Everyone expected more of the Boston Red Sox last year after they made a couple of big free agent signings in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Turns out both of those guys had awful years and the Sox didn’t have a good year either. Their experiment with many average pitchers didn’t really work out either. With these things said, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts both had coming out seasons and look like they could be two core pieces Boston builds on for years. This year the team gets to start over with a brand new ace in David Price and closer in Craig Kimbrel. Hanley will move over to first base and there are many good looking prospects knocking on the door. Things might be looking up for Boston.
David Price, Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Chris Young (OF), Roenis Elias, Ali Solis, Dan Butler, Chris Dominguez, Ryan LaMarre, Brennan Boesch, Sean O’Sullivan
Wade Miley, Jean Machi, Alexi Ogando, Craig Breslow, Shane Victorino, Rich Hill, Garin Cecchini, Manuel Margot, Jonathan Aro, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje, Logan Allen, Ryan Cook
Biggest Strength - Newly revamped bullpen
The Sox did a great job this off-season of acquiring relief pitchers. Craig Kimbrel is obviously a great pick up as he has been regarded as a top 3 reliever in the league for the past 5 years. They also picked up Carson Smith, who is fantastic. Smith is probably good enough to close for half the teams in the league. Adding those two to a pen already including Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa and you have a recipe for success. Perhaps they saw the value the bullpen brought the Kansas City Royals during their World Series run.
Biggest Weakness - Back end of the rotation
The way I look at it, the Red Sox have two legitimately good pitchers in Price and Eduardo Rodriguez. They will also rely on guys like Rick Porcello, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Henry Owens, Roenis Elias and Johnson. All of these guys have question marks. Heck, putting Eduardo on my "for sure good list" might even be a stretch. Point here is that there are a whole bunch of guys with a lot to prove and the Sox might have a lackluster season if a handful of them don’t perform. Price was a massive addition and was much needed here.
Something to keep an eye on - Andrew Benintendi
This guy is probably my favorite prospect in the league right now. In my time of staring at baseball numbers all day for the past six or seven years, his stats may be the most impressive I’ve ever seen. Benintendi appears to be a 5 tool player with the ability to play center field. There is a chance I am a little over eager here because he has had such a small sample size in the minors, but the numbers are eye popping. In a couple of years, we could be looking at a 30/30 guy with a .400 OBP. The future face of the Red Sox is currently 21 years old and could get the call in 2016 if he performs as well this year as he did last year because he has college experience and Boston does have room to improve in the outfield.
Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^
- Mookie Betts - RF
- Dustin Pedroia - 2B
- Xander Bogaerts - SS
- David Ortiz* - DH
- Hanley Ramirez - 1B
- Pablo Sandoval^ - 3B
- Rusney Castillo - LF
- Blake Swihart^ - C
- Jackie Bradley Jr* - CF
Projected Rotation… Lefties*
Craig Kimbrel - Closer
Robbie Ross Jr*
Fantasy Bargain - Hanley Ramirez
People love to hate on Hanley, but the fact of the matter is that he is one of the best natural hitters in the game over the past decade or so. For Hanley, it seems like it’s just a matter of getting healthy and staying healthy. If and when he is healthy, he will be worth owning and might be able to produce top 10 first baseman numbers.
Overrated Fantasy Option - Mookie Betts
Mookie is good, but he isn’t a first round fantasy pick in my opinion. He’s probably a 20/20 guy with fairly good percentage numbers, but that doesn’t always warrant a top 10 selection in fantasy. Temper your expectations. If he puts down a season better than he did last year, I’ll eat my words. For now, I’m drafting him if he falls to the late second round.
The Red Sox look a little better than they did last year. The fact that they have a real ace at the front of their rotation this time around makes a huge difference. The team is also set up for long term success with several very good looking prospects trying to find their way up to the big league team. Overall, they look like they have a chance to compete for the AL East, but I’m not sure they have all that it takes to fully jump over all the teams they finished behind last season. I predict about 84 wins this year for the Red Sox.