The [Potential] Playoff Roster

Nick Cafardo quickly selects his playoff roster. It's...not's.........complicated.

Let’s start here: KNOCK ON WOOD.

We are all fully aware that 2011 happened. They peaked at a 9 game lead on September 3.  Today, we stand at 7.5 games on September 10. It’s happened before, but in spite of the past, ESPN ranks the Red Sox as a 99.9% certainty for the playoffs. Math has a way of negating the narrative. Let’s hope math wins this time.

Assuming that the Red Sox are flying toward the playoffs, it is never too early to begin to wonder who will be on the playoff roster. In particular, the emergence of exciting young players makes this conversation as difficult as it has been in years. Do you have Xander Bogaerts on the playoff squad? Brandon Workman? Is Jacoby Ellsbury going to be healthy enough to keep Jackie Bradley, Jr. off the squad?

Nick Cafardo tackled the subject in his most recent mailbag. There are but a few surprises (especially when you consider Nick’s aversion to young players, especially at the expense of veterans as well as his distaste for making a tough call). Here is his 25:

C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

1b: Mike Napoli

2b: Dustin Pedroia

ss: Stephen Drew

3b: Will Middlebrooks

lf: Jonny Gomes

cf: Jacoby Ellsbury

rf: Shane Victorino

dh: David Ortiz

Bench: Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, David Ross, and John McDonald (“We can assume John McDonald will be the back up infielder.” Oh, can we?)

Now, he says, it gets tricky!

Rotation: Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz

Bullpen: Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, Brandon Workman, and Matt Thornton.

From there, Nick suggests Bogaerts, Berry, Morales, or Britton as the 25th man.

Ok, I this seems salient enough except for a few points:

(1) John McDonald does not seem to be in Boston in order to make the playoff roster. Were I to guess, John McDonald is in Boston so that Boston can coax him to take a Minor League coaching role in the near future. Perhaps if the Red Sox had defensive liability in the infield, but Pedroia, Drew, and Middlebrooks are all solid to excellent fielders. There does not appear to be need for late game defensive substitution.

McDonald offers nothing at the plate, he is a .094/.171/.156 hitter for four teams in 2013 (at age 38). That Cafardo la-di-dah’s him onto the roster is absurd. If Bogaerts does not make the roster over McDonald, there will be outrage. Shoot, most of us would take Brock Holt \O/ over McDonald.

(2) Having six (seven if you are willing to include Workman) passable starters is a luxury. It seems that Cafardo is likely right to include them all on the postseason roster, but assuming Buchholz is going to start over Doubront is presumptuous. Doubront has the lesser reputation, but he was superb in June, July, and August (of course he has been disappointing in September, so the point may be moot). Buchholz, when he is on, is probably the ace, but penciling him in to be effective this October is putting the cart before the horse, as he has not thrown a pitch since June.

(3) When did Gomes become the better player/presumed starter over Daniel Nava? Yes, Farrell shuffles the lineup based on a myriad of factors, but does Cafardo know that Daniel Nava and Evan Longoria are in a dead heat for better OPS (Longoria has moved ahead by a microscopic 11 hundreths of a point)? Gomes is a good teammate, has had big hits, and has been a positive part of a positive team, but he is not having the season of Nava.

(4) Three left handed pitchers in the bullpen (Doubront, Breslow, Thornton) seems like over kill, but they likely comprise the best bullpen possibility we can put together. Who else is there to throw on a playoff roster, Rubby De La Rosa?

JBJ may become a key component in the playoffs if Jacoby Ellsbury cannot get healthy. Credit – SittingStill

(5) The article was written before we knew about Ellsbury’s fracture, but it is a very real possibility that he may not be the same guy when/if healthy. Jackie Bradley, Jr. may need to keep his offseason plans on hold.

(6) There is something to be said about Ryan Lavarnway over David Ross if there is any hint of lingering concussion issues. It would be terrifying to go into the playoffs with Ross if on minor knock would leave us with only one catcher.

So, there are the glaring retorts. That said, I would keep the following roster:

Position Players: Saltalamacchia, Napoli, Pedroia, Drew, WMB, Nava, Ellsbury, Victorino, Ortiz, Gomes, Carp, Bogaerts, Berry, Ross (14)

Pitchers: Lester, Peavy, Buchholz (tenative), Lackey, Doubront, Dempster, Workman, Breslow, Thornton, Tazawa, Uehara (11)

Having long guys like Doubront, Dempster, and Workman allow the Red Sox to make a tactical move like adding Berry. Here’s hoping that the roster versatility allows Farrell to celebrate a Quentin Berry steal in the way we once did Dave Roberts’!


Categories: Boston Media Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Daniel Nava David Ortiz Dustin Pedroia Felix Doubront Jackie Bradley Jacoby Ellsbury Jarrod Saltalamacchia John Lackey Jon Lester Junichi Tazawa Matt Thorton Will Middlebrooks Xander Bogearts

Thinks Pedro deserved the MVP and that Justin Verlander did not, that Dwight Evans was better than Jim Rice, that Marty Barrett was a worthy choice as favorite Red Sox player when I was a child, that J.D. Drew was very good for the Olde Towne Team, that Fenway Sports group owning Liverpool is not a proper reason to support that loathsome soccer club, that Peter Gammons needs a key lock on his cell phone, still thinks that Nomar Garciaparra is better than Derek Jeter, and that, finally, there is no such thing as being completely bias-free. When not writing about or watching the Red Sox, I moonlight as a father, a husband, a pastor, a doctoral candidate, an infielder and #2 hitter on the church softball team, soccer fan, Disney pass holder, snark manufacturer, and pizza connoisseur. Free time free since 2001.

One Response to “The [Potential] Playoff Roster” Subscribe

  1. Tim P September 10, 2013 at 1:04 PM #

    I agree with your roster.  I have two additional thoughts.  If a player is injured during a series, he can be replaced on the roster but the inured player is also ineligible for the next series.  So there is less risk to having Ross on the roster as he can be replaced in between games if injured.  Keep in mind is Napoli is a viable emergency catcher if both Saltalamacchia and Ross were unavailable during the course of a game. 
    In the first round best of five series, 11 pitchers might not be needed.  There is a day off between games 2 and 3.  In 2004 and I think in 2007 the Red Sox had 10 pitchers for the best-of-five series and expanded that to 11 for the ALCS and World Series.