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News » Boston Red Sox Roster Report 2009-04-02


Boston Red Sox Roster Report 2009-04-02


Boston Red Sox Roster Report 2009-04-02
The Red Sox have suffered few injuries this spring and appear to be in good shape to approach -- or surpass -- the 95 victories they achieved last season. The complete pitching staff -- starters and bullpen -- and overall team defense are significant strengths on an extremely well-rounded and deep ballclub. The lineup will be full of good hitters capable of grinding out at-bats and providing slugging percentage, but OF Manny Ramirez took some of the offense's sparkle with him to Los Angeles last summer.

ROTATION:

1. RHP Josh Beckett

2. LHP Jon Lester

3. RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka

4. RHP Tim Wakefield

5. RHP Brad Penny

ROTATION ANALYSIS: Beckett, Lester and Matsuzaka represent one of the best starting trios in all of big-league baseball in terms of youthful energy, on-field production and power-packed stuff. There's some concern about Matsuzaka's workload during the World Baseball Classic, but he impressed while showing off a heretofore unseen efficient side. Beckett is primed for a Cy Young Award type season after winning 12 games amid injuries last season. Penny will start the season in the No. 5 spot if he can remain healthy, but RHP Clay Buchholz was electric during an extended look in spring training. RHP John Smoltz is expected to join the team in June -- barring any setbacks -- and play the Schilling "big game" role for the Red Sox down the stretch.

BULLPEN:

RHP Jonathan Papelbon (closer)

LHP Hideki Okajima

RHP Ramon Ramirez

RHP Manny Delcarmen

RHP Takashi Saito

LHP Javier Lopez

RHP Justin Masterson

BULLPEN ANALYSIS: Building a bullpen used to be a challenge for Boston's executives, but they finally might have figured out this relief thing. The Red Sox bullpen is a collection of power arms and veterans who represent a clear strength on the team. Papelbon struggled at points this spring but is putting together one of the best resumes for a closer in major league history after three short seasons. Saito will help Papelbon tremendously if his right elbow remains stable, and he appeared to be healthy during a good spring. Okajima is an All-Star caliber left-handed reliever, and Ramirez and Delcarmen have swing-and-miss ability in the middle innings. Masterson has the versatility to swing between the starting rotation and bullpen as needed, and Lopez has found a niche as Boston's left-handed specialist.

LINEUP:

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2. 2B Dustin Pedroia

3. DH David Ortiz

4. 1B Kevin Youkilis

5. OF Jason Bay

6. 3B Mike Lowell

7. OF J.D. Drew

8. SS Jed Lowrie

9. C Jason Varitek

LINEUP ANALYSIS: Boston's Opening Day lineup should look similar to the team that pushed Tampa Bay to Game 7 in last season's ALCS. Lowell and Ortiz both appear to be healthy and capable of holding up their end of the bargain after collecting a combined 40 home runs and 162 RBI last season. Ortiz would threaten those numbers by himself during his prime offensive seasons, but both will need to hit in order to lengthen Boston's lineup.

Ellsbury remains a vital cog at the top of the lineup with his game-breaking speed and energetic playing style and must improve on last season's .336 on base percentage to keep the pressure on opposing pitchers. Offensive seasons similar to last year's MVP-worthy campaigns by Pedroia and Youkilis are going to be needed, particularly if Drew's back problems continue and Varitek doesn't regain his batting stroke. It wouldn't be shocking if -- without OF Manny Ramirez -- the Red Sox don't approach the 845 runs scored by last season's team.

RESERVES:

C George Kottaras

OF Brad Wilkerson

OF Rocco Baldelli

SS Nick Green

OF Brad Wilkerson

RESERVES ANALYSIS: Kottaras showed an ability to catch RHP Tim Wakefield's knuckleball, and that prompted the Red Sox to release C Josh Bard. The young catcher has some pop in his left-handed bat and makes a nice offensive complement to Varitek. Versatile Mark Kotsay will miss at least the first few weeks of the season after undergoing back surgery, and Wilkerson was brought aboard to give the squad depth in the interim.

Baldelli hasn't looked impressive during a spring where he's been used sparingly, and it's unknown how much he'll be able to offer off the bench. SS Julio Lugo will work his way back to health following surgery on his right knee, so his injury -- expected to keep him out the first few weeks of the season -- opens up an Opening Day roster spot for a utility player like Green.

ROOKIE WATCH: RHP Daniel Bard boasted a 1.99 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings pitched at Class AA last season and opened eyes when he hit 100-mph with his fastball this spring. The 23-year-old Bard was sent back to minor league camp before cut-down day but had 12 strikeouts and allowed no earned runs in 9 1/3 innings against big-league hitters. There's little doubt he'll be heard from in Boston this summer.

MEDICAL WATCH:

3B Mike Lowell (arthroscopic right hip surgery in October 2008) has resumed playing regularly in spring training games and is aiming to be ready for regular starting duty by Opening Day.

SS Julio Lugo underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on March 17 and is expected to miss the first two weeks of the regular season.

OF Mark Kotsay underwent January back surgery for a displaced disk in his back and he might be sidelined until sometime in April or May.

RHP John Smoltz (right shoulder surgery) threw 40 fastballs during his first bullpen session in late March and is expected to pitch for the Red Sox in June barring any setbacks.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 2, 2009

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