So yesterday’s flurry of moves left the Red Sox active roster at 23. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington laid out to a large degree what he sees for the team going forward…at least for this year. But he of course didn’t get specific about everything. Here’s a look at what I think will happen both short-term and long-term:
*In the immediate aftermath, Anthony Ranaudo will be called up to start tonight and Will Middlebrooks will be called up as well to man 3B for probably the large majority of the rest of the year…until he gets hurt again of course. Due to the fact that the recent trades also left the bullpen with only 5 guys and with an excess of outfielders, I also expect another move before the game tonight to shore up the ‘pen. Since losing Andrew Miller, Felix Doubront (and Chris Capuano a bit ago (yes, he still counts), who coincidentally is slated to start against the Sox tonight) leaves the Sox with Craig Breslow as the only lefty in the bullpen, I expect a lefty to arrive. Likely Tommy Layne, but could be Drake Britton. The corresponding move would be to put Shane Victorino on the DL…I know, shocking. Solves the problem for now though.
*Rotation: I expect Ranaudo’s start to be a one-shot deal. But he will be back in September at the latest for some major league bullpen seasoning and maybe a start or two. The rotation appears to be Clay Buchholz/Joe Kelly/Rubby de la Rosa/Brandon Workman/Allen Webster. Ouch. But I would hopefully say that this will only be for the rest of the year. Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Eduardo Escobar, Steven Wright and maybe even Henry Owens may figure into this mix by the end of the year as well. 40 man roster space will have to be created for Owens and Barnes to be added, but there are some expendable bodies on there now (Mike Carp? Dan Butler? Alex Hassan? Jonathan Herrera? Kelly Johnson?). But the rest of 2014 could be ugly here with the growing pains of the youngsters.
2015 should have a few of these characters, but I imagine some seasoned vets mixed in as well. No way can they go into next year with 5 of the above, even if Buchholz takes his head out of his keister. Despite what people think, I do not expect Lester back next year. But I would think they get a reasonable facsimile in the offseason. Some of these arms may be used as bait. Could be anyone, so somewhat useless to speculate on who exactly at this point.
*Bullpen: Right now it’s Burke Badenhop, Breslow, Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. Double ouch. Again, I expect a lefty to be added today. And then Ranaudo to be shipped back down after his start with a guy like Alex Wilson or Heath Hembree taking that spot. Doesn’t inspire confidence, but there will be shuffling here the rest of the year as well. Provided they re-sign Koji, which it appears they wanted to send the message that they do by not trading him, they can come up with some bullpen arms between the kids and countless vets in the offseason. Not worried about that.
*Lineup: It looks like it will feature the below for the time being:
C: Vazquez/Ross, 1B: Napoli, 2B: Pedroia, SS: Bogaerts, 3B: Middlebrooks, LF: Craig/Nava, CF: Bradley, RF: Cespedes, DH: Ortiz.
I expect Brock Holt to play almost every day still, probably twice a week each for Bogaerts and Middlebrooks. Once or twice a week for Bradley. Every once in a while a day for Pedroia and Cespedes. Despite his recent slide, they seem to like him at leadoff. So he will find a way to stay in the lineup if he hits. I expect left field to actually be a strict platoon for at least the rest of the year. Craig isn’t exactly lighting it up and Nava can hit righties well. So if it’s not strict, I have a feeling it will be close. I could be wrong. I figure Craig to also pick up some starts for Napoli at 1B. Victorino is hurt again and you certainly can’t expect him to ever be healthy. So he may be the real odd man out here this year. Carp and Johnson will be lingering, but there is really no room for them.
In September you will see the return of Mookie Betts. Not sure where he will play. But I am ok with giving him more at bats in AAA through the end of their season. September callups will probably include Herrera, Ryan Lavarnway, Garin Cecchini, maybe Hassan and Butler. But playing time for them will be slim. I believe they will stick to the above lineup for a while. Unless they do something crazy like shut Pedroia down. I still feel his wrist is bothering him and that’s why his batting stats have suffered. But no one has the stones in the organization to get him out of the lineup, no less send him to a DL stint. He won’t do it himself. We should in some ways applaud him for that. But this year is a lost year. Get him ready for next year.
I don’t think you will see Blake Swihart in September, but he’s a name to keep an eye on for sure. I think he enters the mix sometime in 2015. Never know though, maybe he gets a taste. They’d have to add him to the 40-man too. But again, shouldn’t be a problem. As for next year, I think this is wide open too. Many question marks. Do they keep Xander at SS? Is Will any good and if so, will they trade him? Napoli and Victorino with their contracts down to just over a year…are they involved in waiver deals in August or even in the offseason? Can Cespedes play RF and will he sign an extension? Craig, LF or 1B? When is Swihart ready? Same catcher tandem to start the year? Where is Betts going to play? Etc. As I’ve said before, I think they use some of these guys and deal for another established bat…maybe it’s Giancarlo Stanton, maybe someone else. Seems like there are too many bodies still. If/when that happens, things will certainly shake out. Anything short of a trade like that, I think we are looking at about the same lineup in 2015. Could be worse.