Different views from the top
INF Pedroia's ranking varies
Backup catcher candidates (from left) John Flaherty, Ken Huckaby, and Josh Bard await their turn at fielding foul pops yesterday. (Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Baseball America released its top 100 prospects list for 2006, and Dustin Pedroia ranked 77th. Baseball Prospectus, meanwhile, released its top 50 rankings, and Pedroia's name could be found at No. 11, ahead of players such as the Mets' Lastings Milledge (No. 13), White Sox center fielder Brian Anderson (No. 31), and Boston's Jon Papelbon (No. 36) and Craig Hansen (No. 45).
Why the much better impression of Pedroia at Baseball Prospectus?
''Pedroia's long been a favorite of ours," said Will Carroll, an author of Baseball Prospectus. ''Our PECOTA projection system has him extremely high, both this year and last. We had him at 49 last year, and he exceeded our expectations.
''Since we focus more on who we think will have a valuable major league career, someone like Pedroia, who has a higher likelihood of getting and holding a starting job, has an advantage over someone like Milledge, who may have a higher upside but also has a riskier profile. Pedroia combines great baseball skills with a great projection.
''As for Papelbon, we view pitchers as so risky that only the most elite make our list."
Pedroia, with Portland and Pawtucket last season, played 97 games at second base and 16 at shortstop. However, with starting shortstop Alex González away at the World Baseball Classic for much of March, Pedroia should play a good deal on the left side this spring.
''I would think he would [play both positions]," manager Terry Francona said yesterday. ''But we might as well take advantage of short while we're going to be a little short there and let him move over and play."
Tampa Bay right field prospect Delmon Young ranked No. 1 on both prospects lists. That spot on the Baseball Prospectus list was occupied a year ago by Andy Marte, whom the Sox obtained for Edgar Renteria and dealt to Cleveland as the primary chip in landing Coco Crisp. This year, Marte fell to No. 7 on the Prospectus list. Baseball America ranked him 14th.
Last year, Wells didn't pitch until March 12, and logged only 17 spring innings, during which he allowed 15 earned runs. His agent, Gregg Clifton, said last night that although Wells continues to do most of his work indoors, ''I don't think there's any doubt in anyone's mind" that he will be ready to pitch come the start of the regular season.
''He's doing everything in his rehab to make sure he has no setbacks," Clifton said. ''His desire remains to finish his career on the West Coast. But paramount to any moves is making sure to be ready to pitch Opening Day."
It's highly unlikely that Wells would retire if he weren't dealt to a team closer to his San Diego-area home. However, the fact that Wells didn't stretch with his teammates during the Sox' first spring workout and didn't partake in Photo Day would suggest that he has made little effort to make himself a part of the team.
''What I can say," Clifton said, ''is David has always been a popular teammate, because his teammates know he's the ultimate gamer every fifth day. I think David's plan is to focus on getting ready for the season."
Translation: Even when he wants to be dealt, Wells is going to get ready at his own pace.
The same report indicated that the Nationals, in need of starting pitching, might look to deal for Bronson Arroyo or Matt Clement. Washington's most tradeable position players, according to the paper, are first baseman Nick Johnson and outfielder Ryan Church.
Arroyo, though, doesn't envision the Sox dealing him for a position player.
''Anything can happen, but I don't find it as being that valid," said Arroyo, signed this offseason to a three-year, $11.25 million deal. ''What's the worst-case scenario? We have seven [starters], right? Well, if I still think I'm one of the 12 best guys, I can still be on the club and pitch.
''Defensively, I don't think we need anybody else. [Unless] they want to go get somebody for me that's an unbelievable arm out of the pen, I don't see any other reason to make any other moves."