Diving into the depths: Boston Red Sox

Leave a comment

This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Boston Red Sox
Rotation
1. Jon Lester
2. Josh Beckett
3. John Lackey
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
5. Clay Buchholz
6. Tim Wakefield
7. Michael Bowden
8. Junichi Tazawa
9. Boof Bonser
10. Gaby Hernandez
11. Fabio Castro
12. Kris Johnson
Wakefield won’t be happy if pushed to a bullpen role to start the season, but it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox creating room for him if everyone else is healthy. Injuries will likely creep up and sort these things out. Odds are that the team will also have need for Bowden in the rotation at some point.
Bullpen
1. Jonathan Papelbon
2. Hideki Okajima
3. Daniel Bard
4. Ramon Ramirez
5. Manny Delcarmen
6. Boof Bonser
7. Tim Wakefield
8. Joe Nelson
9. Brian Shouse
10. Scott Atchison
11. Dustin Richardson
12. Ramon A. Ramirez
13. Junichi Tazawa
14. Fernando Cabrera
15. Fabio Castro
16. Michael Bowden
17. Jorge Sosa
18. Edwin Moreno
The bullpen depth is flat-out ridiculous. Nelson, Atchison and the other Ramon Ramirez are average middle relievers, Shouse and Richardson are legitimate lefty specialists and both Cabrera and Castro have some upside if they can find opportunities. Unfortunately, no one from the group figures to make the team unless someone starts off on the disabled list.


Catcher
1. Victor Martinez
2. Jason Varitek
3. Dusty Brown
4. Mark Wagner
First base
1. Kevin Youkilis
2. Mike Lowell
3. Victor Martinez
4. Aaron Bates
Second base
1. Dustin Pedroia
2. Bill Hall
3. Jed Lowrie
4. Tug Hulett
Third base
1. Adrian Beltre
2. Mike Lowell
3. Bill Hall
4. Kevin Youkilis
Shortstop
1. Marco Scutaro
2. Jed Lowrie
3. Bill Hall
4. Tug Hulett
5. Gil Velazquez
Lowell is still around, but the Red Sox would almost surely prefer to change that prior to Opening Day. There won’t be nearly enough at-bats available to keep him content, even if the team did start to sit David Ortiz more frequently against left-handers.
Left field
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Jeremy Hermida
3. Josh Reddick
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Center field
1. Mike Cameron
2. Jacoby Ellsbury
3. Ryan Kalish
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Right field
1. J.D. Drew
2. Jeremy Hermida
3. Josh Reddick
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Designated hitter
1. David Ortiz
2. Victor Martinez
3. J.D. Drew
4. Mike Lowell
Hermida, Varitek and Hall would appear to be guaranteed spots on the bench. The fourth would have to go to Lowell if he’s still around and healthy. Otherwise, Hulett would seem to be the logical choice. Lowrie might yet be in the team’s long-term plans, but he needs at-bats after missing time due to wrist problems and he’ll probably get those in Triple-A.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.