Saturday, March 15, 2008


Not a great deal of intrigue this year as the Sox close in on setting their Opening Day roster. Still, I feel compelled to write about it. As Kevin Thomas point outs, the Red Sox currently have 39 men in camp. They will take 30 men to Japan. By Opening Day they need to be at 25. I have taken the liberty of paring the roster down to 25 based on how it's most likely to shake out. No surprises.

David Aardsma
Josh Beckett
Craig Breslow
Clay Buchholz/Bartolo Colon
Bryan Corey
Manny Delcarmen
Craig Hansen
Lincoln Holdzkom
Jon Lester
Javy Lopez
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Hideki Okajima
Jonathan Papelbon
Kyle Snyder
Julian Tavarez
Mike Timlin
Tim Wakefield

Dusty Brown
Kevin Cash
George Kottaras
Jason Varitek

Chris Carter
Sean Casey
Alex Cora
Keith Ginter
Mike Lowell
Jed Lowrie
Julio Lugo
David Ortiz
Dustin Pedroia
Joe Thurston
Kevin Youkilis

Coco Crisp
J.D. Drew
Jacoby Ellsbury
Bobby Kielty
Brandon Moss
Manny Ramirez

Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Lester, Tavarez, Timlin, Delcarmen, Okajima, and Papelbon makes nine pitchers. Then you've got Buchholz or Colon filling the fifth spot in the rotation—Colon probably remains in Florida for a few weeks after the Sox skip town—and Breslow, Corey, Lopez and Snyder battling for one or two spots in the pen.

Snyder has a big edge here because of his ability to eat innings from the pen and start games. If the Sox want to hang on to a lefty specialist it's a battle betwixt Breslow and Lopez. It should be noted that Lopez is that irritating kind of 'lefty specialist' who kinda blows against lefties (.293 average in 2007). If the Sox say, "Eff a lefty specialist," and they still want to carry 12 pitchers, Corey (and his 1.17 spring training ERA) could get some serious consideration. Alas, Tito seems to trust Lopez in tight spots so I imagine the final spot in the pen is his to lose. And look at that! It's same bullpen (minus Gagné) the Sox ended the season with in '07. No complaints there.

Catchers and infielders are a straightforward affair. Same starters as a year ago—by the way, Lugo returned to the lineup today and had two hits in the Sox' 16-run attack against Cincinnati. On the bench Cash replaces Mirabelli (tough to be excited about a guy with a career .488 OPS), Casey replaces Hinske (nice upgrade), and Cora remains (solid).

Outfield is a little dicey. If the Sox go with 12 pitchers it means four outfielders. If Coco doesn't get dealt it's simple, he's the fourth outfielder. If Coco goes (more likely) I want Moss to get the job but I feel like if Kielty is healthy he'll be the fourth outfielder because he offers more flexibility defensively (Moss has yet to play an inning at center field in the majors). Kielty in center isn't a lovely thought but it'll do for brief periods and Drew would be the first option if Ellsbury goes down anyway. Also helping Kielty's cause, he is a switch hitter who is pretty strong against lefties (.296/.379/.882 for his career). Moss, a lefty, is the better hitter and has been strong at the plate this spring. Could go either way. My hunch is Kielty.

So here's your 25-man roster. I am assuming for now that if/when Coco is traded he will be dealt for a prospect. Why I am doing this? Because it's easier to finalize a 25-man roster that what. We shall update accordingly if/when Coco is dealt for a major league player.

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