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Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Dempster’


Many Boston Red Sox fans, self included, are still on a World Series championship high. It was an off-season that had a bit of drama as Jacoby Ellsbury left to don pinstripes, Jerrod Saltalamacchia went home to the Marlins, and Stephen Drew entered the nether world after turning down the Red Sox’ qualifying offer. They retained Mike Napoli, took a flyer on Grady Sizemore and signed some more arms for the bullpen.

Spring Training itself was relatively quiet. Ryan Dempster, for whom they overpaid in the previous off season, decided to sit out the season with a variety of injuries and a desire to spend more time with family. It was a bit of a shock that solved one of the Red Sox’ “problems” since they had 6 pro level starters. We should have seen the Big Papi drama coming. He craves security, as well as the spotlight. They ended up signing him to an extension that should result in Ortiz retiring as a member of the Red Sox. I have no problem with the deal since he is still one of the best hitters in the big leagues. The option years have benchmarks that should mean they don’t end up in a Yankee’s like situation of paying a nearly useless player lots of money. The other storyline of importance (Peavy’s injury wasn’t much of a distraction when it was all said and done) was about who would play centerfield: Bradley or Sizemore. This was prompted by Sizemore’s amazing return to health and a level of play reminiscent of his days as an All-Star for the Indians. Bradley’s offensive struggles didn’t help his cause. Proving that he can play 4 days in a row, at a high level, sealed the deal and Sizemore has been named the opening day centerfielder.

The Outfield As a nameless GM said, the Red Sox should ride the Sizemore horse as long as they can. This means that as long as he plays they experience little to no drop off in play after losing Jacoby. He is an experienced lead off man (though he won’t play that role immediately,Nava will play that role) who is probably a better defender than Jacoby (whose speed covered a multitude of sins on his initial reads) and has more power than Jacoby. He won’t steal anywhere near the number of bases as Jacoby, but he can steal a few bags. He has thus far proven more healthy than Jacoby. If he does get hurt, Bradley can more than fill his shoes defensively and hopefully he’ll sort out the offensive issues he had this spring. Victorino can do spot starts in center, but he will mostly patrol right field, assuming he’s healthy. Last year he provided the best right field defense of any Sox player since Dwight Evans. That is saying something. Nava and Gomes will likely platoon in left giving the Red Sox an outfield with 2 excellent, 1 good and 1 mediocre defender but all hitters who help the team. Should the bodies start dropping, in addition to Bradley, they have the revived Brentz to play right field. He displayed the power that could make him a middle of the line up guy at some point. (more…)

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In the last 2 seasons the Boston Red Sox have not lived up to expectations. Before the 2011 season some proclaimed the “best team in baseball”. They certainly had talent, but winning baseball games is about more than having talent. The 2011 and 2012 seasons were painful lessons illustrating this.

Heading into the current season, most analysts and fans were down on the Red Sox. They looked at the Blue Jays’ acquisitions (forgetting the lessons they should have learned from the ’11 Sox and ’12 Angels) and anticipated the Rays and O’s to continue to play well thereby giving the Red Sox a snowball’s chance in Hades.

I, and a few others, were not so negative. I saw a number of positive things- particularly a return to the plate approach that had made them successful in the past. Others talked about how they wouldn’t score runs. I begged to differ. So far I am right. They have one of the most productive offenses in baseball.

Pedroia (USA Today Sports)

What is amazing is that this has happened without Middlebrooks being a middle of the line up bat. Or even productive. Or even in the majors. Big Papi has picked up where he left off with a new plate approach gained from conversations with A-Gon(e). There was a tangible benefit from that trade for Alex Gonzalez: the new and improved David Ortiz. He has simply been great the last 2 seasons. When on the field. This was a major concern after missing the last third of ’12 and all of Spring Training. But he has not had any problems with the foot. He has even stolen bases. This is a great sign.

Napoli started the season like a man on a mission. But it is a season, not a month. He struggled in June. As July has come on he has pulled out of his slump and shown a resurgence of power. He still strikes out more than you’d like but he drives in lots of runs and sees lots of pitches. He has also been more than serviceable in the field. He’s not a Gold Glove candidate but he’s not an error-machine either. With Pedrioa’s steady and often spectacular defense, the Red Sox have had a consistently good right side of the infield. Dustin has been spectacular. He has made so many amazing and crucial plays it is uncanny. While his power numbers have been down, he is still doing his job at the plate. I can’t fathom why he was only 3rd in AL All-Star voting for 2nd. Apparently no one is watching the Destroyer play. When you consider he’s playing with a completely torn ligament in his thumb, it is even more amazing. Petey is just amazing and we need to enjoy the greatness while it remains.

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New Sox pitcher Ryan Dempter (AP)

By all accounts, most Red Sox fans are supposed to be depressed, disappointed by the free agent signings this winter.

Count me as one of the minority. I did not want them do what they had in the past, and the Punto trade freed them from: long term deals. That deal gave them 2 young pitchers for the future. They have a few prospects, particularly in the outfield that are going to be ready soon. Locking up Hamilton and another outfielder just didn’t make sense to me.

One thing I noticed is that they addressed one of the issues that plagued them last season. They signed players who have a solid approach at the plate, work the count and get walks (here is a great article about plate approach). This slipped away from them last season. It allows them to wear down pitchers, allow other guys to get a good look at a pitcher’s stuff increase the odds of getting a pitch you can drive. The guys they signed also have swings suited for the confines of Fenway Park. Last year, their offense didn’t dominate at home. They seem to have fixed that too.

Napoli, despite his hip condition, has hit the ball well. Yes, it is only Spring Training (just insert this often). And he has defended well. This is a good sign. Defense matters too! While I don’t expect him to win a gold glove, it looks like he’ll at least be adequate.

The same can’t really be said for Johnny Gomes in left field. It gets ugly out there. Hopefully his offense will make up for it. He seems a better candidate to fill in at DH when Big Papi is on the DL, which will happen to start the season but hopefully won’t start a trend. Gomes can hit. But he was also part of transforming the club house. Victorino will play solid defense in right (or center if Ellsbury gets hurt, again). But how he’ll hit is still a mystery. They want loose guys and these guys seem to fit that bill. The 2004 Sox had Millar, Damon and Pedro to take the pressure off when the team was struggling. That is what was missing in September 2011. And last year.

Drew hasn’t done much thanks to a concussion. There is just something about Drews and Boston. But thankfully Iglesias’ visit to Pedroia this winter paid off in a better approach at the plate. His swing is much better and he’s making more contact and better contact (6 extra base hits so far (3/16)). This may give them the opportunity to trade Drew to the Cards now that Furcal is hurt. Time will tell.

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