While the Boston Red Sox front office and fans talk of making changes to the 2012 last place team, Dustin Pedroia is everything they want to keep on and off the field.
If new manager John Farrell decides to go back to the days of nominating a captain, Pedroia is the man for the job.
A three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Pedroia has become the foundation of the team and a fixture in the infield. He will once again have someone new to work with as part of the double-play combination. Heading into his seventh season as the starting second baseman, he will also see changes at the corner infield positions from last year’s Opening Day.
Pedroia is expected to be fully recovered from surgery on his right pinkie and will most likely slot second or third in the batting order. Last year he hit .290 with 65 RBI and 15 home runs. The team’s spark plug led the Red Sox with 163 hits, 81 runs scored and 20 stolen bases.
What more do I really need to say about Pedroia. We all know what he is and what we can look forward to in 2013. The ultimate dirt dog with the all-star numbers gives us hope that the team can win more than they lose.
As of now Mauro Gomez stands to be the starting first baseman by default and will likely bat near the bottom of lineup. With the trades of Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez, Boston was left with Gomez and James Loney, who came over in the trade with Los Angeles and has since signed with Tamp Bay this offseason, to play first.
In the long run, the Red Sox are better off for making the trades, but for now it depleted them at the first base position.
Gomez, who won the 2012 International League MVP award, played first, third and DH for a total of 37 games during his first year in the big leagues. Gomez hit .275 with a pair of homers and 17 RBI. With just two more hits (28) than strikeouts (26), he still has areas to improve.
Will Middlebrooks, who shot up Boston’s farm system to the top of their prospect list, was handed the Red Sox starting third baseman job, following the trade of Youkilis to clear the spot.
The 24-year-old was solid, but not overly impressive and dealt with injuries throughout the year. He batted .288 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI and an OPS of .835 in 75 games. He might have been better off dominating Triple-A pitching for the whole year, but it’s too late to go back now.
Middlebrooks is the unquestioned starter at the hot corner and can be slotted fifth in the lineup.
Going forward, Middlebrooks won’t give Boston much more than Youkilis did offensively and he will hurt them defensively, but the nine year age difference should imply that Middlebrooks is still improving and more durable.
The brother of J.D. Drew, Stephen Drew signed a deal to become the newest Red Sox shortstop.
In 2012 Drew struggled in Arizona, but returned to his normal production after an August 20 trade to the eventual AL West Champion Oakland Athletics. Over seven MLB seasons, the soon-to-be 30-year-old has a .265 career average with a .762 OPS and he averages 162 hits and 15 home runs per year.
With the top third of the batting order pretty much set, Drew could find himself hitting eighth or ninth for his new team.
Without an experienced shortstop, GM Ben Cherington and Farrell could’ve let prospects battle for the job. Their reluctance shows a lack of faith in the young talent and how much they coveted Drew. The Red Sox have been rumored to have interest in Drew for some time.
When Boston’s front office sets their eyes on a player, they usually get him. Hopefully for Red Sox Nation, this Drew has a better experience in Boston than is brother and Adrian Gonzalez, who were both rumored to be Red Sox targets well before their arrivals in Boston.
Prospects Jose Iglesias and Xander Bogaerts will help round out the group as backups, if they make the Major League roster. Pedro Ciriaco can also fill in for any infielder and play outfield as well.
Pending the signing of an infielder (maybe finalizing Mike Napoli’s deal) or the conversion of Ryan Lavarnway to play first, that is the Red Sox infield to be introduced for Opening Day on Apr. 1, 2013 in New York.
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