Enough has been documented about Manny. Great hitter, small head. I don’t think there’s anything I can say about him…he can flat out hit, but he just dones’t get it. As Pedro says, “Manny is cuckoo. He is cuckoo.He is in la-la land.”
Johnny Damon was a little off this year, having a low OBP until he caught fire and boosted his stats so they only showed a small tail-off. However, it was a little more noticeable than his stats show. Save for his disastrous season in Oakland, he seems to go on two-year swings with regard to statistics. Here’s hoping he swings upward for the final two years of his contract. A lot of people give him grief for his pea-shooter arm, but this guy can run and he gives it his all. Remember when Kapler just LEVELED him against the Green Monster? This guy … this guy’s a Sox.
Trot Nixon had a career year (or would have, if he hadn’t had leg injuries in September). Chubby, as known for his reporting to spring training a little on the chubby side (which helped him maintain his weight throughout the season) has a great year, even though he still is helpless against lefties. A true Dirt Dog, he personifies the Red Sox. As an impending free agent, he also personifies money…money the Red Sox might not have.
Gabe Kapler, in 158 ABs for the Red Sox, hit .291/.349/.449. After a promising start with Texas when he was 23 and 24, he’s tailed off. At 27, he still has a good career ahead of him, but he will have to fight for a starting job. While he could have gotten more playing time elsewhere, he loved the Red Sox so much he returned for another season. This is something I just love to death. Before, everyone hated Boston so much. The clubhouse was awful. But we have the best clubhouse in the business, and everyone keeps gushing about how awesome it is to come to work. I truly feel blessed. I just love this team to death. Anyways, after one of the most auspicious Red Sox debuts ever, Kapler evolved into a VERY solid reserve outfielder and will have no problem filling that role for the Red Sox again and also emergency starter for when Manny’s grandmother dies again. He’ll most likely replace Nixon against lefties
David McCarty, never being a great hitter before this season, was a great pinch-hitter, and hitter, period, in the 2004 season hitting .340/.368 (ouch)/.491. He is a good reserve outfielder who can also play first and DH. While it remains to be seen if he will stick with the 2004 Red Sox, he is great depth to have. He could lose his job to Brown.
Adrian Brown, speed demon, hit so well and played so well he ended up scoring a playoff spot on the Red Sox in 2003. While most people write him off for 2004, it’s possible he could win a spot to start. If he doesn’t, and reports to Pawtucket, you better bet on him making the club at some point. He hit .282 with a .347 OBP and a 34/11 SB:CS ratio. Strictly an outfielder, if Kapler leaves after 2004 as is most likely due to Armageddon with the Red Sox free agents, Brown will become our go-to guy. Brown really does deserve a starting job. He’s had one and he’ll get one somewhere.
Crespo is pretty much Adrian Brown with a little less hitting and speee, but has more power and plays most all positions. He is what one would call a super-utility guy. Because Francona knows the NL very well, I’m not going to be surprised when he utilizes his bench more than AL managers do. The Red Sox are going to need a strong bench, and Brown/Crespo will provide great options.
Jeremy Owens, 27, a true-blue outfielder, hit .263/.326/.484 (21 HR!). He is a great option off the bench and can start in a pinch. And don’t forget about his twin brother, Justin Sherrod, 26, who walks more. Both have great potential to be reserve outfielders.
Jumping ahead quickly to Augusta…Coffey, Durbin, Soto, and Veracierto are all very weak outfielders for Augusta. We’re going to forget Augusta and deal with Sarasota and Lowell. They had no business starting games for Augusta which (predictably) went 49-87. Time shouldn’t be wasted on those people.
While Barclay doesn’t look very good for Sarasota, Cooper has potential. For Augusta, he hit so well he earned a promotion to Sarasota (which left Augusta incredibly thin in the outfield ranks). While he didn’t pan out well at Sarasota, his Augusta hitting has made people hope we have a sleeper here. He hit .293/.422/.420 for Augusta! He had three errors at each level, playing 36 games for Augusta and 33 for Sarasota, where he went .176/.323/.298. What caught my eye is that he has very good plate disclipline. When people struggle, most people start hacking, but Cooper stayed patient and got on base. David Murphy, our number one draft pick this past season, tore up Lowell so well, he got promoted to Sarasota. He didn’t have great numbers there, but made the adjustment better than Cooper did from Augusta to Sarasota, hitting .242 with similiar OBPs and SLG. He also has some wheels on him. A lot of people target 2005 for Murphy, but I disagree. That will be Damon’s last year. What with the good crop of outfielders projected to hit the majors around 05/06 (as soxprospects.com believes), I believe the Sox will play it safe and have Damon play out his final year (at a ridiculous $8.5 million – I like Damon but not at that price), and then let him (regrettably) walk.
Robert Evans played football in college, so it would make sense he was a power hitter. He is, and had a .265/.346/.481 line for Lowell in 181 at-bats. If he can keep up this level of production, he will be a VERY solid starter in the majors. There are generally three types of minor leagues. Those that tail off as the competition gets harder (Brian Rose) … those that maintain their leval of productivity (off the top of my head – Casey Blake of the Indians) … and those that come out of nowhere (Jody Gerut of the Indians). If Evan’s can stay in the second category, we have a very good find on our hands. Most hitters have 500-600 at-bats, so Evans could end up with 20-odd homers if he maintains his productivity. Keep an eye on this guy. Matt Murton was another high-profile draft pick and draws similiarities to Evans but with a lesser SLG percentage and a higher batting average. He is also one to eye. The low minors house very solid outfield candidates – something I think was done on purpose. They WILL get rid of Manny eventually. Damon will play out his contract. Nixon will leave somehow. These are our future…two or three years down the road.
De La Cruz, Carlos
While it’s too early to say anything about the GCL crop, this can be said about them – Boitel is a good all-around hitter, Cronkhite, with development, could become a player…De La Cruz seems to be the weakest out of the GCL crop, Hall has a low average and SLG but his OBP is through the roof (.400) which bodes well for development, and Tuner has quite some power (.405 SLG).
The Dominican League showed that Cesar Gutierrez and Luis Mercedes have a future. All in all, Theo has a great eye when it comes to outfielders. I found myself a little overwhelmed by all the great choices, so I decided to just give little snippets of each or I’d be writing until Free Agent Day. Spring training’s not too far, guys. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a ride!
Congrats to the Pats!
The outfield is where the talent lies (2003 Minor League OF)