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Act II Begins on Friday
Last March, the 14th to be exact, I posted a column during Red Sox spring training from Ft. Myers. In that column I mentioned that I was leaving sunny FLA for the rather unusually warm weather of the Northeast. But, before I left for home, I had some final thoughts on the state of the Red Sox as I saw them and, in particular, a non-roster invitee short stop by the name of Pedro Ciriaco. The following is the exact wording from that column:
I went to the Red Sox vs. Orioles in Sarasota last Sunday and there was this shortstop who made an amazing diving catch of a grounder that had "base hit" written all over it, and then threw the batter out at first. My buddy who was with me at the game asked me, "Who is that guy? Number 77, who is he?" The next day my buddy and I were at Jet Blue Park where we watched the Red Sox and the Miami Marlins duke it out and Number 77 relayed a throw from center field and threw the runner out at home. Later on in the bottom of the tenth inning with the score tied at 3, number 77 hit a booming fly ball, clearing the southern Green Monster by at least 50 feet for a two-run, walk-off win. I'm not sure that ball has even landed yet. Folks, meet Pedro Ciriaco, a non-roster invitee who has been signed to a Red Sox minor league contract. Hailing from the Dominican Republic where he has played winter ball for the past few seasons, he was signed by the Diamondbacks in 2003 and was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system for 2010 and 2011, where he made a total of 31 major league appearances. He now seems to be thriving in the Red Sox system. As we all know by now we can never have too many shortstops because as soon as we get a good one we trade them, but as far as I'm concerned this kid ("kid" - he'll be 27 in September!) is a keeper. He has talent and I really believe he is a five-tooler. My advice to Bobby V and company is hang on to this guy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Ciriaco should plan on renting an apartment in Pawtucket on a monthly basis without a long-term lease because I think during the regular season he is going to need to find a place in Boston to hang his new Red Sox hat. He is that good!
Most of the comments I received about Ciriaco after that column was posted were that anyone can have a good spring training but when they get to the majors they usually don't do as well and are shipped back to AAA or even AA after a few weeks. Well, that may be true, we'll see in a few weeks-but for right now I think Ciriaco is the real deal, will always be the real deal, and should be kept in the Red Sox line-up for the next, oh, maybe 3 or 4 years! With apologies to Mike Aviles who has done an admirable job, and with very few apologies to Jose Iglesias who is hurt and on the DL (find me a Red Sox player who isn't hurt and on the DL and now THAT will be a story), the Red Sox have found their shortstop. Iglesias has an amazing glove but so does Ciriaco. Iglesias is fast but so is Ciriaco. What separates the two is that Ciriaco can hit big-league pitching and Iglesias cannot. His few plate appearances in Fenway were dismal whereas Ciriaco has dazzled the fans. How many times have you heard a call-up's name chanted by the Fenway Faithful? This guy needs to stay and we need him to stay.
The general consensus around the majors is the Red Sox need to unload some of the dead weight and the money drain they have and use players like Ciriaco, Lavarnway (although I still really like Saltalamachia), and Middlebrooks, while dumping guys like Beckett, Ellsbury (who the Red Sox absolutely will not sign in 2013 even though he's going to be a bigger superstar than he is now), Lackey (what a waste he is), and Lester (who has become the biggest disappointment yet this season). I still think Buchholz and Gonzalez have a chance at greatness, just not this season - but, hopefully I'm wrong. Crawford is anybody's guess. What a colossal flop he's turned out to be. Truth be told, I really like Nava in left, Ross in right and I hope they stay there. If Ellsbury comes back and does his magic in center let's use him for all he's got for the rest of this season before he leaves for the big money he's going to demand in 2013. Or better yet, trade Ellsbury and Lester for Felix Hernandez as has been suggested by many other sports writers. Both Ellsbury and Lester are from Washington State and they could go home and play for the Mariners and we could get a quality starting pitcher that we so desperately need.
There is one person who needs to stay and that is Bobby V. I know he can ruffle feathers and is not the most diplomatic manager there is but I would love to see what he could do with a team that is healthy. One can only hope.
for now Peace and....
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