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Restoring the rosters: No. 8 – Boston

Sep 1, 2009, 4:39 PM EDT

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).

  1. B N - Sep 2, 2009 at 10:44 PM

    Looking at this and the Angels, as well as a few other lower ranked clubs that have been successful- I have come to this conclusion: Successful franchises don’t spend a lot of time developing outfielders. Which when you think about it and look at the free agent market, makes a lot of sense. Unless you are at the bottom of the barrel in payroll, there are plenty of FA or trade-available outfielders available on a yearly basis who can fill in spots. This is definitely interesting to see how teams draft and the kind of success you get from developing certain players versus others.
    To me, seems like building a good infield and an okay rotation are really keys to success. Might seem obvious, but on the other hand there is always a lot of attention showered on top OF prospects annually who may actually not be as big a factor in their team’s success as it seems (due to the ability to get reasonably-priced replacement at most times).

  2. Joey B - Sep 2, 2009 at 11:14 PM

    I agree, go with skill positions and pitching over OF and 1B types. Duquette, and many other GMs, just didn’t take the draft seriously enough. It’s no longer a 25-man game, it’s frequently 30 guys or more. And as often as you need guys like VMart, Wagner, etc., you really need a fully stocked minor league system.

  3. Zack K. - Sep 10, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    I could be wrong, but i thought youkilis was originally signed by Oakland.

  4. Zack K. - Sep 10, 2009 at 1:30 PM

    NVM. I am an idiot.

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