Editor’s note: NESN.com is holding a three-week tournament to determine “Boston’s Best Newcomer.” The Red Sox added a lot of new faces in 2013, and the results have been impressive. It’s time to determine which new addition from 2013 best embodies Boston baseball.
The 2013 Red Sox are successful, likeable and poised to make a deep playoff run. Boston has a ton of new faces to thank for its turnaround.
The Red Sox brought in a number of key veterans in the offseason and throughout the year. The goal was to improve not only the roster, but also the clubhouse culture. An emphasis was placed on acquiring players who are both talented and possess a lot of character. The Red Sox have discovered that it’s a winning formula.
The veterans that the Red Sox have acquired since the end of the 2012 season, which ended with a disappointing 69-93 record, are all unique. They’re also becoming more well-known to Boston baseball fans as we head down the stretch and toward the postseason.
But which player acquired over the last 11 months is Red Sox Nation’s favorite? Red Sox fans typically gravitate toward players who combine on-field success with a dash of personality, and a number of this season’s newcomers fit that mold.
Fans are asked to consider the players’ total package (personality, style of play, on-field success, impact, intangibles, etc.) while voting for their favorite. NESN.com’s “Boston’s Best Newcomer” tournament will determine which 2013 newcomer best personifies Red Sox baseball.
Weight: 195 pounds
MLB experience: 5 years
Acquired: Signed as a free agent (one-year, $4.25 million deal with vesting option for 2014)
The Red Sox had a busy offseason, but the signing of Koji Uehara flew under the radar a bit. Uehara is no longer flying under the radar, though, as the 38-year-old has since been thrust into Boston’s all-important closer role.
Uehara, who enjoyed success with the Orioles and Rangers before signing with the Red Sox as a free agent back in December, started the 2013 season as a setup man. He thrived in the role, earning himself a spot on the American League All-Star Final Vote ballot through his dependability and seventh- and eighth-inning dominance.
The Red Sox had a closer dilemma, however. Both Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey went through rough patches before eventually landing on the disabled list with season-ending injuries. Uehara was thus handed the keys to the Red Sox’ ninth-inning duties on June 21, and he has since become even more dominant in his new position.
Uehara’s incredible strike-throwing ability has made him one of baseball’s most reliable closers, while his personality and energy have made him one of the Red Sox’ most unique characters. Uehara has pitched and high-fived his way into the hearts of Red Sox fans everywhere.
“We’ve seen the consistency from start to finish. He has saved our tail end all year long.” (Sept. 1)
Weight: 210 pounds
MLB experience: 5 years
Acquired: Via trade from Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later or cash
Mike Carp has made the most of his limited opportunities this season. Whether it’s starting in place of an outfielder, giving Mike Napoli a day off or pinch-hitting in a key spot, Carp has shown an uncanny ability to stay prepared and come through when called upon.
The Red Sox brought in Carp during spring training to compete with Lyle Overbay for a job. Carp’s ability to play both the outfield and first base led to him making the team, and he has since rewarded the Red Sox for their decision. While he’s not the most boisterous guy in the Red Sox’ clubhouse, he has fit perfectly into Boston’s successful mix.
Someday, Carp just might evolve into an everyday player — something he has yet to be during his major league career. For now, he’s one of the most reliable bench options in baseball.
“In spring training, [Carp] was just getting familiar with us. New surroundings. We tried to get him as many at-bats as possible. He was designated and kind of out of action for eight to 10 days. But we’ve always liked the player [and] liked the swing, and the versatility defensively was the decision at the time over Overbay when it came right down to it. Lyle in his own right has gone on to perform well [with the Yankees], but Mike Carp in the role that he’s been in has thrived.” (Aug. 28)
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