Playing the GM Part 1: The Position Players

Chip goes through the position players, and tries to determine what Ben Cherington will do with them this offseason.

'Dustin Pedroia, Matt Wieters' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Coming off of the heels of a 69-93 season, their first 90 loss season since 1966, the Red Sox are in desperate need of a roster makeover.  While many have already turned their attention toward the shiniest assets of the Hot Stove season, Ben Cherington and his crew have more pressing issues to take care of first.  Before they can begin think about the pieces they want to add, they need to first make decisions about the players currently under control.

Let’s take a look at each player on the Red Sox roster to determine how we should handle them this offseason.  Yes, this is in a similar vein to Chad Finn’s “You Be the GM” exercise from boston.com, but you won’t be graded on it at the end.  (By the way, I got an A on mine.)  Let’s get started.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.222/.288/.472 in 448 plate appearances) – Salty put together a solid season from a power perspective; slugging 25 home runs.  Unfortunately, that’s about the only way he contributed.  He didn’t hit for average; didn’t get on base; and struck out in 31% of his plate appearances.  Yikes!  Defensively, he wasn’t much better.  People continued to openly question his game calling abilities, and his ability to throw out would-be base stealers plummeted from 31% to 18%.  Offseason Outlook:  With Lavarnway ready, it’d be smart for Cherington to shop the 27 year old catcher.

Ryan Lavarnway (.157/.211/.248 in 166 PAs) – Ok, maybe Lavarnway isn’t “ready” per se, but I have a feeling the Red Sox are about the throw him in the deep end to see if he can really swim.  He still needs a lot of work defensively, but the offense is there–despite what the stat line says.  Lavarnway will be well served if the Red Sox signed a defensive-oriented catcher with a good reputation to be his back-up.  Perhaps someone like Jose Molina (if his option is declined) or David Ross would be a good choice.  Offseason Outlook:  He’s a keeper.

James Loney (.249/.293/.336 in 456 PAs) – Um…he’s good at defense?  Yeah, that’s all I’ve got.  To be honest, I’m really looking forward to him signing a minor league deal (with a Spring Training invite) this February with the Houston Astros.  Offseason Outlook:  Goodbye.  Good riddance.  Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Dustin Pedroia (.290/.347/.449 in 623 PAs) – Was Pedroia’s 2012 season on par with his 2008-2011 run?  Not quite, but he wasn’t as far off as some have lead you to believe.  Keep in mind that his stats were affected by a brutal 26 game stretch (.210/.282/.305) where he was hurt and shouldn’t have been playing in the first place.  It was pretty much business as usual for him.  Offseason Outlook:  Pedroia is still the heart and soul of the team.  He’s the most untouchable player on the roster.

Will Middlebrooks (.288/.325/.509 in 286 PAs) – Before a wrist injury prematurely ended his season, Middlebrooks looked pretty tremendous both at the plate and in the field.  He still has a lot of work to do though in terms of patience and plate discipline.  Offseason Outlook:  He’s one of the cornerstones of the new Red Sox.  He’s not going anywhere.

Mike Aviles (.250/.282/.381 in 546 PAs) – Aviles got off to a scorching hot start in April before turning into…well, Mike Aviles.  Though not entirely his fault, Aviles’ approach at the plate symbolized everything that was wrong with the 2012 Red Sox offense:  he was overly aggressive and failed to draw walks.  He played acceptable defense for his position, but I doubt anyone will give him a Fielding Bible Award vote this winter.  Offseason Outlook:  He only received 15 PAs over the final 15 games of the season as he lost playing time to Ciracio and Iglesias.  He still has two seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining, but I think there’s a fair chance he gets non-tendered.

Pedro Ciracio (.293/.315/.390 in 272 PAs) – He wasn’t even supposed to be on the roster, and yet he had more plate appearances than any non-regular.  He neither has patience nor power, but what he lacks in those departments; he makes up with speed, defense, and versatility.  Offseason Outlook:  Considering his skill set, it seems like there is a good chance of him becoming this team’s Alex Cora for the next few years.  He stays.

Jose Iglesias (.118/.200/.191 in 77 PAs) – Iglesias was as bad (if not worse) offensively as we’d imagined.  I continue to wonder if he’ll ever hit enough to justify giving him a reserve role on the Red Sox.  Still, he dazzles defensively, so he’ll be given countless chances to make due.  Offseason Outlook:  He stays with the club for sure unless he’s a part of a super deal.  The shortstop job seems like it’s his to lose going into Spring Training.

Ryan Sweeney (.260/.303/.360 in 219 PAs) – Clearly, it would have been foolish to assume Sweeney was as good as the player who hit .373/.394/.567 with 11 doubles in April.  Still, it was impossible to foresee how a series of injuries would completely derail his season at the plate.  He’s an interesting player who brings a lot of skills to the table, but he’s never quite put it together.  Contrary to what Nick Cafardo’s favorite mailbag pen pal, Vicente, says; Sweeney is not better than Fred Lynn.  Offseason Outlook:  With Ryan Kalish already on the roster, the Red Sox don’t really need another left-handed corner outfielder who plays good defense and has doubles power.  He’ll be non-tendered.

Jacoby Ellsbury (.271/.313/.370 in 323 PAs) – This is not the season anyone wanted.  Not the Red Sox.  Not Ellsbury.  Definitely not Scott Boras.  Still, it was what it was.  We all knew some regression toward the mean was likely, but no one could have predicted him suffering a separated shoulder that caused him to miss 79 games early in the season.  Furthermore, no one could have predicted he’d revert completely back to the Ellsbury of 2008 and 2009, minus the high stolen base totals.  He’ll be free agent after 2013, so it’s make or break for him.  Offseason Outlook:  Cherington has to entertain a few trade offers right?  He’ll likely cost around $10-12M in salary next year, and he probably isn’t coming back after the season.  If they’re going to get anything for him, now is the time to deal.

