Ryan Spilborghs, Cody Ross Two Intriguing Outfield Options Still Available for Red Sox

by NESN Staff

January 19, 2012

Ryan Spilborghs, Cody Ross Two Intriguing Outfield Options Still Available for Red SoxHere we go again.

It's easy to feel that way if you're a Red Sox fan. Pitchers and catchers don't report to Ft. Myers for a month but the team is already dealing with injury issues, the kind that went a long way toward derailing the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Carl Crawford is the latest to join the recovery ward. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his wrist to remove cartilage this week. He might be back for Opening Day. Or he might not. And he isn't the only outfielder trying to come back from an injury. Ryan Kalish missed most of last season and underwent shoulder surgery in November.

Almost makes you miss J.D. Drew.

Last season, the Sox had virtually no production out of right field. Sox right fielders hit 14 home runs and were barely above the Mendoza Line. Despite that lack of right-field pop, Boston still managed to score an MLB-leading 175 runs, so it was no surprise that Ben Cherington downplayed the need for an outfielder to replace Drew.

Now, with the possibility of Crawford missing the start of the season, that need has multiplied. It's time to add a player, unless he's really ready to start the season with Ryan Sweeney, Darnell McDonald and Mike Aviles spending time surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury.

Sweeney, the "throw in" added to the Andrew Bailey deal, is an intriguing addition for the Sox. He's a career .283 hitter who turns 27 Thursday. Yet he's never been an everyday player, and has only played 190 games in the last two seasons combined.

That's why Cherington needs to take the same approach with his outfielders that he took with his starting rotation. He needs to add depth. There isn't a lot of talent on the free-agent market at this point, but there are a couple of players who could help.

Ryan Spilborghs is available after being non-tendered by the Colorado Rockies following his subpar 2011. He hit just .210 with three home runs last season, missing the last three weeks of the season with a heel injury.

Spilborghs could be just the kind of player Cherington has been looking for. He's a career .272 hitter and would be looking to bounce back from his worst offensive season. Much like pitchers Vincente Padilla and Carlos Silva, he's a veteran who may have a high upside.

Plus, he hits right-handed. On a team (and outfield) loaded with lefties, he could be a nice addition.  At worst, he could make a decent platoon with Kalish when he returns.

Cody Ross is another right-handed outfielder still on the market. He was the MVP of the NLCS for the San Francisco Giants just two seasons ago, but fell out of favor when he struggled last season. His offensive numbers have dropped three straight seasons, but he's another candidate to bounce back on a veteran team next year.

It's been clear from the start of the offseason that Cherington wasn't going to spend a lot of money to replace Drew. Pitching, rightfully so, has been the priority.

But Spilborghs and Ross are two options that won't break the bank and would provide outfield depth even if Crawford is able to answer the bell at the start of the season.

Photos via Flickr/SD Dirk

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