How Big a Bet Will the Red Sox Place on Kalish?

One of the big decisions the Sox face this winter is how big a bet they want to place on Ryan Kalish. The kid is close. Really close. But is he close enough that the Sox are willing to pass on some big ticket free agents, absorb some growing pains, and go all in on Kalish for 2011? In other words …. is this The Guy?

A few more nights like last night and the answer will be clear as Kalish slammed a granny, rifled one back up the middle, drew a walk and stole a couple of bags. With nights like that, it is easy to see why Theo Epstein would make a big bet on Kalish and pencil him in for 450 at bats next year in left field.

But here is the rub. Kalish has less than 100 at bats at the major league level. Throw in the fact that he skipped through the International League without so much as slowing down and you have a kid that has less than a half-season above the Eastern League. And you are ready to hand him the keys to left field? The same left field that has been manned since 1939 by Teddy Ballgame, Yaz, Jim Rice, and ManRam? It’s probably the most hallowed position in the sport and the Red Sox are going to hand it over to Ryan Kalish?

You betcha.

I realize it is hard to break in kids in big markets like Boston. Especially at offensive positions where growing pains are tough to stomach. But what are the alternatives? I guess the most obvious move is to go big and sign Jason Werth for the next four years. This will cost $60M. But it will buy a year for Kalish to slowly grow into Boston and come 2012, he would be primed to take over for Drew in right. At that point, you have Kalish in right, Werth in left and either Ellsbury in center, a player who was received for Ellsbury or a couple of internal candidates (Lin/Reddick). That shapes up as a good and still affordable outfield.

That is the safe bet. But I don’t think it’s the way Boston is headed. Instead, I think the Sox will put a big bet behind Kalish in 2011 and he will open as their starting left-fielder. Cameron will be around to shoulder some of the load but Cam will need to cover all of Drew’s at bats against left-handers so I think Kalish will be generally left to sink or swim.

I can’t tell you he will swim right away. After all, what outfielders, other than maybe a Jason Heyward, just explode on the scene? But I don’t think he will sink either. And that is not simply because he has had a few moments this season. In fact, he has looked pretty bad at times. But despite some struggles, I love what I have seen so far. Yeah, it would be easier to make a move on Werth. But Kalish looks to me like a guy worth betting on. And while this bet might not look great next April or next May, I think it will turn out well.


I don’t have a ton to say about last night’s game. Lester had a rough third inning but settled down nicely, the lefties finally found a righty they could tag, the kids (not named Ryan) struggled mightily, and Robert Coello may have had the worst Fenway debut of the 21st century. Net net, the Sox had a nice night and moved a game closer to locking up their thirteenth winning season in a row but I wouldn’t expect a repeat performance tonight. After all, it’s Price on tap and that means death for Ortiz and Drew. And with Daisuke going, it seems unlikely that the Sox will be able to raise Tampa’s heartbeat even a few ticks.

* That was my first glimpse of Lars Anderson and I wasn’t exactly blown away by my first impression. No worries as it was his first night but he had some awful swings.

* Robert Coello wasn’t just bad. He was pitiful. Joe Maddon had run the white flag up the pole, pulling his starters, and Coello still couldn’t throw a strike. I saw this guy pitch back in May for Portland and my comment at the time was: “he will never make it to the bigs.” I guess I was wrong but I stand by my assessment.  

* Was there any doubt that Dustin Richardson was going to enter that game and not walk in ANOTHER run? Dusty has a lot to do if he wants to become a big-league reliever and it all starts with throwing strikes. Once he learns that, it might help if he came down a bit and started going 3/4s or 5/8s.

* You think Joe Maddon was thrilled that Ryan Kalish was stealing bases with the Sox up six or seven runs?



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9 responses to “How Big a Bet Will the Red Sox Place on Kalish?

  1. KWD

    Do you think Kalish can stick in center? If so, it probably makes sense the get Werth for left in 2011 then right in 2012. I think Kalish has more upside than Ellsbury.

