Red Sox 2010 Report Card

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Red Sox 2010 Report Card

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

It's that time of year, class: time for the end-of-season grades for the 2010 season.

In some cases, a slight grading curve was used, especially when it came to young players, of whom little was expected.

Without further ado....

POSITION PLAYERS

Victor Martinez: B
Martinez's first month was a disaster -- at the plate (four RBI) but mostly behind it, as teams ran at will. To his credit, Martinez worked hard to improve his throwing and by midseason he was at least league average. He positively crushed left-handed pitching (.742 slugging) and, after a five-week absence following a broken thumb, played every game remaining until the final weekend. After Kevin Youkilis went down, Martinez was often the team's best offensive player.

Jason Varitek: C-
In some ways, Varitek's season was the exact opposite of Martinez. He began well, showed surprising power in the early going and for a time, it looked like he might earn more playing time. A broken foot interrupted his season and when he returned, he didn't look nearly as comfortable as a catcher or hitter.

Kevin Cash: D
Cash was the team's emergency answer when both Martinez and Varitek went down with injuries within days of one another. Cash proved he's still a solid catch-and-throw receiver, but the fact that he didn't get his first RBI with the Sox until the second-to-last-day of the season speaks volumes about his offensive dip.

Kevin Youkilis: A-
After the Sox were hit by a litany of injuries, they seemed to improbably hang in the race. But when Youkilis went down for good with a season-ending thumb injury, the Sox were effectively finished. Youkilis again displayed superb defense at first and flirted with a 1.000 OPS. The argument can certainly be made that he's the team's best position player.
David Ortiz: B
For the second season in a row, Ortiz managed to resurrect his season after a painfully slow start. Unlike 2009, this time, the nosedive lasted only the first month. Ortiz can still be a force at the plate, as evidence by his run production and his first 30-homer season since 2007. But his difficulties against left-handed pitching (.599 OPS) is troubling. He could benefit from a platoon next season -- assuming he returns.

Dustin Pedroia: A-
If the loss of Youkilis represented the end of the Red Sox' playoff chances, then Pedroia's broken foot on the final weekend of June stands as the beginning of the end. When Pedroia went down, the Sox not only lost standout defense at second and top-of-the-order scrapiness, but also, their swagger. Anyone who believes intangibles are overrated hasn't spent much around Pedroia, who infuses his team with energy and confidence.
Jed Lowrie: B
Just when it seemed like this was going to be nearly a lost season for Lowrie, who missed most of the first four months recovering from mono, he re-introduced himself to the Sox as a versatile infielder with pop in his bat. Granted, it was a relatively small sample size, but would it surprise you to learn that he finished with the fourth-best slugging percentage (.526) on the team? If he can stay on the field -- a big if -- he could be in the running for two starting jobs (shortstop and third base) next spring.

Marco Scutaro: C
He wasn't the overpriced disasters that were Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo -- the two free agents who preceded him through the revolving shortstop door -- but wasn't anything special, either. He was solid in the field, but showed disappointing range. At the plate, he filled in OK as a leadoff hitter in Jacoby Ellsbury's spot, but didn't deliver the extra-base dimension that some had hoped for. He gets credit, though, for playing through neck and shoulder woes.

Mike Lowell: D
The final weekend ceremony was fitting tribute for a classy pro, but his final season was largely forgettable. He didn't have a spot, and couldn't get himself healthy or traded. The August homer he hit straight off the DL was a season highlight, but there was little else memorable.
Adrian Beltre: A
Both the Sox and Beltre gambled on a one-year deal and both won. Beltre resurrected his value and the Sox obtained a fantastic middle-of-the-order presence and good -- though perhaps not as great as advertised -- defense. He was unquestionably the team's MVP and had the Sox qualified for the playoffs, might have even had a case for A.L. MVP. It's quite likely his stay in Boston was one-and-done, but that doesn't detract from how he played, or, just as significantly, how hard he played.

Mike Cameron: C-
Right from the start, Cameron's defense was somewhat suspect. He seemed to break poorly on balls hit to center and bore little resemblance to his Gold Glove past. If it turns out that his troubles were related to the abdominal tear that dates back to spring training, the Sox will be relieved. If it merely signaled a real downturn in his play, they're stuck with an overpriced season in 2011. Either way, it may be that he played through more pain than any Red Sox player since Andre Dawson.

Bill Hall: C
Like Cameron, Hall was a gamer, willing to play all over the infield and both corner outfield spots. He added power off the bench, but was streaky at the plate and inconsistent with his outfield defense.

