With Truck Day behind us and Spring Training ahead of us, it is time to take a look at the 2013 defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox and what we could see in 2014. Myself and Red Sox writer Willy, who recently discussed David Ortiz and his extension talks, are going to offer our outlooks on the Red Sox roster as it stands entering the 2014 season.
We are going to examine each position and offer our insights into what each spot on the field will produce this year. The first position under the microscope sits behind home plate.
Say what you want about A.J. Pierzynski’s personality or lack there of but he is the perfect one year stop-gap to the next generation, IE; Christian Vazquez and company. He is also a good left-handed compliment to David Ross.
Last season A.J. hit .272/.297/.425/.722 with 17 HRs compared to Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s .273/.338/.466/.804 with 14 HRs. He is also a slightly better defender than Salty, catching 24 base stealers while allowing 49 stolen bases, compared to Salty’s 24 caught, 89 stolen bases allowed. A.J. had 65 Assists to Salty’s 46.
There is no better backup in baseball than David Ross. He has the knowledge, smarts and a great personality. Typical of catchers these days, his bat is secondary to his defense. He still provided some offense with five doubles and 4 HRs in 36 games. What he really provides cannot be measured in stat’s, he is a true leader and great teammate.
The optimism here for me surrounds David Ross. Ross, as my colleague mentions above, brings leadership and intangibles to the game that many catchers go entire careers without possessing. What comforts me is his familiarity with the current pitching staff, as no real significant changes have been made to the rotation or the bullpen.
Ross will help newcomer A.J. Pierzynski adjust to a very diverse and talented pitching staff. Let’s face it, Pierzynski is no spring chicken, and with the combined age of him and Ross being 73 going into this season, the Red Sox have reasons to be concerned about their backstop. The Sox only need 120 games out of AJ and power number similar to what he accomplished last year, though I think he will end up short of those statistics. In addition, his .297 OBP won’t cut it without 40 plus extra-base hits.
If the old, wise men can stay healthy until September, then the Sox can wait until next year to work in their talented catching prospects. However, keep an eye on the discard pile of catchers age 29-33 in case Ross of AJ goes down due to father time.