Every month, here on Fire Brand, I take a look at the relative value of the 25 players on the current active roster.
In case you missed the last one, here are 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 Junichi Tazawa for $815,000 or Andrew Bailey for $4,100,000? Tazawa, of course. The cheap cost of controlled players like Middlebrooks, Tazawa, and Doubront 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 evaluation. 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.
Note: All statistics are for April only, and therefore don’t include Wednesday night’s game against Toronto.
|25||Clayton Mortensen||25||The good news is that he doesn’t walk a lot of batters (1.7 BB/9), the bad news is it is because they are too busy getting hits (7.6 H/9). He continues to be one of the players on the roster bubble with Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow on the way back.|
|24||Andrew Miller||23||I am an admitted Miller-hater. He has filthy stuff (15.9 SO/9) but unfortunately it comes at a big cost (9.5 BB/9). If there’s one thing I don’t want my bullpen pitchers to do it is walk a lot of batters.|
|23||Alex Wilson||NR (AAA)||In 6 innings he’s walked 3, struck out 4, and hasn’t given up a run. There’s certainly not much to complain about there, he has done what you would want him to do in his limited, low-pressure appearances.|
|22||Pedro Ciriaco||21||He has only had 23 plate appearances so far this season, which means that Pedroia, Middlebrooks and Drew/Iglesias have been healthy. I like Ciriaco, but if he isn’t playing much that means the starters are on the field and that’s a good thing.|
|21||Joel Hanrahan||8||He made the biggest downward move from the March Rankings. Hanrahan closed three games early on, but carries a bloated 11.12 ERA with a WHIP of 2.294. Given how effective Bailey, Tazawa, and Uehara have been I’m not exactly clamoring to see him come in with the game on the line anytime soon. I wasn’t even excited to see him come in on Tuesday night to try and hold the deficit at 1 run. (Spoiler Alert: He didn’t succeed.)|
|20||Jarrod Saltalamacchia||14||Oh Salty. It’s awkward when your backup is better than you both offensively and defensively. At the plate, Salty is what he is. He hits home runs (3) and he strikes out (27). In the field he has been an absolute train wreck (with apologies to train wrecks, who have every right to be offended by that comparison). Opposing base stealers are a perfect 12 for 12 against him, and he has made some atrocious throws including a boneheaded 2 run error when he threw the ball into right field with the bases loaded against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.|
|19||Jonny Gomes||15||First Gomes lost AB’s to JBJ, and lately his playing time has suffered because of the strong starts by Nava and Carp. He’s made two great catches in left field, and I love having his power bat lurking on the bench in late innings, so this low ranking is really just a reflection of the lack of opportunities that has had so far this season.|
|18||John Lackey||10||I’m really encouraged by what we’ve seen from Lackey so far (4.00 SO/BB) but his unfortunate injury in his first start has left him with only 10.1 IP for the month. Hopefully he has made his only trip to the DL for the season, because he appears to have the stuff this year to be a solid back end of the rotation pitcher for this team.|
|17||Felix Doubront||12||He strikes a lot of batters out (11.9 SO/9) and he walks a lot (5.0 BB/9), that combination leads to way too many short outings. After only going 5.0 innings in each of his first two starts he upped his workload to 6.2 for his last two starts of the month. Even though the team is 4-0 in his starts (thanks in large part to the Red Sox scoring an average of 7.5 runs in his starts) the word I would use to summarize my Prince Felix experiences is “frustrating.” Maybe I should cut him some slack, he is only 25.|
|16||David Ross||17||Ross has thrown out 30% of would-be base stealers, which compares very favorably with Salty’s 0%. He also has the same number of HR’s as Jarrod (3) in less than half the number of plate appearances (30 to 78). He has a higher average than Salty, a better SLG%, and a higher OPS. Should I go on? He’s the best catcher on this team, at the plate and behind it.|
|15||Mike Carp||22||(via Brian MacPherson) “Carp had 11 extra-base hits in 189 plate appearances in 2012. He had 8 extra-base hits in 26 plate appearances in April.” He leads the team in both SLG (.958) and OPS (1.458). In short, he’s been way better than it would have been reasonable to expect.|
|14||Stephen Drew||NR (DL)||His bat has received plenty of early negative attention and thankfully it’s finally starting to heat up (reasonable since he missed basically all of Spring Training) but he’s been really solid with the glove. He’s had only 1 error in 62 chances, and he’s been steady and competent in the field. He is, and will continue to be, a great addition to this club.|
