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Boston Red Sox: Projections for the Starting Lineup in 2014

With a brand new World Series championship banner hanging on Yawkey Way, the Boston Red Sox have some pretty big shoes to fill as we move towards the 2014 MLB season.

This year, fans will be treated to an injection of youth with Xander Bogaerts likely taking over as the everyday shortstop and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia took his talents to South Beach and veteran backstop A.J. Pierzynski has been brought in to fill the void.

To get the closest and most accurate projections possible, the following statistics were compiled and compared, ultimately creating an equation to help determine how each player will perform in 2014.

The stats consist of basic offensive numbers: games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and batting lines.

Generally, to reach a conclusion on each stat, players were evaluated on their performances against every team the Red Sox will face in 2014. Those figures were compared to players’ career numbers, as well as other variables, such as home-versus-away numbers.

These are the results. 

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Boston Red Sox: Projections for the Starting Lineup in 2013

The Boston Red Sox have undergone substantial changes in the offseason. With such an influx of new talent, predicting how well the starting nine will do in 2013 is somewhat daunting.

This year, fans can expect a healthy David Ortiz, Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury. They will also welcome newcomers like Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew to the everyday lineup.

Suffice to say, things are looking different in Boston these days.

With so many happenings in the Hub, trying to pin down exactly how each player will perform in 2013 is extremely difficult.

To get the closest and most accurate projections possible, the following statistics were compiled and compared, ultimately creating an equation to help determine how each player will perform in 2013.

The stats looked at are basic offensive numbers: games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and batting average.

To reach a conclusion on each stat, players were evaluated on performance against every team the Red Sox will face in 2013. Those figures were compared to players’ career numbers, as well as other variables, such as home-versus-away numbers.

These are the results. 

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Is Rafael Soriano the Nationals Final Piece to a 2013 World Series Title?

The Washington Nationals made news today having signed the best free agent pitcher on the market: Rafael Soriano.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was the first to report (via Twitter) that the Nationals had reached an agreement with Soriano for two years and $28 million.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports Soriano is now the highest paid relief pitcher in all of baseball. His $14 million average annual salary is second only to Mariano Rivera’s $15 million per season from 2010 through 2012.

Now with Soriano in the fold the Nationals have arguably the deepest bullpen in all of baseball. The team already had Tyler Clippard (37 saves in 2012) and Drew Storen in line to close out games in 2013.

The addition of Soriano gives Washington a man whom had 42 saves last season for the New York Yankees and in his last full season as a closer in 2012, 45 saves with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The obvious question, therefore, is: is Rafael Soriano the Nationals final piece to win a World Series in 2013?

The immediate answer is simply this: it can’t hurt their chances.

Soriano has proven himself to be a top-tier closer and will convert most of his save opportunities. He only blew four saves with the Yankees in 2012 and three with the Rays in 2010.

As a setup man he provided 23 holds for the Yankees in 2011.

That type of efficiency is extremely valuable to any team and now the Nats have an embarrassment of riches in the pitching department.

Clearly paying that much money automatically makes Soriano the closer and moves Storen and Clippard down in the depth chart.

Storen, historically has a markedly better ERA when pitching in the seventh inning than the eighth, as he owns a 0.56 ERA in his 22 career games pitching in the seventh inning versus 48 career games pitching in the eighth inning where he owns a 4.04 ERA.

Clippard on the other hand has fairly similiar statistics when pitching in the seventh and eight innings. Lifetime he owns a 2.43 ERA in 92 games pitching in the seventh while owning a 2.94 ERA in 140 games pitching in the eighth.

Logically, the order of the bullpen should be Storen, Clippard and Soriano. 

Storen had 10 holds and one blown save in 2012 while Clippard had 13 holds and five blown saves.

According to Bill James’s projections on FanGrapshs website, Storen was projected to have 33 saves next season while Clippard would add 14.

Interestingly enough, James only projected Soriano to have two saves, likely acting more as a setup man than a closer.

Clearly that has all changed now.

The Nationals had the most wins in all of baseball last season with 98 and had the second best team ERA with a 3.33, behind only the Tampa Bay Rays.

While there is little that a team can do to truly improve upon a 98 win season, the Nationals may have just done that.

Consider this, when the Nats lost their National League Division Series to the St. Louis Cardinals the team gave up 13 runs through five games in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings combined. 

While they were outscored 32-16 in the series, imagine if the bottom third of each game could have been reeled in with a stronger bullpen?

It is obvious that the front office viewed this as a priority and acted upon it as such.


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MLB Trade Rumors: Seattle Mariners Should Trade for Michael Morse

With Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post reporting that the Washington Nationals have reached an agreement to bring back free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, it feels like an appropriate time to speculate what the team’s next move might be.

