Dissecting Abraham’s Red Sox Opening Day Roster Projections


On what  has been a slow news day on the Red Sox front, I thought I would take the opportunity to dissect the Red Sox Opening Day roster projections as set forth by the Globe’s, Peter Abraham.

When you look at Pete’s 25-man roster there aren’t many surprises, as there shouldn’t be.

His lineup and bench look like this:

Lineup (9)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
David Ortiz DH
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Cody Ross LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Ryan Sweeney RF
Mike Aviles SS

Bench (4)
Kelly Shoppach C
Nick Punto INF
Darnell McDonald OF

The only area that I disagree with is Ryan Sweeney in right field and having Darnell McDonald on the bench.  There are still 21 games remaining in spring training, but if the season started tomorrow Bobby Valentine would be a fool to have Sweeney start ahead of McDonald based on spring training production alone.  The Sox are hoping that Sweeney can produce more power this year, something that may be asking a lot from a guy who has never hit more than six home runs.  , had more than 53 RBI or a SLG% greater than .407.  From that angle they are barking up the wrong tree.  I’m not saying McDonald will hit 30 homers, but if this spring is any indication, his bat is the one that has more production in it (at least for the start of the season).

A debate could be made for the shortstop position, but for the interest in time I’m going with Aviles to start the year, if nothing more than to give Igelsias some extra seasoning in AAA.

Once Carl Crawford returns then it will be a battle between Cody Ross and Darnell McDonald for right field and the extra bench spot will be filled.  For the time being let’s pencil in Pedro Ciriaco‘s name, even if it is for PR purposes.  He’s provided some exciting moments this spring and deserves some of the limelight.

I agree with the batting lineup that Abraham has and once Crawford returns then Bobby V will earn every penny he’s getting paid to try and figure that one out.

Abraham’s starting rotation:

Rotation (5)
LHP Jon Lester
RHP Josh Beckett
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Daniel Bard
LHP Felix Doubront

Much like the lineup, Pete’s rotation doesn’t have much to dispute.  If you had asked me a week ago I would have argued that either Andrew Miller or Alfredo Aceves should be the number five guy, but after watching Doubront last night against New York, he’s making a compelling case for himself.  That and the fact that Aceves is so valuable out of the bullpen and for spot starts and it may be Doubront’s to lose now.

For what it’s worth, I would have Josh Beckett be the Opening Day starter for two reasons.  The first, he was the Red Sox best starter for most of last year and the second, his ego and confidence needs a little boost from Bobby V. Well, maybe not his ego.  Lester can take the criticism that Beckett can’t and for that we need Josh to be sound of mind right from the beginning.  This simple designation could go a long way in ensuring that.

Pete’s bullpen projection:

Bullpen (7)
RHP Andrew Bailey
RHP Mark Melancon
RHP Alfredo Aceves
RHP Matt Albers
LHP Franklin Morales
RHP Michael Bowden
LHP Andrew Miller

The bullpen looks good other than I’m convinced that either Miller or Bowden won’t be around to see action much past April.  Many fans are calling for Miller’s walking papers and if he can’t prove otherwise in the next three weeks, he just might find himself kicking stones.  A possible deal for a starter could see either Bowden or Miller heading the other way and with Vicente Padilla making a strong push to stay with the big club, either one could be out-righted.

Potentially heading to AAA to start the year include Aaron Cook, Jesse Carlson, Ryan Lavarnway, Will Middlebrooks, Jose Iglesias, Ross Ohlendorf, among others.  I don’t have a problem with Lavarnway, Middlebrooks or the whiz Iglesias starting the year in Pawtucket, but I sure hope to see all three in a Red Sox uniform before September rolls around.  Trades appear to be imminent with this club and with the future talent showing they may be ready now, Ben Cherington has some difficult decisions ahead of him.

For now, Bobby Valentine has the un-envious task of having to figure out his roster.  A lot will change between now and April 5th, and while Abraham projects a realistic lineup, there are a couple areas that are left up for debate.  What are your thoughts?

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