Welcome to BP Boston’s second annual Roster Recap series. Over the next few months, we’ll be analyzing every player on Boston’s 40-man roster and many of their top prospects in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the Red Sox roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we can expect moving forward. From MVP-candidate right fielders to reserve relievers, we want to give you a look at every Red Sox who might matter in 2017. View the complete list of Roster Recaps here. Enjoy!
“Sticking to sports” is impossible. Every journalist is a human being, and every human being has his or her flaws; I’m no Christian, but I think they teach something like that. I think it’s a human flaw to be writing about Josh freaking Rutledge when the country is falling apart, and I cannot imagine there’s an enthusiastic readership today for a season recap of a guy who will compete for the Sox’s final roster spot in March — if we, as a society, make it that long. But hey, speaking of flaws: he’s got plenty.
What went right in 2016
The Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals with the unanimous MVP, but that’s about it. As for Rutledge, he played only 28 games due to a right knee injury, batting .265/.345/.388. I guess the six walks in 56 plate appearances were good? I’m not exactly hating the two steals, either, and while the six doubles are nice, it would have been nicer if a few of them went over the wall, because he was in the no homers club. I most think 2016 was good for Rutledge in that he was able to play at all, because that’s not guaranteed for someone of his skill level. Staying above water requires real work, and Rutledge has somehow done it.
What went wrong in 2016
The knee injury was apparently so bad that the Internet can’t figure out which one it was. Was it the left knee, as the Boston Globe reported? Or was it the right knee, as cited in a December MLB.com report? (It was the left one.) Rutledge didn’t play a game after June 14th and opted for free agency in the offseason, at which point he signed a minor league deal to return to Colorado, where he began his career, even if he couldn’t even hit at Coors the first time around. That’s hard to do! It’s even harder when the Red Sox buy back your contract in the Rule 5 Draft, as they did in December, meaning you don’t even play in Coors.
What to expect in 2017
You should expect a protracted, painful five-way “battle” for third base playing time between Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt, Marco Hernandez, Deven Marrero and Rutledge. It’s an example of how desperate the Sox are that they brought Rutledge back in the first place, and given the depth of the competition here, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be the first guy sent packing if this turns into the low-stakes game of Survivor it seems to be. Nothing against Rutledge, because I’d love to be wrong. I’d also like to live a world that made a lick of sense, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m getting them in while I can.
Photo by John Hefti/USA Today Sports Images