Before the 2013 baseball season began, speculation surrounding the Red Sox was that they headed into the season with plenty of offensive positional depth at both the Major League and Minor League level. However, fans and writers alike still questioned the actual legitimacy of this depth at the Major League level. And with guys on the roster with the last names Nava, Carp, Gomes, Saltalamacchia, and Ciriaco, those apprehensions could not be brushed aside.
Some of the questions brought up during the preseason were as follows:
- Would the left field platoon of Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes produce enough offensively to produce a combined WAR level that exceeded a number greater than 0? Answer: Through the Red Sox first 69 games, Nava and Gomes have combined to produce an fWAR of 1.6 (1.0 for Nava, 0.6 for Gomes). Due simply to Nava’s incredible offensive season, Gomes has been relegated to a steady presence off the bench. He is also the proverbial “glue guy”… and everyone needs a Scalabrine.
Nava has become the Red Sox everyday LF/RF. His triple slash line is .294/.389/.468 to go along with 9 HR and 44 RBI. He is on pace to drive in over 100 runs and hit 20 plus home runs; those aren’t platoon numbers, those are All-Star numbers.
- Who is the backup first baseman? Mike Carp? Daniel Nava? Answer: Mike Carp (more later).
- Will Ciriaco be the UTIL guy all year long? Answer: While Ciriaco was a serviceable utility man for a while, Jose Iglesias is a better one. Due to Iglesias’s phenomenal glove and surprising offensive start, there is now a wealth of talent on the left side of the infield with Middlebrooks and Drew. This wealth has become a problem that is good to have if you are John Farrell.
When I began writing the 3 Up 3 Down columns back in April I did not envision this triumvirate leading the charge in the 3 Up category for a week. If you had told me this would have been the case I would have asked you if the Red Sox were in last place.
Well, we all know this is not the case. The Red Sox stand a half game up on the Orioles in first place and possess the second best record in all of baseball.
In baseball, like in all sports, successful teams need reliable depth. They need to have guys who can handle being a role player at times, but who can also handle the spotlight if thrust into a starting position. It is a tricky proposition as a player, and a difficult task for any front office. While Ben Cherington certainly knows more than I do, the move to acquire Mike Carp now makes him look like a genius.
While no one has ever questioned Carp’s raw power, questions always surrounded his ability to hit for average at the Major League level. In his two real MLB stints prior to coming to Boston he hit .276 and .213. A .240 average is not what you would want out of a guy replacing Napoli or Ortiz. Before the season started Carp was a guy with power upside, but questionable at best.
Fortunately, in 2013, Carp’s triple slash line is .320/.367/.660. He has hit 7 HR in 109 PA and sports a 0.9 fWAR in the 40 games he has played. Since the beginning of the Texas series 11 days ago Carp has 13 hits in 32 at bats with 4 HR and 9 RBI. At this point, and with the entire team healthy, Carp has forced John Farrell to find ways to get his bat into the lineup.
Since returning to the Majors on May 24, Jose Iglesias has been on fire. He is hitting .451/.495/.585, playing spectacular defense, and has a 1.5 fWAR! through on 25 games. The career .257 minor league hitter has been simply remarkable offensively. Is Iglesias all of a sudden a really good big league hitter or has he been extremely lucky?
According to FanGraphs, Iglesias’s .522 BABIP points to him being very lucky and his rest of the season ZiPS projection gives him a .277/.321/.336 triple slash line (if Iglesias finishes with that kind of a line any Red Sox fan would be thrilled). However, Iglesias’s offensive regression, when it comes, will be fast and hard.
On behalf of Red Sox Nation I would like to thank Jack Keller for writing a column about David Ross deserving more starts over Salty. While Jack’s very well thought out argument for Ross was extremely deserving and convincing, Salty quieted his critics since.
