Spring Training is all about the making the Big League club and heading north to Fenway. That said, we can pretty much already nail down most of the 25 roster spots that will make up the 2016 Boston Red Sox.
What often goes unsaid is the players that get sent down at the minors at the end of March that will come up over the course of the season to fill in for injuries, tired arms and bodies, paternity and bereavement leaves and unfortunately suspensions, these “Swingmen” often go unheralded this time of year.
Lets take a quick look at who they might be.
Catcher Christian Vazquez will catch in Boston this year. He is the best catcher in the system, but Blake Swihart is better offensively and will get the starting nod. Vazquez, who is still recovering from last year’s injury will replace Ryan Hanigan at some point during the season proving he can play multiple days in a row. Hannigan is out of options so he cant really get sent down when it happens he will need to be traded so Sox will need to be absolutely sure Vazquez is ready.
First Baseman Sam Travis arrives to the show if both Fat Panda and baseball’s version of Allen Iverson, Hanley Ramirez, both get hurt or are forced out of town. Fellow “Travi” Shaw may be better than superman according to certain Boston radio pundits and Fenway faithful but he can’t play both first and third at the same time. Even if Allen Craig isn’t traded at the end of Spring Training for “cash consideration” dont expect to ever see him in Fenway unless he buys a ticket. Sam Travis will get an opportunity for a Fenway debut.
Middle Infielders Marco Hernandez and Deven Marrero can both spell any short term stint needed. Both are on the 40 man roster and have options to go up and down as needed. ex big leauger Josh Rutledge stays in Pawtucket cause he is not on the 40 man roster, Hernandez gets first shot due to his showing this spring.
The outfield really has only one true option and that is David Murphy.
The catch here is that the contract he signed allows him an out at the end of spring training. So if he doesnt skip town for a full time major league gig he is an adequate replacemnt in both left and right as needed. Who we wont see this year are uber prospects Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi, so stop drooling for them. They need at least one full year of minor league ball, maybe even two. Read Tyler Scionti’s reasoning
Starting pitchers Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Roenis Elias all have options to get called up and go back down as needed–expect to see them all. Red Sox pitching has never been dependable……ever.
Bullpen arms are where the bulk of the “Swingmen” will be seen. Expect Tommy Layne, Steven Wright and Edwin Escobar to either make the team or get traded due lack of options available. That leaves Robbie Ross, Matt Barnes, Carlos Marmol, Heath Hembree, Noe Ramirez, Pat Light, William Jerez, and Jorge Marban to be the Swingmen.
Ross and Barnes both deserve to be in the big leagues at this point.
Marmol spend all of last year at Triple A for Cleveland, if the Red Sox director of pitching analysis and development, Brian Bannister, really figured out how to fix his control issues, then Marmol will get a extended stay in the big leagues.
Hembree has struggled this spring and only has one option left so don’t expect to see him until he proves himself at triple AAA first.
Ramirez, Light and Jerez, and all are on the 40 man roster already and have options available. Ramirez got his cup of coffee last year and has had a nice spring so far. Expect to see him again. Pat Light, who has struggled so far this spring, needs to work on his command as mentioned in an earlier article will arrive at some point. Jerez hasn’t pitched above double AA yet so should be the last to get a shot.
Jorge Marban is my pick to get added to 40 man roster and make it to Fenway. I covered him last week.
And there you have it! The Swingmen for the 2016 Boston Red Sox.