It looks like the rosters for the Red Sox organization are close to being finalized. Chris Carter will begin the season as the back-up 1B/OF for Boston and Nick Green will serve in the role of back-up infielder. Jeff Bailey was the tough luck loser, being sent back to the PawSox.
Carter will need to make the most of his opportunity if he wants to stick with the club when Mark Kotsay returns to action in early May. If he does impress, the Sox may very well have a difficult decision to make.
In terms of Green, he will likely only stay with the club until Julio Lugo returns from knee surgery. At that time we should see Green patrolling the infield at McCoy.
You can add righthander Rocky Cherry’s name to the list of veteran pitchers who may call the McCoy Stadium bullpen home in 2009.
Picked up earlier this months as a minor league free agent after being released by the Orioles, the 29 year-old Cherry will begin his seventh professional baseball season with the PawSox. Cherry has a 40 game Major League resume, with the Orioles and Cubs. In that span he has a record of 1-4 with a 5.77 ERA.
Originally signed by the Cubs after being selected in the 14th round of the 2002 draft, Cherry began his career as a starter but was moved to the bullpen in the 2006 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Cherry is one of those pitchers with solid minor league numbers who could not carry that success up to the Majors. He has a creer minor league record of 14-13 with a respectable 3.73 ERA. Last year at Norfolk Cherry was 0-1 aith a 2.89 ERA.
Scouts put Cherry’s fastball at the low to mid 90mph range with a plus slider. He has had command issues in the past, but last year only yielded 9 walks in 37.1 innings witt the Tides.
1B/C Sandy Madera split his time last year riding the shuttle between Portland and the PawSox. 2009 may be the same.
Madera was reccomended to the Red Sox by David Ortiz. He was acquired last April after he started the season with New Jersey in the independent CanAm League.
The 28 year-old Madera is no stranger to organized minor league baseball. Undrafted, Madera has seen minor league action with the A’s, Yankees, Rockies, and Orioles organizations since 2000.
The Red Sox signed Madera because of his potential at the plate. In 79 games for Portland and Pawtucket last season Madera batted .292 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI’s.
Originally signed as a catcher, Madera played first base and DH for Portland and Pawtucket in 2008. Reports from Fort Myers this spring indicate that the Red Sox may be giving Madera another shot behind the plate. Scouting reports indicate that Madera needs to improve his defense. Putting him back behind the plate may be an attempt by the Sox to make Madera more comfortable defensively.
The 2008 PawSox did not have a dedicated closer. RHP Mike James may be in the mix for the job in 2009.
Drafted in the 28th round by the Red Sox in 2004, the 27 year-old James has 64 saves in five minor league seasons. He earned 25 and 22 saves respectively for Wilmington and Portland in 2006 and 2007. James has also been consistent during his minor league career in keeping runners from scoring. In the last four years his ERA is a respectable 3.22.
James possesses a fastball in the low to mid 90mph range with an above average change-up and curveball. Command has been an issue with James in the past. With all those pluses and minuses, James will have the opportunity to make strides on the Triple A level.
Photo courtesy Portland SeaDogs
With the sidelining of Julio Lugo to injury, IF Nick Green will likely start the season with the Red Sox. But expect him to soon bring his versatility to McCoy.
Signed as a minor league free agent in Januray, the 30 year-old Green is another one of those veterans who can play multiple infield positions. He can also put in spot duty in the outfield and serve as DH.
Drafted in the 32nd round of the 1998 draft by the Atlanta Braves, Green has had Major League tours of duty with the Braves, Rays, Yankees, and Mariners. In 275 Big League games Green has averaged .240 with 10 homers and 59 RBI’s.
In 2008 Green played 112 games for Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He batted .233 with 12 homers and 50 RBI’s for the Yankees.
Green has made the most of his non-roster invitation to Red Sox spring training, impressing the coaching staff with his offensive and defensive skills. He will serve as the team’s utility infielder until Lugo returns.
Photo courtesy USA Today
One of the many veteran off-season moves by the Red Sox expected to make an impact in Pawtucket is that of outfielder Paul McAnulty.
The 28 year-old lefthanded hitting McAnulty was signed this past November as a minor league free agent after spending the first seven years of his professional career in the Padres organization.
Considered a solid hitter with average power, McAnulty spent parts of the last four seasons with the Padres. In a total of 124 Big League games with San Diego McAnulty has batted .208 with 5 home runs and 21 RBI’s.