J.D. Drew: C-
In many ways, Drew was the biggest disappointment among regular position players. His OBP slipped and he was horrendous against lefties (.208 batting average). His outfield play was solid, but even there, not what it once was. A late power surge gave him his fifth 20-homer season, but there was something missing.

Ryan Kalish: B
Out of need, Kalish arrived in the big leagues far sooner than he or the organization expected. From July 31 on, he played pretty regularly, showing good baseball instincts in the outfield and on the bases. He slumped at times at the plate, as might be expected for someone who began the season at Double A. If he's not a regular next season, it will be because the Sox obtained a regular outfielder in the offseason. Either way, his time is coming.

Daniel Nava: C-
Who could have predicted that when Nava hit a grand slam with his first swing in the big leagues, it would be his only homer of the season? Limited as an outfielder and tentative at the plate, he got exposed the more he played. He could probably be a fourth outfielder elsewhere, but shouldn't be one here. Still, his arrival -- from independent league obscurity, relatively late in his career -- was a nice story.

Darnell McDonald: B-
Like Nava, he bounced around interminably. Unlike Nava, he showed he had staying power with athleticism in outfield and on the basepaths. If the Sox want Kalish to get more experience at Triple-A, McDonald might again have a roster spot as a reserve next year.

Jeremy Hermida: D-
Early on, when Hermida was contributing off the bench and showing a knack for two-out hits, it appeared as though the Sox had struck it big in picking up Hermida from the Marlins. In time, this proved a mirage. And his defense was, in a word, abysmal.

INCOMPLETE: Jacoby Ellsbury, Felipe Lopez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Yamaico Navarro, Lars Anderson, Eric Patterson, Gutavo Molina, Josh Reddick, Angel Sanchez, Niuman Rivera, Dusty Brown, Jonathan Van Every, Ryan Shealy

PITCHERS

Jon Lester: A-
Another fine season for the lefty, who missed out on an a straight 'A' because of another poor April, then missed out on his first 20-win season in his final start of the year. Other than David Price, is there another lefty in baseball you'd even think about take over Lester?

Clay Buchholz: A
The Red Sox' patience was finally rewarded with this breakout year from Buchholz, putting an end to questions about whether he was truly capable of being a front-line starter. He was incredibly dominant at times with 20 starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer.

Josh Beckett: F
After a good start on Opening Night, it was all downhill for Beckett. Everything negative that could happen, from injury to ineffectiveness, did. The Sox have to hope that this was an aberration; otherwise that contract extension handed out in spring is going to become a giant albatross for the franchise for years to come.

John Lackey: C-
He wasn't a disaster, but he wasn't nearly as good as people assumed he was going to be. Some in the organization believe his inconsistency was due to adjusting to life in the AL East and his trouble with lefties, who had an OPS of .802 against him. Either way, he'd be wise to ditch the rationalizations and the body language toward his fielders.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: C-
His record could have been better, but then, that's what you get when you take forever on the mound and seldom pitched into the seventh inning. It seems obvious now that Matsuzaka peaked in his second season here, one more reason for the Sox to seriously explore dealing him off this winter.

Tim Wakefield: D
Like Lowell, Wakefield never truly found a role with the team once Matsuzaka returned from the DL in early May and Buchholz established himself. He was unhappy as the long man in the bullpen and even his second-half spot starts didn't go particularly well. It's a shame that it's ending this way for him.

Hideki Okajima: D
Examine the numbers closely and it's evident that he's been in decline since his first season in Boston. He pitched better in September, displaying his trademark command, but he's almost certain to be a non-tender since the Sox have no interest whatsoever in paying him the 5 million or so he'll get in arbitration.

Daniel Bard: A
True, he blew seven saves -- most earlier than the ninth inning -- but he was by far the team's more dominant and durable reliever, averaging more than a strikeout per inning. Everyone assumes he's the closer-in-waiting, but until that time arrives, the Sox are lucky to have such a powerful weapon in the set-up role.

Manny Delcarmen: C-
It never worked out for Delcarmen in Boston, which is sometimes the way it goes with local guys. For a stretch in mid-April through mid-May, he was almost unhittable, but that didn't last. He couldn't seem to maintain the same delivery and release point and got himself traded to Colorado late in the year where, sadly, things didn't get any better.

Ramon Ramirez: D
In retrospect, we can now see his first half-season with the Sox in early 2009 was the exception to the rule. Another reliever whose stuff suggests the results should be a lot better than they are, he, too, was jettisoned to the National League. That they moved him on July 31, at the exact time when the Sox were desperately searching for bullpen upgrades showed just how out of favor he had fallen.

