Will Carroll
Tuesday March 1st, 2011

Here's the dilemma: The Red Sox brought in Mike Reinold a couple years back as part of their rebuild of their medical staff. Reinold was the "secret weapon" of Jim Andrews' Birmingham facility, working on the highest-profile rehabs and taking part in the cutting edge research. He apprenticed under Paul Lessard and then, as planned, took over in '10, with Lessard moving on to the Reds. The problem is that things didn't go quite as planned. The Red Sox had a load of injuries in 2010 and while it's not something that Reinold or any Trainer could have controlled, it's also not the result that Theo Epstein was hoping for. Reinold's results should shift this year as the roster has become slightly less risky. The Red Sox have "bought some risk" over the past few seasons, counting on their medical staff to hold people together. They took a chance on J.D. Drew a few years back, on Mike Lowell, and even on Rocco Baldelli. Win some, lose some, but it's a sound principle. The Sox need results this year and looking at their risk, The System likes their chances.

(HEAD TRAINER: Mike Reinold; FIVE YEAR RANK: 14; 2010 RANK: 28)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
 
GREEN LIGHT
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Green rated catchers are tough to find, so does The System think Salty is finally going to meet his once-lofty potential? Not really. It thinks that Jason Varitek will get enough playing time to keep Saltalamacchia from taking too much abuse back there, that's all.

SP Jon Lester
After beating cancer, it makes me very happy to see Lester's a green.

Also Green:
LF Carl Crawford
DH David Ortiz
RP Daniel Bard
 
YELLOW LIGHT
1B Adrian Gonzalez
If you balance out the new park and the shoulder injury, Gonzalez is probably going to look about the same for the first few months of 2011 in terms of power. If you buy into Ultimate Zone Rating, Gonzalez isn't as good defensively as Youkilis, so that's an odd little quirk. In fact, he pretty much is Youkilis: an OBP machine with some pop. Having two of those is not a bad thing at all. The shoulder is a worry in the long term, especially if you're counting on the power and RBIs.

2B Dustin Pedroia
The hard charging little infielder almost did himself in last year. By being gritty, gutty, and guh-stupid in the initial stages of his rehab from a broken foot, he could have made things a lot worse. The surgery saved him from himself and now he can explain the rehab process to Tom Brady, who had the same procedure just after the Pats season ended. Pedroia is David Eckstein with talent, but he's got the same issues. If the physical gifts he's been given fade even a bit, he's only got so much grit in him. The foot shouldn't be an issue, but Pedroia's going to have the risk of something else for the rest of his career, cascading right up to the point where he's gone and becomes this generation's Fred Lynn.

SS Marco Scutaro
Scutaro was the anti-Ellsbury for the Sox, possibly in answer to all the medical problems. He played in 150 games despite problems that had him going back to the painkiller and cortisone well a few times more than you'd like to see. Scutaro's not likely to have fewer problems and with a decent enough option in Jed Lowrie, he's likely to miss more games this season.

3B Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis is coming back from a pretty tough wrist injury, so some of the power will be gone. Not crippling, but consider that power comes from bat speed and if we deconstruct this, it would seem logical that a wrist injury saps bat speed. (It's never been tested, sadly.) Youkilis' odd batting stance demands bat speed, so beyond power, it might have more effects. The position change isn't as big a deal as The System thinks it is, but Youk is still a solid yellow. His beard is green, though.

SP Clay Buchholz
The Red Sox waited and waited with Buchholz. He made it past the injury nexus. He made it past some youthful indiscretions, the kind of things involving Penthouse Pets that each of us would do if given the chance. All along, he did what was necessary to progress and when you compare his path to Joba Chamberlain, it's hard to say that what the Sox did was wrong. His innings jump last season was big, but he was 25 and seemed to handle it well. The sore lower back he had at the end of the season is the biggest worry. Better for the Sox, he's barely gotten any service time, so he's cheap and they'll get the best years of his career.

SP John Lackey
If Lackey seemed like a disappointment, you weren't paying attention. He was never an ace, but at the end, Lackey led the Sox in innings and saved the 'pen time and time again. Better, he showed no signs of the elbow issue that marred his last season in Anaheim. There's a slight risk here and he's got a lot of mileage on him.

CL Jonathan Papelbon
In Gran Turismo 5, there's a trophy for driving several laps at virtually the same speed. If baseball had one of those for seasons, Papelbon would get it. He's had nearly identical numbers over the past three seasons despite changing his mechanics and losing his secondary pitches. His battles with pitching coach John Farrell over the changes and his pitch sequencing were notable, so how he meshes with Curt Young could be key.
 
RED LIGHT
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury was called every name in the book last season, all revolving around "soft." I guess he would be a bit softer after breaking some ribs, but I don't think anyone meant it that way. Which is too bad. Ellsbury was Jay Cutler before Cutler was, proving football doesn't have the market cornered on uninformed machismo. All that said, Ellsbury is risky and seems to be a bit slow healing even aside from the rib saga.

RF J.D. Drew
Drew really does get a bad rap for being injury-prone. He has never been the star people wanted him to be, they still hold his hold out against him, and he's just boring, never saying too much or looking up from his bible in the clubhouse. It obscures the fact that he's been a very solid player for a long time. If you back him with a good fourth outfielder, he's even better. In the right circumstances, he could have a late career like Paul O'Neill did. His name even fits the chant.

SP Josh Beckett
Once upon a time, Beckett was a young phenom whose blister problems helped him avoid workload issues. He made it past the injury nexus without too much of a workload issue, timing his best season to a miraculous Marlins run. He's heading into his 11th year in MLB -- pause, take a breath -- and is coming off his worst season. His back problems kept him from spinning the curveball as much (right, Trackman?) and in general, he didn't seem too bothered. Some whispered that he'd lost his edge, that he found love in a rocket scientist (really) and wasn't going to get too fired up over a bad start or seven. Expect a lot of talk about "best shape," "raring to go," and all that noise, but all that counts is whether or not Beckett can throw his curve again.

SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
The Sox spent $100 million to buy a great Japanese pitcher and then said "change." Over the years, everything the Sox and Farrell did to try and rebuild Matsuzaka didn't work. He seems to have lost the touch he had, the dizzying arsenal, and the workload he had in Japan from high school on up seems to be catching up in the way it often does with NPB players. Matsuzaka's still got talent, but let's hope that the Sox don't keep tinkering with what they've already broken.
 

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