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Predicting the Red Sox roster, version 1

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 27, 2013 08:00 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Now that the workouts are over and the games have started in spring training, let's take a shot at predicting the Red Sox Opening Day roster.

ROTATION (5)
LHP Jon Lester
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Ryan Dempster
LHP Felix Doubront
RHP John Lackey

Breakdown: Now that Buchholz and Doubront have been scheduled for their first starts, the picture is pretty clear. John Farrell has his starters lined up and in their five-day routines. Only some sort of injury could change this before Opening Day. Doubront does not have options, so even pitching poorly this spring wouldn't change much. He'll get the benefit of the doubt based on last season. If somebody does get hurt, Alfredo Aceves, Franklin Morales, Allen Webster and Steven Wright are lined up as depth.

BULLPEN (7)
RHP Joel Hanrahan
RHP Andrew Bailey
RHP Junichi Tazawa
RHP Koji Uehara
LHP Franklin Morales
LHP Andrew Miller
RHP Clayton Mortensen

Breakdown: This is the toughest unit of the team to predict because there are 10 legitimate candidates. LHP Craig Breslow seems like a candidate for the disabled list based on his being shut down from throwing. RHP Daniel Bard still has options and probably needs to prove himself before he can be trusted again. That leaves either Mortensen or Aceves for the final spot. Farrell seems to really like Mortensen but Aceves is more talented and has more experience. The question is how much eccentric behavior are the Sox willing to put up with?

Just a guess, but the Sox could be hoping Aceves pitches well in the WBC so they can trade him for something more than the bag of rocks they would get now. The other option would be sending Tazawa back to the minors. But if the idea is to win, he should stay if he pitches reasonably well this spring. He has some of the best stuff on the team. The Red Sox need a good start more than they need to avoid exposing middle relievers to waivers.

LINEUP (9)
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
3B Will Middlebrooks
LF Jonny Gomes
RF Shane Victorino
SS Stephen Drew
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Breakdown: It remains safe to assume that Ortiz and Napoli will be ready to go by Opening Day. Beyond that, no positions are remotely open. These are the starters, barring injury or something really unexpected. There's not enough power in the outfield, especially against righthanded pitching. But that was the tradeoff to get a better glove in right field in Victorino and the magic team-building character of Gomes.

BENCH (4)
C David Ross
1B-LF Mike Carp
2B-SS-3B Pedro Ciriaco
RF-CF-LF Ryan Sweeney

Breakdown: For now, we'll stick with the safe selections. Ross is a lock for the bench with Ryan Lavarnway getting an unwelcome trip to Pawtucket. Beyond that, there is fevered competition for the various roles. Lyle Overbay, Daniel Nava or even Mark Hamilton could grab the 1B-LF job. But Carp probably offers the most upside. Brock Holt could beat out Ciriaco. And the extra outfielder could be somebody other than Sweeney, although keeping Jackie Bradley Jr. makes no sense unless he starts.

There is really no reason to get too worked up about the bench guys. These are largely interchangeable pieces.

That's what we have so far. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.

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