His call-ups to the Padres appeared warranted as McAnulty has put up some impressive numbers in the minor leagues. Over his last four seasons in Triple A Portland of the Pacific Coast League, McAnulty has batted .315 with a total of 42 home runs and 187 RBI’s in 279 games.
McAnulty primarily plays left field and has had spots at first and third base as well as DH. Scouts say McAnulty has a below average outfield arm and is considered slow on the base paths.
Expect McAnulty to get a considerable amount of playing time in McCoy’s left field, sharing that spot with Chris Carter. He will also likely see time in the DH spot.
Photo courtesy sandiego.com
One of the faces likely to be part of the PawSox rotation in 2009 will be that of righthander Enrique Gonzalez.
Signed to a minor league contract this past December, the 26 year-old Gonzalez is another one of those pitchers picked-up by Boston who has Big League experience. He ppeared in 27 Major League games with the Diamondbacks and Padres (18 as a starter), with a combined 4-7 record with a 5.96 ERA.
Gonzalez spent parts of the last three seasons in Triple A, with Portland and Tuscon of the Pacific Coast League. In that span he posted a record of 15-15 with a 4.80 ERA.
Scouts say Gonzalez possesses a fastball in the mid-90′s with decent command. He also has an above average slider, change-up and curve.
Expect Gonzalez to be part of the PawSox rotation along with the likes of Charlie Zink, Davern Hansack, and Michael Bowden.
Photo courtesy about.com
The current numbers game does not favor OF Sean Danielson. But you may still see him play some outfield for the PawSox in 2009.
The 26 year-old undrafted free agent acquired by the Sox from the Cardinals in the 2007 trade of Joel Pineiro will be fighting for playing time in Pawtucket with the likes of the more expereinced Chip Ambres, Jonathan Van Every, Chris Carter, Paul McAnulty, and Jeff Corsaletti.
Danielson spent 2008 between Portland and Pawtucket. In 105 total games played he batted .278 with 1 homer and 23 RBI’s.
The Red Sox attraction for Danielson appears to be for his speed and his ability to play all three outfield positions. He stole 25 bases last season gets to just about any ball in the outfield. He also possesses a strong throwing arm.
The only realistic role Danielson could play for a Big League club would be as a defensive replacement or pinch runner in the late innings of a game.
Photo courtesy St. Louis Cardinals
RHP Marcus McBeth is expected to be back in the PawSox bullpen in 2009. He first saw action with the club last late last season after the Red Sox acquired the 28 year-old righthander off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.
The Oakland A’s had high hopes for McBeth when they drafted him in the fourth round of the 2004 draft. He spent a little over four seasons in the A’s organization, advancing to Triple A at the end of the 2006 season.
After beginning 2007 with the A’s, he was acquired by the Reds and found himself in the Cincinnati bullpen by the end of the season. In 23 relief appearances for the Reds McBeth was 3-2 with a 5.95 ERA.
McBeth struggled with Triple A Louisville to begin the 2008 campaign, going 1-1 with a 6.20 ERA before being placed on waivers. For the PawSox last season McBeth was 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 4 games.
McBeth has a fastball in the low 90 mph range with a solid change-up and slider. For him to advance past Pawtucket McBeth needs to consistently gain command of all his pitches.
Photo courtesy Cincinnati Reds
Following the release of Josh Bard, the Red Sox and PawSox catching situations appear to be more clear. George Kottaras may have earned himself a spot in Boston. Carlos Maldonado may have done the same in Pawtucket.
The 30 year-old Maldonado is another one of the many veterans the Sox signed this offseason to provide leadership and expereince in the PawSox clubhouse. He was originally signed by the Mariners in 1996 and also had stints in the Astros, White Sox, and Pirates organizations. He broke into the Big Leagues in 2006. In 21 games with the Pirates Maldonado batted .163 with 2 homers and 4 RBI’s.
Over the last three seasons Maldonado spent most of his time with the Pirates’ Triple A affiliate in Indianapolis, where he averaged .250 with a total of 10 homers and 82 RBI’s.
Scouts consider Maldonado a good defensive catcher with a below average bat and below average speed. He should be in the catching mix in Pawtucket with Dusty Brown getting a majority of the playing time.
Photo courtesy Al Behrman