In 52 games this season Salty has hit 8 HR, driven in 28, and is hitting a career best .276/.338/.503. Although some Sox fans might be concerned with the lack of HR, Salty has already hit 17 doubles this season (his career high for a single season in 23). It is inevitable that some of those doubles will turn to home runs as the temperature rises and balls carry that little bit more in the warmer weather.
Lastly, Salty’s fWAR currently stands at 1.3, which is only 0.5 off his 1.8 career best mark. If Salty can keep this up, 2013 will prove to easily be his best year in the majors.
Lester was not good his last time out against Tampa Bay giving up 7 runs (3 HR) in 4 2/3 innings. His ERA is up to 4.12 and his inconsistency continues. Last week I wrote this about Lester: Let’s not hit the panic button with Lester yet, Red Sox fans. Although he has been less than stellar in his last 4 outings, he is still pitching deep into games and keeping the Sox offense within striking distance. The fact that he was able to limit Texas to 3 runs last night allowed for the Ortiz magic. That is a positive.
However, Lester has to be better; he is not a middle of the rotation starter. Run support won’t be there every night and there will come a time down the road when the Sox need Lester to put an end to a losing streak. If he can consistently be that guy in 2013 remains to be seen.
While I still don’t think we should hit the panic button, Lester did not keep the Sox within striking distance in Tampa and is looking more and more like he isn’t the stopper the Sox need him to be. Although the Sox look very good right now they will absolutely need Lester to right the ship if they want to make a run in October.
Pedroia has found himself in his first real slump of the season. Since last Sunday against the Angels Pedroia is 4-28 with only 1 walk, 3 RBI, and 0 extra base hits. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the Sox are playing .500 baseball during this stretch.
And just when we all thought he might be turning a corner he gives up 7 hits, 3 runs, and can’t make it through the 5th inning in Baltimore on Thursday night. The silver lining of this outing was that he struck out 5 and only walked 1.
On this same Thursday night while in control of Fire Brand’s twitter account I posed this question, which will take us to our Tweets of the Week:
Finally. Can anyone think of a more maddening pitcher to watch than Doubront? Dice-K, Wake on a bad day?
— Fire Brand of the AL (@firebrandal) June 14, 2013
While I succeeded in my goal of soliciting opinions, conversations, and responses it was not without reprimand from some of the Fire Brand writers:
The @firebrandal account has gone crazy. Dice-K is easily the most maddening pitcher to watch. It's not even close.
— My Name is Jonah (@Chip_Buck) June 14, 2013
I may have to commandeer @firebrandal if whoever's currently tweeting on it thinks Doubront is worse than Dice-K
— Daniel Poarch (@PoarchDaniel) June 14, 2013
@firebrandal YOUR QUESTION IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD
— Daniel Poarch (@PoarchDaniel) June 14, 2013
Mike Napoli likes hockey:
Omg wow!! I caught myself holding my breath for that last min 40. I'm lightheaded. What a finish
— Mike Napoli (@MikeNapoli25) June 8, 2013
The comeback continues…
Kenny powers has nothing on me. Getting ready for my Mexican league debut in Reynosa love the game. pic.twitter.com/B33LF5gjK4
— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) June 9, 2013
I think so too:
Don't want to jinx it but I'm starting to think the Red Sox are a little bit better than 'good'
— Hunter Golden (@HunterGBaseball) June 9, 2013
Chad Finn FTW:
Patrick Kane looks like a werewolf going through puberty.
— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) June 13, 2013
ETA… Not soon enough:
— Fire Brand of the AL (@firebrandal) June 15, 2013
Chipper Jones is too lazy for Google:
How old is Puig?
— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) June 9, 2013
"For [Papelbon], you had better send me Prince!" – Harold Reynolds
— Heard on MLB Tonight (@HeardOnMLBT) June 14, 2013
If you don’t follow FakeJohnLackey you need to:
No one is going to bother watching the game tonight since I am not pitching.
— John Lackey…not (@Fake_JohnLackey) June 11, 2013