Felix Doubront: B
It's too much of a stretch to suggest that things could have been different for the Sox had not this rookie gone down with injury in the first few days of September. But it sure would have been more interesting with Doubront available for the late innings in the final month. Who knows how he'll be used in 2011, but there was plenty to like about him in his introduction to the big leagues -- both as a starter and a reliever.

Scott Atchison: B-
It probably says more about the Red Sox than it does about Atchison that this non-roster invitee journeyman was, by the the end of the year, the team's second-most trusted set-up man. Credit Atchison for making the most of the opportunity -- even if he did show a distrubing propensity for giving up homers at the worst possible time.

Jonathan Papelbon: C-
It's easy to forget that Papelbon saved 37 games. What you remember, of course, are the ones he blew, since they were all pretty demoralizing and particularly ill-timed. His career arc is, after two straight down years, trending the wrong way. In what will almost certainly his final year with the Sox, will be be able to reverse that trend? No bigger offseason question exists.

INCOMPLETE: Matt Fox, Rich Hill, Robert Manuel, Robert Cuello, Dustin Richardson, Michael Bowden, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Nelson, Boof Bonser, Fernando Cabrera.

MANAGEMENT

Terry Francona: A-
By the manager's own admission, he could have done some things differently in April when the team was skidding. But he kept them in competition in the face of the Great Injury Plague of '10, and for that, he deserves eternal respect and praise.
Theo Epstein: C
Some offseason moves (Beltre) worked; too many (Cameron, Lackey, Herminda) didn't -- at least in the first year of some multiyear deals. And the Beckett extension is looking mighty suspect. He was probably correct not to mortgage the future for bullpen help that wouldn't have saved the season, but it just didn't look good to lose out on Kerry Wood to the Yankees simply because of money. The Sox' GM has had a number of terrific seasons -- this wasn't one of them.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

BOSTON — David Ortiz should stop by Fenway Park more often. 

There may be no tangible gain for his old teammates. At this point, it defies logic to think there’d be tangible harm.

On Thursday evening before Ortiz’s charity roast at House of Blues, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy recalled how it was a no-brainer to plan Friday’s jersey retirement so soon after Ortiz’s exit from the game. 

Kennedy said he was the one who actually broached the question with team management last year. Basically, everyone looked at him sideways because of the implication any other time but right away made sense.

“No person has meant more to the [John] Henry-[Larry] Lucchino-[Tom] Werner era than David Ortiz,” Kennedy said.

Let’s accept the premise wholly: that because Ortiz is so special, the timing for his ceremony deserved to be just as unique. The design of the day was centered on how much Ortiz means to people: fans, the team.

Why, then, has Ortiz been staying away from the ballclub? Dustin Pedroia has been a leader for years. Ortiz is a positive influence. The idea that having Big Papi swing by Fenway sometimes would actively stunt the development of the Red Sox’ identity is a stretch. 

There’s been a grace period of nearly three months. 

“Well I, I could never entirely walk away. I have been around,” Ortiz said Friday night in a press conference. “I have been watching the games and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don’t like to, you know, be in the way of anything. 

“I know that, me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I don’t — I tell myself, give everybody their space and I don’t want to, now that I’m not playing, I don’t want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something, so. I have been able to keep my distance so I’m not in nobody’s way. But I stay in touch with everybody and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things. 

“But me and the organization, we’ve been talking for a while about me working with the organization. Probably Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it’s going to happen, and at some point I’m going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow some way.”

It’d be ridiculous to say Ortiz is the reason Rick Porcello pitched well and Hanley Ramirez homered Friday. It’d be a flat-out lie.

But Ortiz’s presence shouldn’t somehow be a distraction, if leadership and the mentality in the Red Sox clubhouse is as the Red Sox describe it.

"Pedey has been a leader of this team for the entire time he's been here,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “To me, the clubhouse has been a place where guys have felt comfortable. They've been able to come in and be themselves. They have rallied around one another when times have called for that. When you remove an individual, there are going to be other people who step up. I firmly believe that has taken place.”

If that’s the case, then how does what Farrell said in the same pregame press conference yesterday make sense?

“[Ortiz] has a keen awareness that he could potentially keep others from flourishing with the potential thought and the question always being there,” Farrell said. “Well, he is around, is he ever coming back? All the things that I think have been reported on to a certain extent. I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I wouldn't be surprised if that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he's done.”

But that decision seems flawed. No one in that room should be hurt or confused by Ortiz coming by occasionally — absolutely not now that the jersey’s hanging. (A little speculation he could un-retire was throwing the Sox off their game? Really?) 

If anything, the team should find comfort in seeing such an important, charismatic man with ties to the group.

Ortiz is special. The team has adapted well without him. If those are facts, the need for Ortiz to stay away doesn’t make sense.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.