Restoring the rosters: No. 8 - Boston
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).