Pressure’s on Ryan Kalish, Jose Iglesias as Top Two Red Sox Prospects and Eight Other Thoughts

Pressure's on Ryan Kalish, Jose Iglesias as Top Two Red Sox Prospects and Eight Other Thoughts After a week off to allow the winter meetings to play out and the Red Sox’ massive haul to settle in, we are back with our look at nine thoughts related to the hometown team. So strap yourself in and get set to take on the latest edition of the Red Sox Lineup.

1. How can we start with anything but the Cliff Lee news? Only what hasn’t been said about it from a Red Sox perspective? Well, one writer’s thought on the subject (you can hazard a guess as to who it might be) is that Lee is someone who sees himself on the verge of cementing himself in history as one of the better lefties of the modern era, but he would need another four or five really good years to reach that status. Perhaps he took one look at the brand new Red Sox lineup and thought that heading to New York could jeopardize that legacy. Five years in the National League might be “easy” enough to lift Lee to Hall of Fame status. Six in the AL East, against whom he was 3-5 with a 4.27 ERA last year, could cause that legacy to be a bit more checkered. Just a thought.

2. Without Lee, the Yankees have had to resort to some lesser moves. It was not a surprise that they won out on Russell Martin. Teams like the Red Sox and Blue Jays were a tad less desperate behind the plate than New York was. With Jorge Posada essentially a full-time designated hitter and Francisco Cervelli a marginal defender at best, the Yanks needed another presence at catcher until top prospect Jesus Montero is able to slide in, if he ever does. Martin comes with question marks, but he may have been the best option for a team in need of catching help.

3. The reconstruction of the Red Sox’ bullpen continues, but it takes place at a painstakingly slow pace. Matt Albers could be a big help, despite his 5.11 career ERA, but he is not the “sure thing” that a Scott Downs or Matt Guerrier might’ve been. Those two have taken advantage of a reliever-friendly market by obtaining a pair of three-year deals for at least $4 million per. Downs also cost his signing team (Angels) a draft pick, just to show how far some teams are willing to go for bullpen help this winter. Could the Red Sox be next in offering a lengthy and overpriced deal to a reliever? They might just have to be.

4. The Cliff Lee news caused most of New England to turn its attention to the Bronx and let out a hearty laugh, knowing that the Yankees had faltered on Plan A of the offseason. However, those that have taken it to the lengths of writing off New York in 2011 are getting a bit ahead of themselves. With the money they had set aside for Lee, the Yanks can now build a better-balanced and deeper team than they might have if they threw over $20 million at another pitcher. If Andy Pettitte comes back and one of the remaining big-name relievers is OK setting up Mariano Rivera next year, they will have plenty to work with. And before spring training opens, expect them to send some mid-level prospects somewhere for some starting pitching depth. If acquiring someone like Fausto Carmona pays off and A.J. Burnett turns things around, the rotation may be just fine. There are a lot of ifs in that paragraph, but just wait a bit before burying the Bronx Bombers — missing out on Lee may turn out to be a positive for them in the long run.

5. We will get into a full Red Sox prospects ranking again on a weekly basis once the spring rolls around, but with Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes now out of the system, it’s safe to say things will be shuffled. Outfielder Ryan Kalish figures to be the top prospect until he officially sticks in the majors, which might not be until 2012. Shortstop Jose Iglesias is on the same track and should be considered No. 2. Anthony Ranaudo, who was dominant in the Cape League after being drafted by the Sox in the 2010 supplemental round, could slide into the top spot in time, one of the main factors in being able to include Kelly in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.

6. How fitting that Carl Crawford was being introduced the morning that tickets went on sale at Fenway Park last Saturday. With a pair of marquee attractions added to the club in the previous six days, the Sox were able to sell 238,818 tickets during the first weekend of the on-sale season. It was the second-highest total since the annual Christmas at Fenway event began in 2003. Tickets are still available at, or by calling 877-RED-SOX9, or at the ticket office at Fenway.

7. We know he can hit, run and defend with the best of them, but who knew Crawford was such a bookworm? When word surfaced that Crawford’s love of the classics, and their preservation, would cause him to open an antiquarian book store in the Boston area, local store owners and fans of the industry were stirred. Alas, it was all a joke, and a darn good one at that. Sounds like more of a Manny story anyway.

8. The additions of Crawford and Gonzalez caused every publication under the sun to play manager for a moment and predict the best lineup for the Red Sox next season. It’s a fun task, kind of like digging your hand into the biggest bag of candy on Halloween and knowing you’ll come out with something good. A solid one on, written by Irish pitcher/writer Cormac Eklof, had an intro of pure gold. Eklof wrote: “A discourse on the potentialities available to the Boston Red Stockings in terms of lineup permutations. One mans view.”

You just can’t write that stuff. Unless you live overseas.

9. We are less than two months until pitchers and catchers report and now just about two years until the Red Sox open their new spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. We learned last week that the cost of the venture is more than originally expected. It’s not earth-shattering news, but for those of you interested in some of the details of the plan, as well as multiple looks at the site, here is a good place to start. Also, images of the future home can be found here.

Something to look forward to on these chilly days.

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