Step Away From the Ledge, Look to the Future

What positives can be drawn from the third season of the Red Sox regressive decline into a “protected pick team”? We finally have a new franchise changing manager? no. We are just one arm or one bat short of making it back? no.  In the end, it boils down to the play of the various youngsters who made the trip to Fenway this season that becomes the thing to look forward to in 2013.

In particular, two position players stand out when looking at this roster in terms of the future.

Will Middlebrooks,Photo taken by Brian Blanco This 24 year old, 6’4, 200lb former football player instantly gained the attention and excitement of Sox fans from the first game he played (a walk and two hits).  From his cannon of an arm, to the very live pop of his bat, Middlebrooks had shown he belonged immediately.  Will had his call up on May 2nd, and on June 24th baseball was treated to one of the most classy send offs in history as the last hurdle for Middlebrooks, Kevin Youkilis, came off third base as he was traded to Chicago in the first of a few deals to clear old money for younger talent.

Middlebrooks continued to play well–not quite to the levels of his MLB player of the week honors in late June–for the remainder of his unfortunate shortened season, as he would bat .288 on the year to go along with 15 HR in just 75 games played before a pitch broke his wrist on August 11th, ending his memorable rookie season.

What does the future hold for the former #1 prospect in the Red Sox organization? The way he preformed out of the gate is a good sign that he can adapt to the game well, and Sox fans should be able to look forward to seeing Will Middlebrooks name in the everyday lineup for years to come, with a few All-Star nominations if things go as planned.

The other player who came up large when the Sox really needed that boost was a very unlikely candidate… That player? None other than the current third basemen Pedro Ciriaco.

The Dominican born infielder had his initial Major League at bats with Pittsburgh in 2010 before signing a minor league deal with Boston in the winter of 2011.  Ciriaco initially impressed not only the Boston brass, but the Sox fans who had watched the spring training games where he led the team in nearly every offensive statistical category and seemed to have the game winning or tying hit in nearly every game.  Some (myself) even flooded twitter with calls for Ciriaco to start the season with the big club, given the contract Nick Punto had just signed, it wasn’t happening. Pawtucket is where he would start the season.

July 7th against the Yankees, in prime time… not exactly the easiest scenario for a youngster to make his debut with the Red Sox. However when the game was settled, he was the one featured on the highlight reel as he was awarded the Player of the Game.  Little did anyone know that would just be the beginning of the Yankees torment at the hands of the former Pirate. Over the next eight games against New York, Ciriaco would post a triple slash of .486/.500/.657 some of that would even come while he was in a 8-50 slumber.  All the while showing very good speed as well as a nice glove to go with it.

At the of age 27 (as of September 27th) one would think Sox fans would be happy and comfortable to see Ciriaco as the new and improved Alex Cora, the guy who you know is going to be there in whatever capacity needed, and provide a reliable glove.  Ciriaco adds impressive speed and a good–albeit streaky–bat.

With a minors that boasts names such as Matt Barnes, Jackie Bradley, Bryce Brenz, Xander Bogearts as well as newcomers Webster and De La Rosa we need to collectively put our faith in Ben Cherington to stick to the program that became corrupt under Theo Epstiens regime, and build from the minors.  The young talent stored in Pawtucket all the way down to Ft. Meyers (along with a high pick this season) is plenty for Red Sox fans to look forward to in these dark, sad days on Landsdowne.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Kevin Youkilis Pedro Ciriaco Will Middlebrooks

Native New Yorker who became a diehard Red Sox fan from a young age, now residing in South Florida. Can be found on twitter @Brandon5tewart (Yes, it's a Nomar tribute).

9 Responses to “Step Away From the Ledge, Look to the Future” Subscribe

  1. Steve September 30, 2012 at 8:46 AM #

    Well written and good ideas, but you need to fix your grammar and punctuation–it makes it difficult to read when you don't attend to these things.

    • @Brandon5tewart October 3, 2012 at 7:58 AM #

      I had actually written it from my iPhone, crazy work schedule to blame, thanks for the feedback.

