With the trade of the 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and SP David Price, fans have begun to count out the Boston Red Sox for the 2020 season. Firing popular manager Alex Cora doesn’t help the BoSox chances anyway. They put Ron Roenicke in his place for the season. Personally I think it’s for when Alex Cora gets his unfair suspension and comes back to baseball in 2021. But this isn’t about the nothingness the MLB is finding in it’s investigation in Boston, it’s about the Red Sox in 2020. As uninterested as you, the reader, might be about it.
After all of that still, this team still isn’t all that worse than last year. The Red Sox still have Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, Jackie Bradley Jr., and J.D. Martinez. Who were all very serviceable or even great last year. Their bats should be fine after the loss of Betts. We should expect Bogaerts and Devers to continue to grow and become household names in Fenway after having breakout years last year. Bogey hitting .309 and a OPS of .939 and Devers putting up a hitting average of .311 and a OPS of .916. Which led them to the top three of the team. Benny still has room to grow. He’s never been that power hitter with only 13 home runs, and you need power to succeed in baseball. I still have faith in Benintendi. He is a great defensive presence and if his hitting comes up (only batted a .266 last year) he will continue to be a GREAT lead off option.
The biggest concern continues to be the pitching. Chris Sale is getting older and coming off of those awful shoulder and elbow injuries. With an UGLY contract, David Price is gone (good riddance. It’s a shame we had to trade Betts to get a team to take him on), we still have yet to see 2018 World Series hero Nathan Eovaldi’s return to form, Rick Porcello is gone, and Eduardo Rodriguez is still a major question mark on the rotation. Along with the bullpen the Sox don’t have any household names. They haven’t since they let Craig Kimbrel and Joe “I pummel Yankees” Kelly walk after the 2018 World Series. That pitching core is as brutal as it’s ever been. It didn’t get any worse though. Guys like Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman are still around and for what it’s worth, they all had a ERA under 4.00. Some of the only pitchers bullpen to do that.
We also have a couple new prospects in OF Alex Verdugo and SS Jeter Downs (yup, named after that one guy from New York) from the Dodgers. Acquired in the wildly unpopular trade away of Betts and Price (moreso Betts than Price that was unpopular). Verdugo has a ton of natural talent with major upside. Here’s one play from last year where he threw out our good pal Rafael Devers from the outfield.
So how does any of this make them competitive? I just took a major crap over their pitching and just said “well, the rosters just about the same” up and down. Meanwhile they have no manager and it’s almost spring training. There’s a chance that this year maybe we see everybody hit their potential. Even Nathan Eovaldi has said recently that they have a chip on their shoulder and they have something to prove. I’d agree, nobody is expecting much of them. The Sox rotation right now is Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez with the last two slots up for discussion! We have no clue who it will be at this point. We could guess Andrew Cashner and maybe Hector Velazquez who both pitched over a 5.00 ERA, Cashner over 6.00. It’s a terrible spot to be.
Say that Sale comes back strong, E-Rod finally hits his ceiling and stays their for more than half the season and Eovaldi returns to World Series superhero form? The rotation is scary no matter how the last two guys are. Then maybe make a move in the bullpen (Chaim Bloom’s bread and butter in Tampa) and the Red Sox are right back in the wild card hunt.
Losing the “Brock Star” Brock Holt is a major loss. He was the ultimate utility man for the Red Sox during his tenure, and he became the first player to hit for the cycle in the playoffs in 2018 when they tore apart those dirty Yankees 16-1. He was an awesome presence to have on our team and his bromance with Andrew Benintendi will be forever missed by all BoSox fans.
I have a major belief in our bats this year though. Devers and Bogaerts are again, coming off of breakout seasons. There’s no reason to believe that they won’t continue to grow or at least maintain their elite level of play. Say Andrew Benintendi finally meets his ceiling as well. He isn’t a meddler anymore and breaks out, all of a sudden this Red Sox team is scary again. J.D. Martinez is still great and will continue to be our staple DH.
It’s unlikely that everything works out. It almost never does. Look at the New York Yankees last year. Last year was their year to finally make a push and crush everybody. They were bit by the injury bug then bounced by the Houston Astros (screw them, still) in six come playoff time. I’m not saying this Red Sox roster in any universe will be world beaters. Not even close. They’ll be lucky to sniff wild card spots, in the perfect world, that’s what they will be. Their players will meet potential and compete for playoffs. I’m not saying take Red Sox to the playoffs to the bank, because all of this probably won’t happen. If it does? You heard it here first. Don’t be surprised if this team plays out of their minds and are up there with the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays for a wild card spot.
Photo Source : Rick Scuteri / AP Photo