|13||Will Middlebrooks||5||The 6 home runs are nice but the 32 strikeouts have been a lot to take. Could Middlebrooks and Napoli go for a combined 400 K’s on the season? They’re on pace for that after one month. I really have to credit WMB though for not letting his offensive woes effect his defensive performance. He’s been an anchor at 3B, and indescribably better than the statue formerly known as Youkilis at the hot corner.|
|12||Ryan Dempster||7||Through 5 starts, Dempster has been very 3rd starterish. He hasn’t killed anyone, either his own team or the opponents. He’s striking out a ton of guys (12.9 SO/9 compared to a career average of 7.9) and he has definitely out pitched his much-discussed Texas statistics (3.30 ERA in 2013 vs. 5.09 with the Rangers in 2012). But the 5 regular starters accounted for a total of only 3 losses in the month, and Dempster took 2 of those.|
|11||Junichi Tazawa||11||Tazawa has been so reliable that when he doesn’t come through (like the 7th inning, lead surrendering HR to Edwin Encarnacion) I feel legitimately shocked and let down. Still, he has a WHIP of less than 1, and a SO/BB ratio of 7.00. I’ll gladly take someone with those numbers out of the bullpen any day.|
|10||Koji Uehara||9||An ERA of 1.69, a WHIP of .750, a SO/BB ratio of 12.00! Uehara is an absolute bullpen machine. I don’t remember feeling more confidence in a relief pitcher coming in with 2 runners on, no one out, than I do with Koji.|
|9||Shane Victorino||13||I wasn’t in on the Victorino signing, but his defense alone would have been enough to make him a good acquisition. I’ve watched players roam RF in Fenway my whole life and I have never seen anyone do it as well as he has so far this season. On top of that, he’s hitting .292 with an OBP of .358. His 0.9 WAR for the month puts him behind only Ellsbury and Pedroia for Red Sox batters.|
|8||Daniel Nava||19||As Hunter Golden summarized yesterday, Nava is no longer just a good story, he is a very good every day player. If he maintains his current pace he’s likely to end the year in the neighborhood of 25 HR and 85 RBI. On top of that he has been playing two OF positions well and provides additional depth at 1B. While Nava made the biggest jump in this month’s rankings, you could easily argue that 8 is too low for what he did for this team in the opening month of the season.|
|7||Andrew Bailey||16||I noted under Hanrahan’s comments in the March edition of this column that “Bailey’s presence on the roster as an experienced closer lessens Hanrahan’s overall value to the team.” How long did it take for that to play out? Bailey has struck out 14.9 batters per 9 IP, and saved 5 of his 6 chances (with the one blown save resulting in him backing into the win on Patriots’ Day). As long as Bailey can keep the walks down (and stay healthy, which is always a concern with him) Hanrahan won’t be getting that closer role back any time soon.|
|6||Mike Napoli||6||He is who we thought he was. Nap has either torn the cover off of the ball (.529 SLG, 13 2B, 4 HR) or he has missed it completely (40 SO). He’s played well enough that suddenly everyone’s biggest concern isn’t the health of his hips, but that he is going to Adrian Beltre us and sign with a new team next year after a great one year stint.|
|5||Jacoby Ellsbury||2||I will gladly take a .336 OBP with a 92% success rate stealing bases out of my leadoff hitter, but it’s the way that he covers centerfield that truly bumps his value to the top levels of the team in my book.|
|4||David Ortiz||NR (DL)||He has been a man among boys since returning. Granted it’s only been 9 games, his stat line is patently absurd — .500/.513/.917. Righties shouldn’t even bother pitching to him (15 for 25 on the year). The only thing that is keeping him from being even higher is missing 17 games and not playing defense.|
|3||Dustin Pedroia||3||An on-base percentage of .444? That’s ridiculous. The power numbers will come, but if you get on base nearly half of the time you come to the plate you are incredibly valuable whether you’re hitting for power or not. (Harold Reynolds career OBP was over 100 points lower at .327, so shut up Harold.)|
|2||Jon Lester||1||His last two outings have been a little bit more difficult, but Lester has been what we all hoped Lester could be again. He wraps up April at 4-0 with a 3.11 ERA in 37.2 innings. His HR/9 rate to this point is less than half of what it was in 2012 (0.5 in 2013, down from 1.1). It’s hard to not be encouraged by what we’ve seen from the lefty this month.|
|1||Clay Buchholz||4||Not only has Buchholz been the most valuable member of the Red Sox to this point in 2013, you could make a reasonable argument that he has been the best pitcher in all of baseball. Clay matched Lester’s 37.2 IP in one fewer start. His 1.19 ERA, 9.3 SO/9, and 0.2 HR/9 are all off the charts great. Buchholz was the unquestioned ace of the staff for the month of April.|