Over the last year or so, I haven’t done a lot of blogging over here on the Intellectual Thicket, mostly because I’ve been busy with (a) being a junior faculty member and (b) blogging about volcanoes. However, whenever baseball season is around the corner, I start to get that itch to write/think/obsess about baseball, so I have to do something about it. Last year I joined way (as in waaaay) too many fantasy baseball leagues, which didn’t really end up being very productive. This year, I might try writing about baseball here on the Thicket instead. So, to steal liberally from Lookout Landing’s post on the state of the Mariners roster in 2011 (admittedly, a much less static target than the Boston Red Sox), I’ll look at the Sox for 2011.
Death-grip mortal locks – position players
- 1B Adrian Gonzalez
- 2B Dustin Pedroia
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
- CF Carl Crawford
- LF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH David Ortiz
This bunch was easy, except for maybe Ellsbury, whom I briefly hesitate to put as a mortal lock but then came to my senses.
Death-grip mortal locks – starting pitchers
- Jon Lester
- Josh Beckett
- John Lackey
- Clay Buchholz
So, not much drama in starters 1-4
Death-grip mortal locks – bullpen
- Jonathan Papelbon
- Daniel Bard
- Bobby Jenks
I suppose all three of these guys could take over each other’s roles, or possibly get dealt at some point, but none would conceivably be left off the Opening Day roster.
Battles – starting position players
- SS: Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie (and in the shadows Jose Iglesias): Tito has already said that Scutaro is the starter for Opening Day at SS, but after his shoulder troubles in 2010 where he ended up moving to 2B in September, you never know. I get the impression that Theo would love to have Jed Lowrie start at SS and Scutaro moved in a deal, but Theo can’t do everything (at least I think). Jose Iglesias likely needs more AAA seasoning in the hitting department, but hey, stranger things have happened.
- RF: J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, Ryan Kalish: You have to image that J.D. and Cammy are the top of the heap for RF – if only you could take all their working body parts and merge them into some sort of Frankenfielder, then we might be onto something. Now, if they both break down, which given their age/track record isn’t unimaginable, we might see the return of Ryan Kalish to start in RF. This is a walk year for both J.D. and Cameron, so hey, maybe they’ll find the fountain of youth.
- C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek (and in the shadows Mark Wagner): Going into Opening Day, you have to expect that the Sox will give Salty every opportunity to start, oh, maybe 5 days a week with ‘Tek someone’s personal catcher (Beckett?) It could have been a much more interesting positional battle if the Sox hadn’t lost Max Ramirez on waiver to the Cubs, but Theo love to rifle through players like so many used books that we barely knew Max existed.
Battles – starter
- The #5 slot: Diasuke Matsuzaka, Felix Doubront, Tim Wakefield: Nothing like an exciting battle for the 5th roster spot, eh? Again, considering the money involved, unless a trade happens, I would expect to see Daisuke as the #5, tantalizing/terrorizing us as much as he can. Hopefully, 2011 will allow me to see anyone on the Red Sox start a game I attend beyond Daisuke (unlike 2010). However, if Daisuke collapses or is moved, I might expect to see Felix in the #5 spot unless Tito gets nostalgic and slots in Wakefield.
Battles – bullpen
- LHP: Rich Hill, Felix Doubront, Adam Miller, Hideki Okajima, Randy Williams, some other guy who throws left handed: Theo is taking the “throw against wall/see what sticks” method for getting someone, anyone, to be an effective leftie out of the bullpen. Now, rather than spend money on this, Theo just has a bunch of hard and soft throwers that may or may not work. Curt Young, best of luck!
- Other bullpen arms (3): some combination of Matt Albers, Scott Atchinson, Robert Coello, Dan Wheeler, Jason Bergmann, Brandon Duckworth, Tim Wakefield: My hunch is that Dan Wheeler is close to a lock, followed by Matt Albers and Scott Atchinson. Wakefield is likely the longman.
Battles – Bench
- Utility Infielder: Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Yamaico Navarro : I suppose this isn’t too much of a battle considering the loser of the Scutaro/Lowrie SS fight will end up here.
- 4th OF: Mike Cameron, Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava: With Drew and Cameron sharing a spot, Cammy is likely a lock. The Sox will likely want Kalish to play fulltime, so he’ll be a AAA, leaving Reddick and McDonald to fight it out. Nava will likely be on the Providence Shuttle if needed too.
- Backup C: Jason Varitek, Mark Wagner: The backup job is ‘Teks, ideally to tutor Salty, but if Varitek goes down, Wagner is next.
- Utility: Drew Sutton, Nava, Reddick: Sutton is the most interesting here, although he is only a NRI but has a lot of versatility.
So, the roster looks like:
- Starting position players (9): Pedroia (2B), Drew/Cameron (RF), Crawford (CF), Youkilis (3B), Gonzalez (1B), Ortiz (DH), Saltalamacchia (C), Scutaro (SS), Ellsbury (LF)
- Starters (5): Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Buchholz, Matsuzaka
- Bullpen (7): Papelbon (CL), Bard, Jenks, Hill, Wheeler, Albers, Wakefield
- Bench (4): Varitek, Lowrie, McDonald, Cameron
There ya go. Less than 3 weeks until pitchers and catchers report!