Cody Ross (.267/.326/.481 in 528 PAs) – Ross was one of the few players who showed up to play this season hitting 22 home runs and 34 doubles, while playing respectable defense.  If he comes back, he’s probably better suited to play in left than in right.  Offseason Outlook:  Ross is definitely a free agent Cherington should consider retaining.  He’ll likely be looking for a two or three year deal in the $6-8M per year range.  He certainly seems worth that amount.

Daniel Nava (.243/.352/.390 in 317 PAs) – After falling off the Red Sox 40-man roster in 2011, Nava made an unexpected return in 2012.  And boy did it pay off.  His performance tailed off toward the end of the season (who’s didn’t), but his performance early in the season helped keep the Red Sox’s season afloat.  Think about it.  If he didn’t step up in May and June, it’s possible the Red Sox lose 100 games rather than 93.  Offseason Outlook:  Nava stays to be the club’s fifth outfielder.

Ryan Kalish (.229/.272/.260 in 103 PAs) – No, his performance wasn’t as good as we’d hoped, but it wasn’t terrible.  Yes, I know the numbers look bad (and they are), but keep in mind me missed major chunks of two seasons due to various injuries.  He probably won’t be fully recovered until Spring Training 2013.  Then, we’ll hopefully get to see the Ryan Kalish we hope he becomes.  Offseason Outlook:  He should be the fourth outfield/utility outfielder.

David Ortiz (.318/.415/.611 in 383 PAs) – The biggest blow to the Red Sox season occurred when Ortiz strained his Achilles tendon in late July.  The club was just about to get it’s optimal lineup back for the first time, and his injury destroyed any chance of that happening.  The lineup faltered down the stretch, and a major trade in late August put the final nail into the coffin.  Ortiz’s season, otherwise, was tremendous.  He continues to beat the odds despite his age, skill set, and somewhat recent history against left-handed pitching.  How long can he keep it going?  Who knows?  Either way, he’ll likely be making bank until he finally loses it.  Offseason Outlook:  Ben Cherington has the unenviable task of having  to sign Ortiz, but not overpaying him.  A multi-year deal is in order, but if he demands too much money; it might be tough to bring him back.

Next week, the pitchers…

Categories: Boston Red Sox Cody Ross Daniel Nava David Ortiz Dustin Pedroia Jacoby Ellsbury Jarrod Saltalamacchia Jose Iglesias Mike Aviles Ryan Kalish Ryan Lavarnway Will Middlebrooks

After being slapped with a restraining order for stealing Nick Cafardo's mail, I was forced into retirement for a brief period of time. As fun as it was to lounge around the community pool and play shuffleboard with noted internet columnist, Murray Chass, I quickly felt a yearning to write again. Now in my second tenure with Fire Brand, I have set lofty goals of achieving world domination, ending the plight of the hipsters, and becoming BFFs with Mike Trout. I am fluent in two languages (Sarcasm and English, in that order); have an intimate relationship with M&Ms; firmly believe that Lucille is the best character on Arrested Development; and spend my spare time trolling select members of the Boston media. You can follow me on Twitter @Chip_Buck.

5 Responses to “Playing the GM Part 1: The Position Players” Subscribe

  1. williamjtasker October 12, 2012 at 11:19 AM #

    Really couldn't disagree with any of these evaluations, Chip. As for Pedroia, how does he handle a couple more rebuilding seasons? Ellsbury needs to get out of there and the Red Sox need to get that done.

    • ChipBuck October 12, 2012 at 1:37 PM #

      I think he'll be fine during the rebuilding process. He won't be ok with super long-term rebuilding, but I don't think that's the kind Ben Cherington is looking to execute.

      • gerry October 16, 2012 at 3:40 AM #

        It is time to insist that Ells and Boras decide on an extension reflecting real facts. If an agreement can't be reached, the Sox will be forced to trade him for starting pitching. It's another sad day when Boras' fantasy world can, again, severely hurt the team that developed and stood by a player for so many years. How many tens of millions can a person need (or use)? Please don't say Boras is doing his job. So did Atilla. Boras profiteers (in the name of his clients) at the expense of teams, teammate, fans of all ages. He continually bites the hand that feeds him, finding legal loopholes to do so.

        Apologies for the rant. He really is the face of all lawyer jokes, and he is hurting my team and tbe kids who love their team. So,Boras will escort Ells out the door. Hopefully he winds up in Arizona where his people, the dene, will stand proud and be can do great work on the Res. Meanwhile PD will be extended, wear the "C" on his uni, and love playing with Papi, WMB, Iggy, Lava, Ross, Ciri, Kalish and all the new high ceiling Sox. He will make sure they play well. Should be an exciting new phase of his career, a prelude to coaching, maybe at ASU?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Playing the GM Part 2: The Pitchers | Fire Brand of the American League - October 16, 2012

    [...] on those currently on his existing roster.  In Part 1 last Friday, I started the dialogue by discussing their options with the position players.  Today, in Part 2: Electric Bugaloo, I will discuss the much maligned pitching [...]

  2. Playing the GM Part 3: The Free Agent Catching Options | Fire Brand of the American League - October 24, 2012

    [...] contract situations, and made assessments of each player’s future in Bostonin 2013.  (See Part 1 on Position Players and Part 2 on Pitchers)  Here’s the roster I came up [...]