    • I don’t really think Kalish is a natural CF and I don’t love the idea of trading Ells on his lows. But if they decided to move JE, Kalish could definitely fill in there for 2011 and any growing pains wouldn’t be as noticeable as they would be in LF or RF. Another wildcard here is Reddick, who simply mashed since July 1. And he CAN play CF. Best case, they would have Kalish, Reddick and a RH-hitting third OF for 2012, whether that is Werth or someone else. Lot of moving parts here and it really boils down to the fact that Theo will have to make a big bet on his Farm this winter. Does he bring in guys? block guys? trade guys? Show faith? I don’t envy him.

      • KWD

        I know reddick has heated up in AAA the last month. He attributes it to going home over all star break and relaxing according to AB of Globe. He reminds me of Moss-don’t think he is long term answer.

  2. I think Reddick is a lot more “toolsey” than Moss. Can hit LH pitching, good arm, nice defensive speed. Live bat just don’t know if he has the approach/discipline to succeed in Boston. He very well could be a chip in another deal. Another interesting name would be Colby Rasmus in STL. He seems to be playing himself off the team and a Ellsbury for Rasmus trade makes some sense as both could probably use a new home.

  3. Mister Snitch!

    “The same left field that has been manned since 1939 by Teddy Ballgame, Yaz, Jim Rice, and ManRam?”

    I heard some pundit the other day saying the Sox were always on the lookout for the next Ted Williams… or at least a Mike Greenwell. Even though they’ve had Hall of Fame players at other positions, there’s something about left field that determines The Greatness of Sox teams. (Maybe The Wall has something to do with it.)

    At this point, a left fielder has to live up to the legends who came before. Which is a problem, because Ells is (presumably) the left fielder next year. They won’t trade him, and it’s probably safe to assume his ribs WILL eventually heal. (Plus, the cause of his injury is going elsewhere.)

    At the same time, Kalish belongs in left, not CF. So, what happens next year? Probably this: The Sox give up on their experiment with Ells in left, and instead platoon him in center with Cameron (who also, will presumably be healed). Either McDonald or Nava (probably Mac) may stick to inevitably spell Drew in right, until someone emerges from the minors to replace Drew at his contract’s end. I imagine Hall will be released and the Sox will bank on Lowrie as their Super Utility Guy.

    I don’t know if Kalish will be Greenwell or Yaz. But he doesn’t seem to be afraid of a challenge, so call him a pheenom, put him out there and see how he does.

    I don’t see any interest in Werth (not, uh, werth it), because all this seems to fall pretty naturally into place. The real questions in my mind are:

    (1) What becomes of Varitek, V-Mart, Salty, Papelbon, and Ortiz?

    (2) Will our second and first basemen and shortstop return in good form, or are they broken worse than we know?

    (3) Who’s on third?

    • “Who’s on third” is the big question for me. Once you tell me that, I think I can mix and match the rest. But boy, I don’t have a clue how they will settle that one. Is it going to be Beltre? Youkilis? Lowrie/Hall? An Inge-type? I will be dealing on this in the coming months but as far as I can tell, this is the biggest decision for 2011 and beyond.

      And forgetting 3B for a minute, I am not so sure Hall draws the short stick next year. Clearly, his option won’t be picked up but here is a guy who can give you some flex in the infield, and give you some protection for Drew, who needs help against lefties. So Cameron, Hall and Lowrie might not be a bad bench. (Darnell can give you some of that as well but Hall does bring the abiltiy to play the infield [poorly] and that might give him a leg up.)

  4. Mister Snitch!

    “I am not so sure Hall draws the short stick next year”

    Sox management DOES seem to like Hall, despite his tendency to kick the ball around. (Good grief, so did Scoot and even Beltre now and then, and with Youk and Pedey MIA for awhile, that allowed Hall to hide a little bit.)

    Anyway I can see where Hall could stick. On the other hand, Darnell really showed ’em something, coming up big in many clutch situations. Keep ’em both?

    I thought Lowrie, despite some hiccups, looked like a keeper this year.

    Also, I’d like to correct my earlier statement. Who’s not on third. As anyone can tell you, ‘I don’t know’ is on third.

  5. Mister Snitch!

    Just to be clear:

    The Sox could move Who to third. In which case, I Don’t Know would be on first.

    And typically, Sox fans expect What on second and I Don’t Give a Darn at short.

    Why and Because are a whole ‘nother story.

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