Boston Red Sox Will Get Boost from Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Others
While the Boston Red Sox have managed to fight their way above .500, they have done so without Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Even though the replacements have surpassed expectations, they are bound to regress, and none of them are of the same caliber as Ellsbury and Crawford.
The bullpen has also managed to be the saving grace for the pitching staff, yet it's done it without its two major acquisitions from the offseason.
Both the outfield and the bullpen will benefit from reinforcements, and the Red Sox will use them to make a late-season push for a playoff spot.
Check out how these players will improve the outfield and the bullpen, and I have one pitcher who will provide the starting rotation with a boost.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
After a breakout season, Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a potentially season-ending injury when he dislocated his shoulder on April 13.
If Ellsbury can return as scheduled and provide anything close to his 2011 performance, where he hit .321 with 32 home runs, 39 stolen bases and, more importantly, a .376 OBP, then he will be a major addition to the team.
Despite help from Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney and the now-injured Cody Ross, the Red Sox outfield could use a boost.
Not only is Ellsbury a better hitter than any of the current options, he is also the best defensive outfielder.
Carl Crawford, OF
After a dreadful first season in Boston, Carl Crawford hoped to bounce back in 2012.
However, a slew of injuries has prevented Crawford from seeing the field.
Fortunately the Red Sox have gotten help from Ryan Sweeney, Daniel Nava, Cody Ross and even Adrian Gonzalez, but none of them are as good of an outfielder as Crawford.
Crawford will be eager to return and show fans that he truly is a $20 million player.
The return of a healthy Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury would be a significant boost to the Red Sox. If both players can return to form, they will provide a substantial improvement both offensively and defensively.
Andrew Bailey, P
Before Andrew Bailey’s Red Sox story could even begin, he was hampered by a thumb injury that has caused him to undergo thumb surgery and be placed on the 60-day DL.
However, when he returns, Bailey will provide the bullpen with a viable closer with three years of experience and a two-time All-Star. According to The Boston Globe, Bailey has been cleared to throw and could return soon.
Even though Alfredo Aceves has pitched really well, by using Bailey as the closer, Bobby Valentine will be able to use Aceves in other high-pressure situations.
Bailey’s addition to the bullpen will not only make it easier on Aceves, but it will take pressure off of every other pitcher as well.
Even if Bailey doesn’t automatically get the closers role, he could be the team’s setup man, something the Red Sox lack at the moment.
Mark Melancon, P
Unlike Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon got a shot at showing fans why the Red Sox traded Jed Lowrie for the former Houston Astros closer.
Melancon was healthy but erratic and allowed 11 earned runs in just two innings.
But since he joined Pawtucket, he has turned things around and has returned to being a strikeout pitcher. In 21 games at Triple-A, Melancon has a 0.83 ERA, 27 strikeouts and, more importantly, just three walks in 21.2 innings pitched.
The trip to Pawtucket to regain his form was exactly what the doctor ordered, and now Melancon is prepared for a call-up whenever the bullpen needs a boost (via ESPNBoston.com).
Daisuke Matsuzaka, P
With Daniel Bard getting demoted to Pawtucket, Daisuke Matsuzaka has a chance to rewrite his Red Sox story.
If he can come in on Saturday and provide the starting rotation with the necessary boost and help the team inch closer to a playoff spot, Matsuzaka will once again be loved by fans.
Particularly in Boston, it’s not what you have done that’s important, it’s what you have done for me lately.
Both John Farrell and Terry Francona are no longer in Boston, and Matsuzaka has a chance with Bobby Valentine to revive his career.
Valentine knows more about Japanese pitchers than anyone Matsuzaka has worked with since singing with the Red Sox in 2006.
Between the knowledge of how Japanese pitchers operate and the ability to communicate in Japanese, Valentine will make Matsuzaka the best pitcher he can be.