Let’s start with the obvious. Who writes a spring training outlook article? Well, I do, and for a few reasons.
Reason 1: who is playing third base?
If your best guess at this point was for your grandma to be out there last night, I’d be half inclined to agree. The Red Sox third base status these past has been something of a Sherlock Holmes case. It’s practically someone new each month. Last year I really thought we had something with Travis Shaw. But his ability to hit a baseball disappeared faster than Falcons fans after Super Bowl 51, and he was shipped off to Milwaukee this past offseason. So now we get to our next candidates.
First up is 94 million dollar man Pablo Sandoval. After questions about his weight and abysmal showing when he actually did play, he got benched. And then sat the entire 2016 season. Now he has a chance to finally play, but he has to win his starting spot first. Next up is Brock Holt, the 8th wonder of the world. Utility man extraordinaire, Holt has played nearly every position for the Sox. I like where he is at, filling in line-up spots when guys need an off day, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him play every day.
The third option is Josh Rutledge, and he is your typical low publicity free agent signing, and I don’t expect much from him.
But lets focus on the positives. And there are a lot.
Lets start with the outfield. Arguably the best out field in all of baseball, the Red Sox outfield consist of the ” Killer Bees”. Andrew Benetendi, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Arguably the best outfield in all of baseball, the Red Sox’ outfield boasts 3 of the most talented players in the game. Benetendi comes into the season ranked as the number one prospect in all of baseball. Betts is ranked as the number two player in all of baseball, and was robbed last year of an MVP award by Mike Trout, who he had all around better numbers than, and Betts rocks a gold chain while he plays. Who’s the real MVP?
Side note: in my opinion there Should be Trout, and then every other player ranked after him. By using this Trout category metric the Red Sox have both the number one prospect in all of baseball, and the number one player in all of baseball. Not too shabby.
Oh and then there’s that guy Jackie Bradley Jr., who was an AL all star last year, and led the A.L in Outfield assist, put outs as a center fielder, and double plays turned by a center fielder. He was also a top 3 finisher for the A.L CF gold glove last year. So yeah, I think our outfield is pretty set.
The final highlight I want to touch on is the pitching rotation. Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, and that fifth starter we’re still looking for. When your first three pitchers are Sale, Price, and last years A.L Cy Young winner Porcello, you have a lot to be happy about. Sale and Price are two of the games best left-handed pitchers, and Rick Porcello just won a Cy Young award for Gods sake. That is great first three. Add in a knuckle-baller to the mix with Steven Wright, and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid first four starters. The Red Sox have a lot of guys fighting for that fifth spot in the rotation, and it will be an interesting story line to follow as spring training progresses. Brian Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens and Drew Pomeraz are, to me at least, the four guys most likely to have a shot at the fifth spot. Pomeranz has spent the most time with the club in the majors, and Rodriguez comes in second. Pomeranz was an All star in 2016, and had the most playing time for the major league club. He is consistent and always gives a solid outing when he pitches. He is definitely the front runner in my eyes for the fifth spot. Owens has had big league time, but hasn’t fared well against big league hitters. I’m looking for him to make the adjustments he needs to get guys out at the big league level.
The last guy is Brian Johnson, and he has had the least major league time out of all of them, appearing briefly during the 2015 season for the Red Sox. He has a lot to prove , and it probably doesn’t help that on the first day of live batting practice in spring training Andrew Benetendi said he would take Johnson deep batting lefty, and on the first pitch did just that. Regardless, the fifth starting spot is up for grabs, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
With these highlights in mind and a solid young core of players as well as an above average bullpen, I’m looking forward to a very solid year from the Red Sox.