Ranking the 2013 Boston Red Sox Roster: Players 21-25
John Farrell has had a chance to see about two weeks of spring training games in his first season as the Boston Red Sox manager.
He has inherited a team that is being viewed with very limited expectation this season. No one knows quite what to expect from this Red Sox squad.
The Red Sox went out this winter and added veteran players on short-term contracts to rebuild the major league roster until the top prospects in the minor leagues are ready, potentially blocking some of the key prospects in the system.
Boston's top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. looks like he might be ready and has really been opening some eyes in camp. It is uncertain if the Red Sox would jump him from Double-A to the majors.
Again, the Red Sox are weaker between 1-10 spots in this ranking from last season right now, but much stronger in the 11-30 spots than years past.
Giving the age and potential regression of the American League East this season, the Red Sox could find themselves in contention for the division if they can get their pitching to perform better and get off to a good start during the first quarter of the season.
Farrell’s two seasons as a manager were slightly underwhelming, but given the financial restrictions he faced and the injuries he dealt with up North, he was able to learn on the job and gain very valuable experience as a major league manager.
It was the same formula that benefitted the Red Sox with former manager Terry Francona.
This is the second part of six part series ranking the players on the Red Sox roster. It is going to continue to examine as spring training continues the rank of all of the players up to position No. 1.
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25. Ryan Sweeney-Outfielder
When Ryan Sweeney punched his hand into a wall at the trade deadline last season, it seemed like that was going to be a fitting end to his short-lived career with the Red Sox.
Sweeney is an enormously gifted athlete who has never been able to put it together at the major league level and perform the way everyone has expected.
It is somewhat remarkable that Sweeney found his way back to Boston this winter and has the inside track on the potential 25th-man spot on this roster.
Part of Sweeney’s appeal is that he can cover all three outfield positions and the Red Sox have committed to a defensive liability, Jonny Gomes, playing left field. He is also hits from the left side, making it easier to find at-bats for him with the right-handed hitting Gomes.
Unless the Red Sox make the decision to bring Jackie Bradley, Jr. north, Sweeney looks like he’ll make the Opening Day roster.
24. Pedro Ciriaco-Utility Player
Pedro Ciriaco was one of the few bright spots on the Red Sox last season, filling in admirably at shortstop and third base and hitting much better than anyone would have guessed.
It seems that Ciriaco is fighting off a small challenge from newcomer Brock Holt, who came over in the Joel Hanrahan trade.
Ciriaco protects the Red Sox better than any option in the infield, making it very likely that he will be the team’s utility player this season, regardless of the offensive potential of Holt.
Given the injury history of Dustin Pedroia, Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks, Ciriaco is likely to be used to give each player a break during the long 162 game season.
Ciriaco’s speed is also another factor for the team; someone that can be used off of the bench to run late in games.
23. Craig Breslow-Left-Handed Specialist
Craig Breslow has been nursing a shoulder injury since the start of camp, putting him behind the pace of the rest of the pitchers on the team.
Breslow was schedule to begin a throwing program this past weekend and if he is able to recover completely, he should be ready in time to contribute to the Opening Day roster.
The 32-year-old Breslow was acquired at the July trade deadline last season and has become the second lefty in the bullpen behind Andrew Miller.
Breslow proved to be equally effective against left-handed and right-handed batters last season, holding them collectively to a .225 batting average.
The Red Sox depth of left-handed relievers is one of the reasons that the Boston bullpen has a chance at being elite this year. Having a healthy Breslow to pair with Miller and Franklin Morales will go a long way towards that.
22. Mike Carp-Bench Player
Mike Carp was a player that I identified early in the spring as a player that could help the Red Sox once that he was designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners.
Carp made sense on a lot of levels. The Red Sox have placed their hopes at first base on the back of Mike Napoli, the same player that Boston spent most of the winter renegotiating his original contract due to a degenerative hip condition discovered during his team physical.
Combining Napoli’s hip condition with David Ortiz, another player who is returning from a season-ending Achilles heel injury means that the Red Sox could be managing the health of both players for most of the season.
The left-handed hitting Carp would give the Red Sox good insurance at first base and designated hitter while allowing Boston to have another option for left field is Jonny Gomes struggles with the full-time job.
21. Andrew Miller-Left-Handed Specialist
Andrew Miller is never going to be the player that he was projected to be when he was the first-overall pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 MLB draft and was quickly promoted to the majors that August.
After bouncing between the Tigers and the Florida (Miami) Marlins organization, the 27-year-old lefty seems like he has finally found a home with the Red Sox.
The reason that he has flourished with the Red Sox is that they are content with Miller, looking his glass as half-full not half-empty. Boston was tempted by Miller during the 2011 season and gave the 6-foot-7 lefty some 12 starts during the season. The results were mixed.
Last season, Miller found a permanent home in the Red Sox bullpen and the results were the best of his career. Miller held left-handed hitters to a .149 batting average and pitched to a 3.35 ERA and a career best 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings.