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The Red Sox outfield has the chance to be the heart of the 2013 Red Sox. Led by Jacoby Ellsbury, this group features newcomers Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino, and possibly new acquisition Mike Carp.
Show me what you got, pretty boy. Sure, we’ve all gotten drunk and screamed those very words at our neighbor’s dog, but right now I’m completely sober and screaming it at Ellsbury. This kid could be the Sox franchise, right there with Pedroia. He has all the talent in the universe to be a top-notch, perennial All-Star. Remember the year he placed second for AL MVP? He put up some incredible numbers. He mixed power and speed and was a genius in center field. In 2012, he was hurt. He really struggled to stay healthy and played in only 74 games. His contract is up at the end of the season (if you haven’t heard) and Jacoby Ellsbury’s future is going to be the game within the game. If he stays healthy, I’m predicting a .300/25/88 line with 30 stolen bases. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that a healthy, clear-minded Ellsbury can put up those numbers.
But here’s the catch, half of those numbers could very well be for another team. If the team is in the tank in July, he’s gone. I just have inkling that the Sox won’t let him go to free agency and end up with nothing. That is, if the team is in a horrible situation. If things are going good, he stays, but then the real games begin. I would really like the Sox to get a deal done with Jacoby soon, but he’s a Boras guy (which is nowhere near as cool as being a Paul Heyman guy) and we all know how he does business. He’ll make the Red Sox pay with no hometown discounts.
For now, Ellsbury is being polite about his contract, and that’s just the type of guy he is. He’s not going to pull a Pedro or a Manny and moan about it. He’ll let Boras do the moaning. As far as Ellsbury’s 2013 on the field goes – if he stays healthy – he’s an all-star, simple as that. And he’ll be wearing a Red Sox hat during the mid-summer classic, that’s for sure. I’m just not certain on what hat he’ll be wearing during the playoffs.
I don’t know why the Sox decided to not re-sign Smashing Cody Ross and signed Jonny Gomes in his place. They are very much the same type of hitter. They are dead-pull, lefty abusers, who draw walks every other decade. Oh, yeah, and both are considered “average” or “just a tick under average” fielders. This is a polite way of saying that they suck at doing half their job. I like Cody. I did think that he was basically a DH with a glove, which is exactly what Gomes is going to be. He started more games at DH than in the outfield while playing for the A’s. Because Ross wanted more years, the Sox now have Mr. Gomes, the brand new left fielder, for the next two. So what to expect? He’s going to hit the ball well at Fenway. Last year he hit 18 home runs and batted .262 while playing in the enormous Oakland, MacAfee, and Long John Silver’s field. Like many right-handed hitters before him, he’ll certainly take advantage of that overpriced tourist trap’s petite dimensions. It’s almost a given that he will be facing every lefty pitcher and sitting out most righty pitchers. Against left-handed pitchers in his career, Gomes has hit .284 with 50 homers, 154 RBIs and .894 OPS in 934 at-bats. Against a right-handed pitchers, Gomes has hit .223 with 86 homers, 257 RBIs and .732 OPS in 712 at-bats. It all sounds pretty logical to me.
He’ll likely be platooning with Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish. So depth-wise, the Sox have a great outfield rotation; Farrell certainly has a lot of options to work with, and managers like that. They like to have a lot of moving parts and players that they can switch out and create different match-ups. It helps win ballgames. As far as what we should expect from these players, it’s pretty simple: opportunity. Which one of these players can make the best of an opportunity when given to them?
As of right now, Nava is most likely going to get the most opportunities due to Kalish’s surgery. Kalish might not play for a while and even when he finally does, he’ll have to take it pretty slow. I think that he is the true fourth outfielder of the future, but because he’s in Fort Myers rehabbing and not on the field, that puts Nava in the top spot as the fourth outfielder. I’m not big on Nava, but expect him to be very useful in situations that require good defense.
Here’s a guy that has so many people talking. And unfortunately, they’re calling him a huge mistake. I like Victorino. I think the “flyin’ Hawaiian” has been a great player for a while and I would love nothing more than for him to shut the critics up. I understand that his career has been in a funk as of late and he’s a little older now too, but I think Fenway and Boston will spark his drive. Here’s a guy who can play in a rough city. Unlike Crawford, who didn’t play in a cutthroat, do or die or get batteries thrown at you city, Victorino is used to a rough environment. The 32-year-old outfielder is coming on to the team with a lot on his plate.
He already has that “overpaid” tag (hint: they’re all overpaid) attached to him in some minds, so being effective early and having big games early is going is going to seem like a must, but it’s not and that’s not the type of player he his anyway. He’s speedy, stolen bases, triples, doubles, some pop and can get into scoring position with ease. His job will be to enhance those around him.
Give Ortiz someone to drive in, get on base and held distract the pitcher. Also, he can play some great defense. He’s an easy fan favorite- heart, hustle and a nickname.
He had a strange year in 2012. He set a career high in stolen bases with 39, but everything else took a dive right off a cliff. His .255 average, for one, was twenty points below his career average. So, a bounce-back season is in order.
He’ll most likely bat second in the order in-between Ellsbury and Pedroia. If you can’t get something done between those two guys, then it’s time to look for a new gig. He’s in a great spot and hopefully he takes full advantage of it. If not, he’s in for a long summer.