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Thursday, December 29, 2011
Do Red Sox have enough offense in RF?

By Joe McDonald

Ryan Kalish, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard
The addition of Andrew Bailey makes it all the more likely Daniel Bard, right, will join the Red Sox's 2012 rotation, but it also means Ryan Kalish, left, could be a part of a right-field platoon.
The Red Sox were able to shore up the right field position a little bit by acquiring outfielder Ryan Sweeney as part of their trade with the A's for Andrew Bailey.

GM Ben Cherington admitted that the Red Sox have tried in the past to acquire Sweeney, and now that this deal is complete, his presence will add outfield depth.

"We expect Ryan Sweeney to be a big part of our outfield next year," Cherington said. "He can play right field and he's a good defender. His defense and versatility is quite like Reddick, he can play all three outfield spots and do it well. Sweeney played in a big ballpark in Oakland and handled it well. We also like his offensive approach to Fenway, he's got an opposite-field approach."

The Red Sox still have Darnell McDonald and Mike Aviles on the roster. McDonald has performed well the last couple of seasons for the Red Sox, and Aviles is a proven utility man who can play both the outfield and the infield. In fact, the Red Sox sent Aviles to play winter ball in Puerto Rico in order to get work in the outfield.

There's also prospect Ryan Kalish, who missed the majority of last season at the Triple-A level due to neck and shoulder injuries. Kalish, however, underwent surgery in November to repair a labrum tear in his left shoulder and isn't expected to be ready by Opening Day.

Even as J.D. Drew's offensive numbers began to decline the past few seasons in Boston, he still patrolled right field at Fenway Park as well as anyone has in recent history. But the Red Sox need an offensive threat from that position and general manager Ben Cherington knows that.

A combination of Sweeney, McDonald, Aviles and Kalish will do the job defensively, but can they provide what the club is looking for offensively? The Sox want production in the range of .280 to .290 average, 15-20 homers and at least 70 RBIs, but it's unclear whether the current crop of right field options can reach those parameters.

Does that mean Cherington could go after soon-to-be free agent Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes?

The Red Sox held a private workout with Cespedes in the Dominican Republic earlier this month and Cherington was intrigued with the slugging outfielder. That doesn't mean, however, that ownership will allow the GM to put in a bid for Cespedes; especially if Cherington is expected to keep the offseason acquisitions relatively inexpensive, as he has so far.

If Cherington believes Cespedes could make a major impact offensively, the GM could convince John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino for the necessary resources to acquire the unproven Cuban slugger.

The idea of bringing a player like Cespedes to Boston is an interesting concept. Best-case scenarios, his presence could work two-fold. If he succeeds and becomes an every-day player in the big leagues, he could also help the development of a fellow Cuban defector and Red Sox prospect: shortstop Jose Iglesias, who is on the verge of a major league career.

The 21-year-old has incredible defensive abilities and instincts, but his offense hasn't developed quite yet. Maybe having Cespedes around could help Iglesias reach that next level.

Either way, the Red Sox need an offensive threat in right field.