Early Grades for All of the Boston Red Sox Offseason Acquisitions
For 2014 the Boston Red Sox retained the majority of their championship winning squad from a year ago. But as is the case with every franchise, the Red Sox did add a few small pieces over the winter. Boston made changes at catcher and center field, and brought in some depth on the bench and in the bullpen.
One month into the season, how have the new Red Sox fared so far?
While evaluating Boston's offseason acquisitions, it's important to keep in mind how well each has performed in comparison to preseason expectations.
Here are letter grades for the six Red Sox players who recently made their debuts with the team.
Statistics courtesy of RedSox.com.
The Red Sox received Jonathan Herrera in a trade with the Colorado Rockies last December. In five years in the big leagues Herrera has never had more than 281 at-bats in a season; he is the prototypical utility infielder. Boston's only intentions for him were to be a backup at second base, third base and shortstop.
An early injury to third baseman Will Middlebrooks pressed Herrera into added duty. He's appeared in 16 games, starting nine of them.
Herrera is batting just .182, a significant dip from his career .265 average in Colorado. However, everbody hits better in Colorado, and the Red Sox didn't get him for his bat.
Herrera has filled in at three positions, giving days off to Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia as well as covering for Middlebrooks. In the field Herrera has made one error in 27 chances.
Back in November Boston made a minor deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in which they acquired Burke Badenhop. A career middle reliever with a 3.98 ERA, Badenhop's role has not changed since joining the Red Sox.
Last season with Milwaukee Badenhop posted a 3.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a .266 batting average against. Assuming Boston would like to see similar numbers from the 31-year-old this year, Badenhop has to be considered a bit of a disappointment in the early goings.
Badenhop has made 12 appearances, throwing 17.2 innings. His ERA is a respectable 3.57, but his 1.47 WHIP and .303 BAA are not what the Red Sox are hoping for.
The Red Sox signed Edward Mujica to a two-year $9.5 million contract with the idea that he could be an effective set-up man in front of Koji Uehara.
Mujica was the St. Louis Cardinals closer for the majority of 2013, converting 35 of 37 save opportunities through August. However, in September everything changed. Mujica blew two of four save chances and finished the month with a horrific 11.05 ERA and .514 batting averaged against. He lost his job and was a non-factor for the Cardinals in the postseason.
On March 20 Ian Browne of MLB.com wrote the following:
The Red Sox have already seen enough from right-hander Edward Mujica to think he will pitch like he did for the first two-thirds of last season, instead of the fatigued hurler who lost his closing job with the Cardinals.
"It wasn't injury related. It was more fatigue," said manager John Farrell. "Looking back at his usage, there were a number of times he went four days in a row, a couple other times he went three days in a row, and, I think, just physically, he hit a little bit of a wall. The power to the stuff declined through the course of the year."
Unfortunately for Boston, Mujica's struggles have continued. Despite never pitching on consecutive days, the right-hander has allowed 14 hits and 10 earned runs in just nine innings. His 10.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP and .341 BAA have led to Mujica being used only once since April 24.
When Ryan Dempster announced that he did not intend to play this year, the Red Sox signed Chris Capuano to fill his roster position and potentially compete for the final spot in the rotation.
Considering the 35-year-old didn't even arrive at training camp until late February, the results so far have been spectacular.
A starter for most of his career, Capuano is thriving as a left-handed option in Boston's bullpen. He was originally thought of as next in line to join the rotation should someone get hurt, but Capuano has been so effective in relief that it might be in the Red Sox's best interests to keep him there.
The Springfield, Mass. native has yet to allow a run while striking out 15 batters in 15 innings of work, and opponents are hitting just .154 against him. Along with his 0.00 ERA Capuano has a minuscule 0.73 WHIP—both of which lead the team.
With a pair of top catching prospects on their way up through the organization, the Red Sox were not interested in re-signing free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the multi-year deal he was looking for. Instead Boston chose to bring in veteran A.J. Pierzynski on a one-year contract.
In 2013 Saltalamacchia hit .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI. Pierzynski's numbers to date put him on a very similar pace. Through the first month of the season he's bating .269 with two home runs and 13 RBI.
Early on Pierzynksi had some trouble behind the plate acclimating himself to Red Sox pitchers, but those days appear to be behind him. Via John Tomase of the Boston Herald, Pierzynski recently said:
We’re getting there. There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s not just showing up and throwing down fingers. You have to learn guys’ strengths and weaknesses, how they like to pitch. It’s always a work in progress.
The pitcher has the ball. It’s his ball. It’s his game. Everywhere you go has its ups and downs. Every time we go out, I feel a little more comfortable, a little closer to being on the same page. You try to make these guys feel as good as they can, give them as much as confidence as you can, so that every time they go out there, they believe they’re the best guy in the world.
The 37-year-old Pierzynski's All-Star days are likely behind him, but he's still getting the job done for Boston in 2014.
Before this season Grady Sizemore last played major league baseball in 2011. The Red Sox signed him to a $750,000 contract (which includes many potential bonuses) when nobody else was interested in taking a chance on him.
Heading into spring training the only expectation for Sizemore was that he might provide a bit of competition for rookie center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. But Sizemore batted .310 in Grapefruit League play, stayed healthy and won the starting gig on Opening Day.
Sizemore went 2-for-4 with a home run in his first game for Boston, but his average has been on the decline ever since. For the season Sizemore is now hitting .213 with a .294 on-base percentage and a .360 slugging percentage in 75 at-bats.
Bradley Jr. has since taken over the center field spot, and Shane Victorino's return from the disabled list has relegated Sizemore to a platoon in left field with Jonny Gomes.
While Sizemore's numbers so far are not that impressive, the fact that he is once again a serviceable big league outfielder certainly is.