Restoring the rosters: No. 8 – Boston

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
The Red Sox miss Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Trot Nixon, who would have proven pretty useful even in the twilights of their careers, but a first-rate infield and bullpen gets them the eighth spot here.
Rotation
Jon Lester
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Justin Duchscherer
Clay Buchholz
Justin Masterson
Bullpen
Jonathan Papelbon
Frank Francisco
Hideki Okajima
Daniel Bard
Manny Delcarmen
Rafael Betancourt
Ron Mahay
It’s difficult to rate the rotation when Matsuzaka has been a bust this year and Duchscherer has missed the entire season. In 2008, both were among the AL’s top pitchers. The Red Sox do have depth behind them in the form of veterans Anibal Sanchez, Carl Pavano and Jeff Suppan and prospects Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa.
The bullpen, though, is undeniably a strength. The career batting-average againsts for the top three relievers are .200, .222 and .213. Delcarmen and Betancourt are also under .240. I went with Mahay for the last spot over the aforementioned starters and Cla Meredith. He hasn’t pitched well this year, but he’s typically been a pretty reliable left-hander.
Interestingly, both Betancourt and Mahay were originally signed as position players by the Red Sox. Betancourt spent three years as an infielder in the system, while Mahay was an outfielder for five years.
Lineup
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Kevin Youkilis
3B Freddy Sanchez
LF David Murphy
DH Nomar Garciaparra
RF Brandon Moss
C Kelly Shoppach
Bench
INF Jed Lowrie
INF David Eckstein
OF Matt Murton
C Dusty Brown
The Pedroia-Hanley-Youkilis combination in the middle of the order would be a site to behold, but the Red Sox scored fewer points for their outfield than any other team ranked this high and the DH spot was another major problem. Garciaparra was really the only option, and perhaps there’s still a chance he could post an 800 OPS if he’s not constantly getting hurt playing the infield. Moss gets the nod in right for now, since he is a quality defensive outfielder. Murton would still play over him against lefties. By next year, Josh Reddick could prove to be the better player.
Summary
While Dan Duquette doesn’t deserve the shunning he’s received since being ousted as Boston’s general manager, his strengths didn’t lie in developing talent. What intriguing players the Red Sox did produce then usually made their marks elsewhere. The farm system has bounced back in a big way under Theo Epstein, and it’s currently churning out legitimate players about as frequently as any in baseball. What makes it even more impressive is that the team hasn’t had a pick in the top half of the first round since 1998 (Adam Everett, 12th).

Stephen Strasburg unlikely to pitch in the NLDS

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals walks off the field after an injury in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.

Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.

The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.

A.J. Cole fined, suspended five games for throwing at Jung Ho Kang

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Home plate umpire Jordan Baker ejects A.J. Cole #22 of the Washington Nationals in the third inning during the game at PNC Park on September 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
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Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.

Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.

Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.