That move should involve trading Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners.

According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are already speaking to 5-6 teams regarding Morse.

Rosenthal points out that Morse will earn $7 million this season and then will be a free agent.

While the Mainers could easily begin the season with Justin Smoak at first base, Morse represents a fairly significant upgrade.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted a list of potential suitors for Morse that includes the Orioles, Rays, Yankees, Rangers, Phillies, Mets and Indians along with the Mariners.

Needless to say, there is stiff competition.

Rosenthal goes on to report that Morse strongly opposes being a DH wherever he ends up playing.

While he is poor defensively, according to owning a -21.9 career UZR and an .882 RZR, Rosenthal points out that the Mariners have shown that they are more focused on offense over defense after having just signed Raul Ibanez and trading for Kendrys Morales.

Morse owns a lifetime .295/.347/.492/.839 batting line which stands out as somewhat above average.

However, when looking at his career performances playing in Cleveland, New York, Philly, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Seattle, Morse absolutely rakes at Safeco Field.

In 58 career games, he posted a .309/.382/.441/.822 line with 14 extra base hits and 25 RBI.

The only other comparable landing spot is Philadelphia. While having only played there 28 times, he owns a lifetime .353/.411/.667/1.077 line with 6 extra base hits and 13 RBI.

The Mariners, short of the Morales trade and Jason Bay signing, have really done little to obtain the talent they’ve sought this winter.

When given a full-time opportunity to play, Morse can be an excellent offensive option. In 2011, he played 146 games for the Nationals, starting most of them as Adam LaRoche was injured and just played 43 games.

That season Morse posted a 303/.360/.550/.910 batting line with 31 home runs, 36 doubles and 95 RBI.

While he is no Josh Hamilton, with numbers like that Morse would be a fine silver medal for the Mariners.

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MLB Free Agency: Examining the Adam LaRoche/Mike Napoli Debate

Somehow this winter Mike Napoli, a man who has played 511 of his 727 career games as a catcher, is being revered as a free-agent first baseman.

Either that is a shining example of how versatile of a player Napoli is, or an indictment on how poor the free-agent market is in terms of first basemen this winter.

If you chose the latter, you’re correct.

The Boston Red Sox have already deemed Napoli worthy of a three-year and $39 million contract. Well, sort of.

I should say that they’ve deemed a healthy Mike Napoli worthy of such a contract.

In recent weeks, questions have arisen surrounding the health of his hip, specifically, the pen has yet to meet paper in four weeks because the Red Sox want language in the contract to protect them should Napoli become sidelined due to a preexisting hip injury.

While those contract negotiations have been running at a snail’s pace, the Red Sox have been kicking the tires on other first base options, specifically Adam LaRoche, as described by ESPN Boston.

Don’t worry Red Sox Nation, Napoli is still a priority, though.

Who then would represent a better option for a team like the Red Sox?

Let’s take a closer look.

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Power Ranking the Top 25 MLB Free-Agent Signings

It’s the Holiday season and several Major League Baseball teams have been busy shopping.

Who made out the best?

While Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano are some of the few lingering free agents on the market who could have a tremendous impact on whichever team they land with, they are all non-factors in this list.

Here is a power ranking of players who have been signed so far this winter with a break down of what each team will be getting for their money.


* All contracts are given with the buyout year configured in with no mention of any team options. For example, you’ll see Hisashi Iwakuma signed for two years at $14 million, which represents two seasons at $6.5 million per with a $1 million buyout.

**There is no mention of Mike Napoli and his deal with the Boston Red Sox because the deal has yet to be finalized; therefore, Napoli is still considered a free agent.

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MLB Trade Speculation: Players That Could Be Traded by Opening Day

The big dogs are finally off the market.

That means the rest of the hot stove dominoes will begin to fall. That could be as remaining free-agent signings or via trade for many teams.

While we have already witnessed some large trades take place this winter, there is nothing that says the trade market is anywhere near cooling off.

Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle are all acclimating to life north of the boarder, having been part of a drastic trade that took place between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays earlier this offseason.

Longtime Texas Ranger Michael Young, a seven-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, has found a new home this winter via trade, as has National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

Here is a peak at some other names that may find themselves in new laundry come the 2013 season.

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MLB Free Agency: What Adding Shane Victorino Could Mean to the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has certainly proven himself this winter as being a man of discipline.

Well, thus far anyway.

In signing David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli there has been one consistent theme: overpay for shorter contracts while filling a need.

The Red Sox gave free agent catcher Ross two years and $6.2 million to be a back up; or so it seems.

They followed that move up by signing Gomes to a two-year $10 million contract, which had some fans scratching their heads. For all intents and purposes, Gomes will likely be a fourth outfielder. Many fans have been clamoring to Boston sports radio, calling for the team to bring back Cody Ross.

