one. There’s really no clear cut option. It seems to be between Brandon Duckworth, Aaron Cook, and Ross Ohlendorf. One option I see is that Cook becomes the fifth starter and Doubront moves to the pen. That being said, Valentine has mentioned a few times now that Cook will probably need more time before they are comfortable with him pitching on a normal schedule. Duckworth is a very shaky option, but he’s pitched pretty well this Spring. I’ll tentatively put him in this spot for now, but tentatively is the key word there.


So there you have it. We’ll see how the chips fall in the next sixteen days, but expect a roster that at least resembles this one come Opening Day in Detroit.

Categories: Boston Red Sox

Alex Convery is a student at the University of Southern California where he studies screenwriting. He spends his time procrastinating. Follow him on twitter here: www.twitter.com/alexconvery

12 Responses to “Taking A Crack At The 25 Man Roster” Subscribe

  1. Walt in Maryland March 20, 2012 at 8:35 AM #

    With extra off-days in April, you have them OPENING the season with an 8-man bullpen? Doesn't seem likely .

    The 25th spot will go to a position player, IMO.

    • Alex Convery March 20, 2012 at 1:39 PM #

      It is a little unusual, but looking at the 40 man roster, I just don't see who the position player would be. Purely going on Spring performance, the man would be Ciriaco, but Valentine has already said that he won't make the team. Spears? Repko? Maybe, but it seems like feeling out the bullpen would be more valuable. Once Crawford returns, they might go with the seven man bullpen and keep McDonald around, but that seems like a lot of outfielders.

  2. thinman61 March 20, 2012 at 9:06 AM #

    I agree with Walt. I'd be very surprised if the Sox open the season with 13 pitchers on the roster. That said, there aren't exactly any obvious candidates for 5th outfielder or super-sub either.

  3. Walt in Maryland March 20, 2012 at 9:49 AM #

    A few possibilities:

    1. Iglesias wins the shortstop job and Aviles serves as a backup IF and OF.

    2. Iglesias goes to Pawtucket and someone like Ciriaco or Spears play a similar role

    3. Jason Repko makes the team as a fifth OF.

  4. Al from MA March 20, 2012 at 9:57 AM #

    First you can start the year with 13 pitchers if needed. You have the ultra utility man in Punto if something happens in the infield. There was no other real good outfielder other than MacDonald and the 3 starters. So while CC is on the mend on the DL you keep the 13 pitchers and when he returns you either option one of the pitchers or McDonald. Until then you evaluate the pitching staff.

    • Alex Convery March 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM #


  5. Cory March 20, 2012 at 11:26 AM #

    What happened to Franklin Morales? Are you just assuming him to be ready after opening day, which is a fair assumption? He was pretty good last year, though we still need a lefty who can shut down lefties.

    I do have a question about Miller. They made him throw the ball slower, so that his walks would go down, but they didn't. So isn't it better to let him throw 95-97 and walk people over throwing 93-95 and walk people?

    • Alex Convery March 20, 2012 at 1:32 PM #

      Morales has been held out of games so far this Spring because of a shoulder injury. He's going to make his debut on Wednesday afternoon. I don't see him having enough time to be ready to start the season with the major league club, but if he is then I'd say he's the 25th man.

  6. Walt in Maryland March 20, 2012 at 1:46 PM #

    Morales likely will open the season on the DL. I just don't see the logic of starting the season with a 13-man staff — when you DON'T need it, and then dropping back to a 12-man staff later in the month, when you have FEWER off days and need MORE pitchers.

    A three-man bench of Punto, Shoppach and McDonald would give Valentine virtually no flexibility. That is particularly true on a team that employs a DH who doesn't play in the field.

    Another option we haven't discussed is Lars Anderson, but they would have to feel pretty comfortable about using him in LF or RF.

    • Alex Convery March 20, 2012 at 2:17 PM #

      Your logic is sound, there's no question. I found it very interesting that Valentine flat out told reporters that Ciriaco wouldn't make the club. I believe the quote was something like, "I just don't have room for him on the club." This infers that Valentine already has the roster in mind, but the way he's been using position players and pitchers, outside of the starting nine, I don't know if he really has a final idea. Again, I just don't see a position player that warrants that 25th spot. Anderson may be a good bet, but the way I see it, he's a trade chip. With Gonzalez at first and the outfield all but set, Anderson doesn't really have a future with the club. It'd be more beneficial to have him rake at pawtucket then get occasional at bats at the major league level. We'll see. It should always be noted that injury will always throw a wrench in the plans. No one thought Josh Reddick would be the primary right fielder last year, and I'm sure there will be a player like that this year.

  7. Tim March 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM #

    Cook's contract doesn't require that he be recaled to the majors until May 1. He also hasn't pitched many innings in spring training yet. The plan is to have him pitch in Pawtucket for a month before possibly being recalled to the majors. The Red Sox are starting the season with 12 pitchers, 25th player will be a utility player capable of playing multiple positions for injury cover and with possible use as a late inning pinch runner. Once Crawford is healthy and if there are no other injuries, that player would be sent to Pawtucket.

  8. Walt in Maryland March 21, 2012 at 12:44 PM #

    Assuming no rainouts, the Red Sox will have three off-days in the first 15 days of the season. If Valentine wants to, he can wait until the last week of April before using a fifth starter.

    Given that, if the Red Sox "need" to start the season with 13 pitchers, they've got far more serious questions than who should be the 25th player.