By: Adam Pasternak
After an incredibly eventful offseason, Spring Training is finally here! The players have all reported to their respective Spring Training facilities and the 2016 MLB season is only a month and a half away. Over the next couple of weeks we will cover all 30 MLB teams and talk about what’s in store for the coming season. Today, we talk about the Boston Red Sox!
Just two winters ago, the Boston Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and were “destined” for greatness. Fast forward to the end of the 2015 MLB season, and the Red Sox finished dead last in the AL’s toughest division. Coming into this years Spring Training, the Sox are looking to turn things around with some help from, yet again, a few big name additions. Continuing his tour of AL East teams, and now joining Boston on a massive 7 year, $217M contract, is David Price, who is joined by newly acquired closer – Craig Kimbrel. GM Mike Hazen is hoping a clean bill of health, along with some inspiration from the soon retiring David Ortiz, will help them get back into to the hunt come October.
The lineup in Boston will remain mostly the same, but defensively there have been some adjustments. After struggling in left field last season, Hanley Ramirez has been moved over to first base in hopes of creating less risk of injury and hopefully better production. Across the diamond at third, is Pablo Sandoval – who has come into camp looking awfully large. Like Hanley, he is also looking to turn things around after a disappointing first season in Boston. If he can get his weight down in Spring Training and get off to a fast start come Opening Day, it would put the Red Sox in a good position later in the season. Next to Panda at short is the young and sensational Xander Bogaerts. After coming off a season that saw him hit for a .320 average, the star in the making will look to back his numbers up with what he hopes to be a big 2016 season. The potential for him is endless, and it should scare the rest of the AL. As usual, manning second is Dustin Pedroia, who is now the clear leader on this Red Sox team. He plays the game the right way, and is always dangerous at the plate. Apart from the addition of Chris Young (the outfielder, not the pitcher on the Royals), the outfield looks to be the same as last season. The Red Sox brass are hoping that the trio of Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts can improve this year and really take the next step in their careers. With Brock Holt and Chris Young slated behind them on the depth chart, there really isn’t any time for them not to produce. It will be interesting to see how these five outfielders play during the Spring Training and to see what the starting outfield will look like come Opening Day.
Leading the much improved rotation for the Red Sox this year, is the aforementioned David Price. After taking the Blue Jays to the next level last season, he looks to do the same with the Red Sox this year. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that he will, which is really bad for the other four AL East squads. I truly do think that David Price can have success on any team in the MLB, and strongly believe his tenure in Boston will be successful. It will be interesting to see though how the rest of the pitching staff behind him plays out. They need the rest of their pitchers to provide the depth in the rotation in order to make a deep playoff run. It all starts with Clay Buchholz, who has had many ups and downs over the years but is still a great starting pitcher in the league. If he can regain his top form and finally have a healthy season, it would help the Red Sox immensely. Behind him in the rotation is Rick Porcello, who actually had a decent 2015 season winning nine games last year. It will be interesting to see if he can improve on a solid 2015 campaign and take it to another level this year. Rounding out the rotation is the young Eduardo Rodriguez and Joe Kelly. With the help of David Price, and a healthy Clay Buchholz – the Red Sox starting staff should be able to do enough damage to make the Sox competitive again.
The revamped bullpen will be huge for them this year, and leading them is the newly acquired closer Craig Kimbrel. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to his second new team in as many years, and how he fairs against the power hitting of the AL East. Spring Training will be very important for him as he needs to feel comfortable on his new team. It’s not easy being in a new clubhouse three different times in what’s still only a young career. He will have the help of the veteran’s Koji Uhera and Junichi Tazawa who will be essential for the Red Sox in the 7th and 8th innings. The rest of the bullpen isn’t set in stone yet, and so it will be interesting to see what happens over the course of Spring Training.
The Sox looked poised to put themselves back into contention, but at the end of the day it will all depend on if the big name players can produce, and most importantly if they can stay healthy and on the field. The only guarantee I can make you is that this year’s competition for the AL East crown is going to be one of the best in many years.
What did you think of the Red Sox offseason? Did they make a mistake in spending over $30M a year on David Price? Will they get back into top form and make a push for a World Series Title? Comment below!
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