Reportedly, Cody Ross is looking for a three-year deal in the ballpark of $25 million—a price the team has yet to cough up for the slugger.

By adding Mike Napoli to the mix, once again the team likely overpaid, giving him a three-year deal worth $39 million. However, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports had reported, Napoli wanted four years. 

By overpaying Napoli, they got the player they wanted at the length of contract in which they’re comfortable.

Now, according to a tweet by The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox are the front runners for Shane Victorino.



Should the Red Sox land Victorino, they’ll be getting exactly the type of player Cherington has been looking for: a right fielder that can play some center field—once again according to Cafardo, per his Extra Bases Blog.

The Red Sox would be gaining a switch-hitting outfielder with three Gold Glove Awards to his name.

While fans may be quick to point to his off-year in 2012, there are several facets to his game that cannot be overlooked.

Obviously, he is a solid defensive player. Having a weaker defender at first creates a need for a strong right fielder. This is exactly what the team is looking at with Victorino and Napoli on the right side of the field.

In addition, it gives the team another bat at the top of the order with solid speed. He stole 39 bases last season and has swiped 30 or more bags four times in his career.

Additionally, Victorino led the National League twice in triples with 13 in 2009 and 16 in 2011 while hitting seven last season.

With the money that has come off the books for this team, the Red Sox are slowly putting together a solid team with good clubhouse guys on short-term deals.

In other words, the exact opposite of what the Boston Red Sox have been for so many years.

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2012 MLB Free Agency: Gary Sheffield Talks to B/R About His Company, HOF & More

For 20 seasons in Major League Baseball, Gary Sheffield terrorized opposing pitchers, belting 509 home runs (24th all-time) while driving in 1,676 RBI during his illustrious career.

A nine-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, Sheffield knows what it takes to be successful on the diamond, and with his new consulting firm, he is proving that he knows how to maintain his successful ways outside of the game.

Sheffield Sports & Entertainment Management Group is a sports and entertainment consulting firm owned by Gary Sheffield, his wife DeLeon Sheffield and his business partner Xavier D. James.

Mr. Sheffield was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time to discuss his firm, his free agent Jason Grilli, the Hall of Fame and more.

Here’s what Sheff had to say.

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MLB Free Agency: Lance Berkman to the Red Sox Would Make Sense

In her piece for’s Sweet Spot blog, Christina Kahrl makes a compelling case for what the Boston Red Sox need to do this winter to remain contenders in 2013.

In general, the theme of the piece focuses on how the team can be competitive next season while not breaking the bank on any one particular free agent. Instead, she outlines five strategic moves that can be made to bolster the team for relatively short money with flexibility in mind.

The first move, and likely the biggest signing of the winter as suggested by Kahrl, would be for the Red Sox to sign veteran 1B/DH/OF Lance Berkman to a one-year deal to play first base.

Initially, the collective groan of Red Sox Nation could be heard throughout the airwaves in Boston when the team was rumored to be “kicking the tires” on Berkman, as he told the Houston Chronicle.

The last thing Red Sox fans want to see is the team overpay for big names.

However, signing Berkman gives the team a few very important tangibles. First, the acquisition tells opponents that the team is still willing to spend on a slugger that will help to bolster the middle of your lineup.

The added bonus is the fact that he is a switch hitter and could complement David Ortiz nicely.

His power numbers, although diminished over the past couple of years, are still better than what one could expect from a tandem of Mauro Gomez and Jerry Sands. He is only one season removed from hitting 31 home runs in 145 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.

In addition, his veteran presence will help to mold the ballclub for the future. He is a solid clubhouse guy who can be a strong mentor to some of the younger talent on the squad.

Statistically, Berkman owns a lifetime .296/.409/.544/.953 batting line with 360 home runs in his 14-year career.

Remarkably, he has only played 31 games in American League East ballparks, offering an extremely small sample size of production.

For example, in his four games at Fenway Park, Berkman owns has four hits in 14 at-bats with a double, two RBI, four base on balls and a .286/.444/.357/.802 batting line.

He has played 12 games in Baltimore where he went 12/43 with three home runs, six RBI and posted a .279/.396/.488/.885 batting line.

The one hitch in signing Berkman is his asking price. As he told the Houston Chronicle, he is waiting to be “blown away” by an offer, or would be content retiring.

One would guess that a one-year deal would have to be made for somewhere between $12-$14 million annually to bring Berkman to Boston.

That said, if the Red Sox were to sign Berkman and the ship, once again, fails to sail into the playoffs, he would be an easy piece to trade away to a contending team come July or August while only costing the Sox money.

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