Links 3-16-2010: Westmoreland, Lowrie, more ST notes, Nomar, our offense, the farm system

Bad news this week: OF prospect Ryan Westmoreland has been discovered to have a brain malformation, and he has been placed on medical leave. He’s due to have surgery today in Arizona, so let’s all remember him and his family. SS Jed Lowrie is also undergoing tests after feeling weak and experiencing an accelerated heartbeat this week. What is going on with all these repeat injury guys?

Despite earlier claims that he’s better, Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to disappoint Red Sox Nation, as he was scratched from throwing BP today. He threw a 19 pitch bullpen instead. First it was the back, then the neck.. He has been rescheduled for Wednesday, and there is speculation that he will start the year on the DL. David Ortiz, meanwhile, dismissed questions about his Spring hitting and then proceeded to blast a home run against the Orioles today. Nice work, Papi.

Despite the dollars seeming to be hard to swallow, the Red Sox are reportedly closer to an extension with Josh Beckett. Maybe Beckett is willing to give them a significant discount, in which case Theo Epstein would have to listen. My guess is that they’re hammering out the language of the medical clauses in the contract.

Mike Lowell made his Spring debut at first base today and received cheers; he has handled a tough situation with aplomb and respect. On the contrary, Jason Bay got some boos when the Sox faced the Mets for the first time. He thought that was “a little harsh”.

Daniel Bard has been working on his changeup this Spring. That’s not a surprise, given how well lefties fared against him last season; he’ll need improved effectiveness against them in order to succeed as a closer. Southpaws had a .263/.379/.488 slash line in 2009 against the hard-throwing righty, while right-handed hitters managed just a combined .200/.255/.299.

Young Ryan Kalish’s all-out style of play has been drawing comparisions to former Red Sox OF Trot Nixon (in a good way). He’s got the potential to be better both at the plate and in the field, so it’s not hard seeing him becoming a fan favorite, and soon.

The Red Sox made the first round of cuts this week, sending 12 players back to the minor leagues. No huge surprises here, as none of these guys were expected to make the Opening Day roster. SP Casey Kelly and SS Julio Iglesias were both sent back, likely to Double-A Portland. Other players optioned include OF Kalish, SS Che-Hsuan Lin, C Luis Exposito, 1B Lars Anderson, SS Yamaico Navarro, RP Randor Bierd, P Kris Johnson, RP Robert Manuel, P Adam Mills and P Kyle Weiland. With any luck, we’ll see a lot of these guys back up here in a year or two.

All of you, I’m sure, were aware of the Nomar Garciaparra circus this past week. He signed a one-day contract so that he could retire as a Red Sox. The act itself is kind of nice, and Nomar certainly has a great legacy as a player. If only he hadn’t gotten hurt! But it was hard to not feel some resentment at the way he left. Maybe his new job at ESPN had something to do with this?

Still worried about our offense, despite my comforting projections and PECOTA’s bullishness on the Sox? Here’s what some other saber-people are writing, including Bloomberg’s Jonah Keri and FanGraphs’ R.J. Anderson.

According to Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein, the Red Sox finished as the 5th best farm system out there. Another remix of the rankings using BP’s star values has Boston as the 13th best farm system in baseball (Tampa Bay was first overall, and the Yankees were 18th). Not bad, considering the scarcity of very early draft picks every year.


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