The baseball season is still months away, but Red Sox fans like me are ready for the 2016 season. The winter meetings, a four-day business meeting of all MLB teams, take place in December and get true fans eager for opening day. Talks range from owners considering expansion teams, general managers talking trades and presidents of baseball operations discussing rule changes. Mostly, the Sox are at the meetings to keep improving their roster, although president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said the Price signing was the last “big move.”
Now, I’m very curious to see what his definition of a “big move” is. So let’s break down the Sox roster. First base is a very interesting position because there is a a lot of uncertainty. Hanley Ramirez was brutal in left field last season so his time in the outfield is over. Hanley’s value is fairly high based on his ability to hit the baseball. The Red Sox tried to trade Hanley during this past offseason. The question going into to the year will be if they Sox don’t trade him, can he play well enough to stick around for the 2017 season? If so, then he would be able to serve as designated hitter when longtime Red Sox DH David Ortiz retires after this season. The position is Hanley’s if he’s not traded before then. Travis Shaw is the backup but could very well start for this team. He’s a great fielder and has a fairly good bat. As last season showed Shaw is a streaky hitter. He goes on stretches where he has one of the best bats in the American League but also times where he largely struggles at the plate.
At second base is caption Dustin Pedroia. We all know Pedroia for having dirt all over his jersey and working extremely hard. His production has been down in the past few years because of injuries, including a wrist injury that has affected his batting in a negative way. Dustin is still a fan favorite and one of the hardest working players in all of baseball. His injuries and age could become an issue but his work ethic will not. Backup is infielder and outfielder Brock Holt. Brock last season played every single position except for pitcher and catcher. He batted better than most fans expected as he filled in for just about anyone who can’t play on a given day. I basically would list him for every position but we will just say he plays just about everything.
At shortstop, the Red Sox have unbelievably talented Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts struggled in the 2014 season at third base and the plate. In 2015 it was the exact opposite as he moved to shortstop and was easily the best fielder the Sox had all year. He was also the team’s best hitter, with key contact but clutch hits as well. Backup would be Brock Holt.
Playing third base last season was Pablo Sandoval in his first year with the Sox. Once a very good player for the San Francisco Giants, expectations were high for both Hanley and Sandoval and both disappointed. Pablo moves well at the hot corner for a player of such a large size. But last season, he did not even come close to playing well enough to ensure his future with the Red Sox. Pablo and Hanley’s future in Boston are both uncertain but both can be major contributors to the Sox’s success if they’re able to turn around after their unproductive 2015 season.
The outfield is the strong point and the center of the youth movement of the Boston Red Sox. Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo all make up the Sox outfield. My projection to where these three will play is that Castillo will be in left field, Mookie in center and Jackie in right. Last season all three played all three positions in the outfield.
The starting pitching has improved greatly with the addition of just one player. The addition cost $217 million but should be worth every penny. David Price is the ace of the Red Sox pitching staff. Number two in the rotation should be veteran Clay Buchholz. After Clay should be Rick Porcello, who in his first year with the Red Sox last year underperformed greatly. Not to the degree of Pablo and Hanley but expectations are high in Boston and if you don’t perform, many question marks start to surround you. Four and five in the rotation should be Edoardo Rodriguez and Joe Kelly. Knuckleballer Henry Owens could rotate in for injuries or the team could go with a six man rotation, although that’s unlikely with Price now on the team. The Red Sox added great closing pitcher Craig Kimbre in the offseason and that’s a huge addition. The rest of the bullpen is very strong with names like Robbie Ross Jr. Tommy Layne, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara who look to have a great season as one of the deeper bullpens in baseball. Come April, Fenway will be as riveting as ever, and come October, the Sox could be World Champs.