Does any player enter the 2013 season as more valuable to the Red Sox than Jon Lester?
(Keith Allison/Flickr)

Every month, here on Fire Brand, I am going to take a look at the relative value of the 25 players on the current active roster. For March, that will require some projections. So for our case here we are going to assume (hope, and pray) that the front office decides that 11 days of Jackie Bradley, Jr. this April isn’t worth giving up a year of player control at the end of the decade.

The criteria for the power rankings:

1) What is the value of each player on the Red Sox roster relative to the other players? If a player was to go down for the year, who would hurt the overall performance and potential of the team the most?

2) Salaries don’t matter. Would you rather have Will Middlebrooks for $498,000 or Dustin Pedroia for $10,250,000? Middlbrooks, of course. The cheap cost of controlled players like Middlebrooks, Doubront, and Iglesias would completely skew this list.

3) Depth does matter. Part of Middlebrooks value on this list is that there is zero organizational depth to replace him if that became necessary. On the other hand, the organization is currently loaded with quality bullpen arms, lowering the overall value of the relief pitchers on this list.

4) This is based on my opinion and speculation. Your opinion may differ. That’s ok. We can still be friends. Let me know in the comment section what players you think I have too high or too low.






 Ryan Sweeney

 OF  Thanks a lot, Jackie Bradley, Jr! Following the all too publicized success of JBJ’s Spring Training, Sweeney finds himself on the verge of being out of a job. If I was running the team, he would only be on the roster until April 12. 


 Clayton Mortensen  RHP  Mortensen is a moderately solid long reliever, but barring another Daniel Bard implosion or some bullpen injuries, he is most likely just keeping a roster spot warm until his return. Bard has options left, Mortensen doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. 


 Andrew Miller  LHP Miller is a mediocre bullpen option, but opens the season as the only lefty in the pen. With Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales on the way back Miller will have to hold on to his job because of the quality of his pitching, not which arm he’s throwing the ball with. 
 22  Mike Carp


 I was really happy with the low-cost, low-risk acquisition of Carp because he filled a definitive need on this team, but if he doesn’t get off to a decent start he’s an early candidate to see the ominous letters DFA next to his name. 
 21  Pedro Ciriaco


 Ciriaco did everything that you could ask of a utility infielder last year, but he was a career minor leaguer with only 40 major league AB’s coming into his breakout 2012 campaign. If it proves not to be a fluke he could move up this list, but if it was, Brock Holt will be taking his spot on here. 


 Alfredo Aceves


 This is lower than Aceves skill and flexibility deserves, but the word is that there are people within the organization who have grown tired of his act. As with the guys behind him on this list, if he has a bad start (or any kind of behavioral issue) his time with the 2013 Red Sox could be cut very short. 


 Daniel Nava


 Nava’s in the teens! He has developed into a better than serviceable left fielder, and a very good hitter against right-handed pitching (.269/.383/.414 in 2012). Adding the option of playing first base this spring gives an extra bump in his value to the club. 
 18  Jose Iglesias


 Iglesias is a major candidate to move up this list as the season progresses, or to be completely off of it in the first few weeks of the season. It all depends on when and if he hits the ball, and how Stephen Drew plays when he returns from his concussion. 


 David Ross  C I feel like this is a really high spot for a backup catcher, but what Ross brings defensively and as a leader gives him an extra spot or two. Also, depending on the development and progression of Salty, Ross could be seeing a lot more time than an average backup catcher.  


 Andrew Bailey  RHP  Bailey is probably the most likely candidate on the 25 man roster to be traded in the near future. If not, he serves as bullpen depth and Hanrahan insurance. 
 15  Jonny Gomes


 He drops quite a bit for being a subpar defender and generally a non-factor vs. right handed pitchers. But his impact against left handed pitching alone is enough to start him out at #15 for the season. 


 Jarrod Saltalamacchia  C  Salty made a decent jump last season, without question. In his entire major league career he had accounted for a WAR of 1.4. In 2012 alone he posted a WAR of 1.2. But his game calling, throwing, and pitch selection all need to improve drastically this season for him to be anything more than a marginal starter. 
 13  Shane Victorino


 I enter the season with the Victorino signing being my least favorite of the 2012-13 offseason. Maybe his bat will play in Fenway, or maybe his defense and leadership will provide enough value even if his hitting leaves something to be desired. 


  Felix Doubront  LHP  Doubront is the one pitcher that I left out of my Pitchers Predictions Column earlier this year. I just don’t know what to expect from him. Last season was a crazy jump in innings pitched for Prince Felix, and he reportedly showed up to camp in less than prime condition. But then I hear Buchholz say “He’s got some of the best left-handed stuff in the game” and for a minute I allow myself to imagine that last year was just the start of great things to come for this kid. 
 11   Junichi Tazawa


 Tazawa’s 9.00 K/BB ratio in 2012 was good for 3rd overall in the major leagues. Even with a bullpen that has improved significantly on paper, he should play a crucial role in what should be one of the team’s biggest strengths, its relief pitching. 


 John Lackey  RHP  As the highest paid player on the Sox payroll this season, Lackey is very appreciative that salaries don’t figure into these rankings. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him ascend to the top 5, or fall to the bottom 5. Only time will tell.
 9  Koji Uehara


 2012’s Major League leader in K/BB ratio at 14.33 looms large as a high pressure 7th/8th inning option for new manager John Farrell. 


 Joel Hanrahan RHP   If you had doubts about his control after his miserable September performance with Pittsburgh, this spring (5.7 BB/9) has done nothing to calm those fears. Bailey’s presence on the roster as an experienced closer lessens Hanrahan’s overall value to the team.  
 7  Ryan Dempster


 If Dempster can pitch 200 innings, help do his part to preserve the bullpen, and keep the ball in the park he will be an excellent #3 starter for Boston.  


 Mike Napoli


Napoli has looked great in the spring, and has the potential to have an absolutely monster season at the plate, playing half of his games in a park that was built for his right handed power swing. 


 Will Middlebrooks  3B  The Red Sox had a 43-32 record in the 75 games that he played in, a .573 winning percentage. In the games that he didn’t play, the team went 26-61 (.298). On top of that, there is the minor issue that if Middlebrooks goes down again this year there is no one waiting to replace him. 
 4 Clay Buchholz


Will the 2010 version of Clay Buchholz ever resurface? I think that he will this season, and if he does he will quickly become one of the most valuable players on this roster.


 Dustin Pedroia  2B A leader at the plate, in the field, and in the clubhouse. The Sox need 150+ games out of Pedey. The team is simply different when he is in the lineup. His total WAR of 31.5 since 2007 puts him at an average of 5.25 per season. That can’t be replaced, and hopefully it won’t have to be. 
 2  Jacoby Ellsbury


 Jacoby plays a premium defensive position, and does it superbly. He is also responsible for one of the most impressive stat lines I have ever had the joy of watching be complied on a day to day basis in 2011. If he falls victim to another injury, or just can’t get back to his form of two seasons ago, it’s going to be very difficult for this team to stay near the top of the AL East in 2013. 
 1  Jon Lester  LHP 

The season hangs on Lester’s left arm. If he is an ace, they will compete. If he is what he was last year, we’re all in for another long year. Based on his look, his 0.90 ERA, and his 0.50 WHIP this spring, I’m willing to live with that chance.