The bench remains the largest need for the Red Sox going into the 2008 season. The Red Sox have every regular position filled, and barring a late innings righty reliever, they have their bullpen set as well. On the 25-man roster, that leaves three positions to be filled. They are a backup catcher, a backup infielder for the corners, and a backup outfielder.
Epstein has been quoted saying he's looking at "a half-dozen" players to fill those roles. And today, the Providence Journal helped to shed a little light on who those players might be. The Journal listed Ryan Klesko, Corey Koskie, Jeff Cirillo, Olmedo Saenz, and Russel Branyan as options. Here are some brief scouting reports on those players, many of which you're likely not that familiar with.
Russell Branyan - Branyan can play the corners in both the infield and outfield. Though, Branyan is a below average defensive player at any position. Branyan's greatest asset is his raw power. His greatest flaw is his low contact and high strikeout rates. Branyan has struggled offensively the last few years and last year hit only .197/.322/.426. He's not likely to be one of the Red Sox preferred options.
Jeff Cirillo - Cirrillo plays the corner infield spots and is a plus defensive player. He typically mashes left-handed pitchers. Last year, he only hit .271/.321/.429 against lefties but he hit at least .400 against lefties the two previous years. He can also come up with the big hit, having hit .340/.375/.500 last year with runners in scoring position.
Ryan Klesko - Klesko is another defensively challenged power hitter. Klesko can play first base and left field. Ofeensively, he's more appealing than Branyan because of his OBP. Last year, Klesko got on base at a rate of .344. He has a lifetime OBP of .370. He typically wears down in the second half, although he may not wear down as much in a bench role.
Corey Koskie - Koskie's not likely to be an option. Last year, he suffered from postconcussion syndrome and didn't play in a signle game. He may retire before the 2008 season. Koskie plays only third base but he's a decent hitter, having hit .261/.343/.490 in 2006. He's also an above average defensive player.
Olmedo Saenz - Saenz plays both of the corner infield spots, although he does so to a mediocre degree. He had an off year offensively in 2007, to the tune of a .191/.295/.435 line. His greatest asset is his ability to hit lefties. He's had an OPS over 1.000 against lefties in two of the last four years. Last year, Saenz hit lefties at a rate of .397/.457/.741.