Start fielding homegrown prospects in 2014


It is time for Ben Cherington to announce that Xander Bogaerts is his starting SS in 2014.

ben cherryy2Although we have made the case to put Bogaerts at 1b now, so he can have his entire career to focus more on his hitting [http://fansidedblogs.net/app/?id=14&post_id=17244]. let’s consider a staged plan for his defensive position.

Anyone who has ever played Fantasy or Rotisserie baseball knows that SS is a premium position; there always seems to be a shortage of players who can “stick at short” and whose stick isn’t short; Cal Ripken, Jr. was a rare gem, who proved that a guy with a large, hitter’s frame, could remain agile enough to play the most critical defensive position on the field; yes, we can argue about the value of catchers another time.

We have promoted the concept that Ben Cherington’s “Next Great Red Sox Team” starts NOW.  Sox fans who must win at all costs and expect another World Series trophy in 2014 need to take a chill pill.  Forget that short term and see the big picture.

Sox fans need to accept that to create Ben’s “Next Great Red Sox Team,” they need to accept that 2014 will be a “growing pains” year, when the homegrown talent gradually filters into the roster at Fenway.  Sure, Ben will keep a few veterans and maybe sign a second-tier FA to support the Youth Movement, but he must commit to these younger players now.

So, you don’t sign Drew to a multi-year agreement @ $15M a year; ignore Scott “Bore Us” and admit the guy is a good defensive SS, but a .230 batter, who was 0-for a million in the Post-season, after he turned into Zombie Batter down the stretch.

If you are Cherington, you have to have the balls to begin fielding the players on your “Next Great Red Sox Team” NOW.

Put Bogaerts at SS for as long as he can play that premium position.

Bogaerts “At this point, I can’t imagine [not playing shortstop].”

Sox: “He’s given us no reason at this point to think he needs to move off of shortstop,” [Red Sox Farm Director Ben Crockett]

Find a FA Third baseman to step in if Middlebrooks cannot hack it.

Acquire a Super-Sub like Michael Young, Juan Uribe, Todd Frazier, Jerry Hairston, Jr., Jeff Baker, or Marco Scutaro.

With Pedroia as your infield anchor for the near future, let Bogaerts play SS and start Middlebrooks at 3b and wait for Garin Cecchini [22] to show what he can do at 3b in the AFL and how Deven Marrero [23] plays SS for the Portland Sea Dogs [AA].

The Sox may not have a starting 1b in their system with Travis Shaw [23, LHB] at AAA Pawsox and David Chester [24, RHB] at AA Portland, so you trade for one and let Nava and Carp platoon, until then.

Or, draft Kyle Schwarber: http://bosoxinjection.com/2013/09/13/drafting-1b-next-great-red-sox-team-kyle-schwarber/

Outfield?

Let Ellsbury sign a 7-year Gazillion dollar contract with Seattle and use the money for prudent FA buys and the farm system.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. has already had his “cup of coffee” at Fenway and it is time to show what he can do in CF now.

OF Corners?

Gold Glover Victorino is a no-brainer as your Opening Day starter in RF, but it is time to give Bryce Brentz [24, RHB] his trial by fire in RF and find out of Kalish [25, LHB] can hack it in LF.

Starting Pitchers

Peavy [32] and Dempster [36] are fading veterans and Lackey is [35] is aging; LHP Doubront needs to be worked into the rotation or traded.

Most baseball brains believe that pitchers hit their peak at age 25; it’s time to start phasing in the following starters into the rotation:

LHP, Henry Owens [21]

RHP, Matt Barnes [23]

RHP, Allen Webster [23]

LHP, Drake Britton [24]

RHP, Anthony Ranaudo [24]

RHP, Brandon Workman [25]

Closer

Is Rubby De La Rosa [24] the heir apparent to Koji Uehara [38]?

Is LHP, Henry Owens [21] the next “set-up” man?

CATCHER

Assuming Salty signs with the Rangers, the Sox have a huge hole at this position.

In an ideal world, switch-hitter Blake Swihart [21] continues to improve defensively [.988] and continues his positive hitting trend [.262/.298 and .278 combined BA] past High-A ball.  Note: His CS% improved from 31-42% from A to High-A level for a 2-year average of 37%.

But that leaves a gap until 2016 at starting catcher.

The venerable veteran David Ross is one of the best in MLB in handing pitchers and calling a game, but that makes him one of the best “back-up” catchers in MLB.

Likely Ben will attempt to sign FA Carlos Ruiz, who is marginally adequate on defense [CS 27%, .995 Fld. %] and is a career .274 hitter with little power, but Chooch will be 35 this January.

Ben can hope that Ryan Lavarnway [26] will be ready to take over as starting catcher in 2015, or that AAA prospect Christian Vazquez [23] will bust out.

If Cherington is hoping to sign a FA catcher for 2105, he’ll be disappointed with this list of oldies:

Ryan Doumit (34)
Ryan Hanigan (34)
Nick Hundley (31) – $5MM club option
Gerald Laird (35)
Russell Martin (32)
Jeff Mathis (32) – $1.5MM club option

CATCHER “OUT OF LEFT FIELD”?

In an ideal world, the Royals would be willing to trade future All-Star Salvador Perez [C] and DH Billy Butler to the Sox for “prospects,” but that is a very long shot.

CONCLUSION:

Sox fans need to be willing to take a Mulligan for 2014 and trade their need for instant gratification for back-to-back World Series trophies and let Cherington start to make the transition to his “Next Great Red Sox Team.”

Yes, not all the prospects will be ready in 2014 and some may never be ready for MLB, but it is time for Sox fans to be willing to suffer through some “growing pains,” as Ben sorts them all out to see just how many starting positions he can fill for the next decade with homegrown talent.

WHAT IS YOUR PLAN FOR THE 2014 SOX?

What is your plan for 2014?

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Tags: "Next Great Red Sox Team" Ben Cherington Xander Bogaerts

  • Nick

    I’m sorry, but this is a horrible article. You started it out by saying moving Bogaerts to first which makes absolutely no sense since he is completely capable of handling shortstop. Moving him to third would be much more logical, but why move a player away from a premium position just to improve his bat. Next you’re saying have Brentz play a corner outfield spot. Why do that let him have another year in the minors and keep Nava/Gomes or trade for Giancarlo Stanton which we could easily do. Trade Middlebrooks, Ranaudo, Webster, Brentz, and Brandon Workman. And you said Owens could be the next best setup man when he clearly can be a starter.

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  • John Fahrer

    Drew is a career .264 hitter, not .230. He did hit a home run in Game 6 of the WS and made great plays with his glove. He brought a lot more than Middlebrooks would have. A left side of the infield with Drew at SS and Bogaerts at 3B will be top notch. Especially if they were to go with an atrocious defensive catcher like Lavarnway behind the dish as you have suggested they also do.