  2. Gerry October 1, 2012 at 3:53 AM #

    Grammar and speling: the bane of internet writing. Nevertheless, a good piece and well-timed. My hope is that Ben goes back to Theo's original, oft-stated mantra of building from within. In addition to WMB and Ciri, the 2012 'kids' also included success stories from Iglesias, Doubront, Tazawa. Nava and adopted kids Mortensen, Miller, Hill, Carpenter, Bailey and a rejuvenated Melancon.

    Unfortunately, Bogaerts, Bradley, Brentz, Barnes, Shaw, Webby aren't quite ready, so the Sox must use some of those Mulligan $$ to augment Ells, PD, Papi, WMB, Ross/Kalish or Nava, Salty/Lava and Iggy at 1B and corner OF, as well as a new SP, until the kids are ready.

    Could the FO eat enough crow to get Youk back for a year or two at 1B and retire a Red Sox? He has the best glove and OBP available, and will hit 35 doubles and 20+HR and the fans would be ecstatic. Failing that a trade for young Ike Davis, future GG with .350 OBP and
    30+HR? Choo in RF for a year, or can Ryan Kalish hold the fort while Bradley JR is ready? For that matter, can Bogaerts play 1B, as no way should the Sox give Iglesias up. A year at SS might make him untouchable. I know I will pay to watch his magic show, and the hitting is starting to come. Cafardo, Remy, Magadan, Beyeler and the scouts called it and tbey are right. The new Visquel?

    I was never on the ledge. The injured and augmented core will once again provide great offense, defense and an awesome bullpen. Thanks to available $$, the emergrnce of Doubront, the possible rebound of Lackey, Lester & Buck, the availability of Rubby, Webby, Hernandez and a FA via protected pick, the rotation should also rock. IMOptimisticopinion, the Sox will contend in 2013 and, thanks to the core and the $$, will enter another multi-year run at the postseason.

    • John P. Martin October 1, 2012 at 9:35 AM #

      Interesting idea about resigning Youkilis.

      While watching Iglesias play in the field is a joy, I am still not convinced he can hit in the majors. Unlike Pedroia, Ellsbury or Middlebrooks, Iglesias has never really hit in the minors, although he is still pretty young. That said, while I really like Mike Aviles and was impressed with his defense, his offense was disappointing, and not good enough to outweigh Iglesias' defense. I don't know if I would start either next year unless I had to.

      Have to disagree, though, with the prevelant criticism of Epstein getting away from buiding from within. The 2011 Red Sox had more home grown contributors than the 2004-2007 teams. Signing Lackey and Crawford certainly turned out to be mistakes. But Lackey was always a fierce competitor, and was not signed at ace money at the time (too many years? yes). Crawford was a very good player, signed to a great player contract, and signing a 30-year old free-agent speed guy is probably never a very good idea.

  3. Walt in Maryland October 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM #

    The Red Sox traded Youkilis because he was aging and injury prone. Why would they want him back, other than the fact that he'd be cheaper this time?

    Agree on Middlebrooks, but don't get too excited about Ciriaco. Once pitchers realized he'd swing at anything, his batting average plummeted. And his average is pretty much his entire offensive game, since he never walks and has little power.

    I love the speed and the versatility, and he could be a very valuable utility man going forward. But that's it.

    • John P. Martin October 1, 2012 at 11:15 AM #

      They traded Youkilis because Middlebrooks was better at third and Gonzalez was better at first. They would bring Youkilis back because he might be better (and cheaper) at first (his better defensive position, which is also less of an injury risk) than any other option available. Again, I haven't really looked into what else is out there, but it might not be as outlandish as it might otherwise seem.

  4. @Brandon5tewart October 1, 2012 at 6:10 PM #

    I agree on all fronts Walt, that's why I view him like Cora, you know the glove is there, the speed is evident and he can play where needed… A super utility role I think will fit him well.

  5. @Brandon5tewart October 1, 2012 at 6:13 PM #

    If we're talking a little crazy scenarios, I threw out this one this morning… If the Mets decline David Wrights option the Red Sox could sign him and shift either he or Middlebrooks to first. I know spending big money isn't what this team needs right now, but given the fact that the first round pick they have is protected, this is the time to take advantage. I think Wright would thrive at Fenway.

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