Red Sox OF in 2012?
posted at 5/13/2011 7:04 PM EDT
Admittedly it's a little early to start looking towards next year for the casual observer, but many assumptions have flown out the window so far with regards to the 2012 OF. LF and CF seem locked up with Crawford and Ells. At one point it was at least possible that Ells could be traded following this season, but now it would create even more problems than it could fix unless the player the Sox received was a Colby Rasmus/Justin Upton type (obviously Ells wouldn't be the only player involved), still this hardly seems like a possibility so let's assume that Ells is a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2012, manning CF. The big question is who will be starting in RF.
Ryan Kalish - Kalish was the odds on favorite to win this job either mid-way through 2011 or to start 2012 once Drew's deal is up. He is currently rehabbing a torn labrum and will likely require surgery after this season, if not sooner. I can't see the Sox throwing him into the starting RF role coming off of surgery. He would likely spend significant time in the minors in 2012 prior to a call up.
Juan Carlos (JC) Linares - JC quickly became a fan favorite in spring training. He has yet to show the plate discipline preferred by the Red Sox while in the minor leagues, although he showed good discipline in Cuba. JC started to make strides in this respect in 2011 drawing 4 walks in 17 games (compared to 1 walk in 17 AFL games and 0 walks in 13 AA games in 2010). With a solid 2011, JC may have had a chance to be a bridge to Kalish in 2012, dropping into a 4th OF role once Kalish was promoted, but JC will now miss the rest of the 2011 season following ankle surgery.
Josh Reddick - The much hyped OF has been consistently inconsistent at AAA, although his current production looks promising with 9 HR's on the young season and a line of .252/.349/.543 while showing improved patience at the plate (20 BB's to 24 K's in 33 games. Is this just another hot streak for Reddick, or has he finally figured things out? If he's finally figured things out, he has potential to be a major contributor in 2012.
Yamaico Navarro - An infielder throughout his time with the Red Sox organization, he had recently moved to the OF prior to hitting the DL with a strained oblique. He had been mashing this year with a line of .329/.436/.612 in 23 games. I haven't seen enough of him in the OF to judge how well he would do in RF at Fenway, but he could be an intriguing option going forward as a utility player with his ability to play all over the infield and potentially in the OF. He could potentially become a stop-gap RF for 2012, but that depends heavily on his defensive adjustment to the OF in 2011.
Honorable mention - Alex Hassan and Che-Hsuan Lin.
Potential FA targets:
There aren't many good fits on the FA market for the Sox if they look to go that route.
JD Drew - Obviously we know what we would be getting with Drew, but there are 2 major questions: 1, would 1 year be enough to bring him back? 2, Is he going to retire? (He has already hinted at retirement after the season)
Carlos Beltran - He could be an intriguing possibility on a 1 year deal, especially if he's only being relied on for half of the year.
Aside from those two options, I don't see much in the way of FA's who would sign a 1 year deal and be effective for Boston. Obviously this could change as the season progresses (David DeJesus may be looking for a pillow contract if he continues to underperform in Oakland).