The 2017 MLB season is finally upon us. Last season, the Chicago Cubs broke a 108-year World Series curse. While the Red Sox, in David Ortiz’ final season, flopped in the ALDS, losing to the Indians 3-0. Now the Big Papi-less Red Sox must take on a new face for the franchise, presumably Right Fielder Mookie Betts. Pundits predict a great season for a young Sox team, but without their longtime DH, does the team have what it takes to make it far in the Postseason?
Chris Sale, Starter
In what was arguably the largest move of the off season, the Red Sox gave up one of baseball’s top prospects, Second Baseman Yoan Moncada, and promising Starting Michael Kopech, along with Luis Basabe and Victor Diaz for Chris Sale. Sale is a perennial Cy Young contender, and a true ace for an already strong Sox starting rotation. It was a very hefty price to pay, but Sale is a legitimate #1 starter who finally has the chance to play for a winning club and not a diminishing White Sox organization. In 32 starts last season with the White Sox, Sale went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA, expect big things from the hulking lefty in his first year in Boston.
Tyler Thornburg, Reliever
Thornburg is a young, promising reliever, who will likely slide into the setup role to fill in for the depart of Koji Uehara. Thormburg will, however, start this season on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement. This is a troubling start for Thornburg in his first year in Boston, but expect him to return to the bullpen in the second or third week of the season. In 67 innings last season, Thornburg went 8-5 with a 2.15 ERA and even managed to pick up 13 saves while not being the Brewers primary closer. The Red Sox had to give up starting third baseman Travis Shaw for Thornburg, so expect Pablo Sandoval to start at third this upcoming season.
Mitch Moreland, First Base
Moreland was a late free-agency signing who will not serve as a David Ortiz replacement, as Moreland spent 139 games tending First Base for the Texas Rangers last season, and played limited time as DH. Moreland was brought in to play defense. Last season Moreland only had 2 errors and won a Gold Glove for his defense. Moreland hit 22 homers and had 60 RBI´s in 147 games for the Rangers last season. After spending part of Spring Training on the DL, manager John Farrell said Moreland would be good to go for opening day.
Projected Starting Lineup:
- 2B Pedroia
- LF Benintendi (ROOKIE) (L)
- RF Betts
- DH Ramirez
- 1B Moreland (L)
- SS Bogaerts
- CF Bradley Jr (L)
- 3B Sandoval (S)
- C Leon (S)
- Sale (L)
- Rodriguez (L)
- Owens (L)
Long Relief: Barnes Hembree
Lefties: Ross Jr, Scott, Abad
Disabled: Elias, Pomeranz, Price, Rutledge, Smith, Thornburg
How will David Price respond?
David Price’s first year with the Red Sox wasn’t a disaster but it wasn’t what most expected. Price and his massive 207 million dollar contract was slated to come in and be the Sox premier frontline starter for the next 5+ years. He went 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA in 35 starts with 228 K´s. A rocky start for the talented pitcher. Now Price faces an even bigger challenge, recovering from elbow soreness that has landed him on the 30-day DL. This comes as a good sign as speculation from fans was that Price would need Tommy John Surgery. Thankfully he didn’t and now he must get healthy and come back to help a Red Sox team that as of today, needs pitching. I expect a mid-May return for Price and hopes he reclaims his former glory.
Will the Offense dwindle without David Ortiz?
In his final season in the majors, Big Papi had arguably the greatest final season for any retiring player. Ortiz batted .315 with 38 homers and 127 RBI´s, at the age of 40. Hanley Ramirez will likely split time with Mitch Moreland for reps at first base. Ramirez had a bounce back season, batting .286 with 30 homers and 111 RBI, while primarily protecting Ortiz in the lineup in the 5 hole. The rest of the offense is looking to build on pre-existing success, leaning heavily on Ramirez and Mookie Betts to drive in runs early on in the order. The offense will not be as dominant as it was last season, but it will still be in the top 3 of the league.
How is Pablo Sandoval going to perform?
Sandoval came into last season almost 30 pounds overweight and disappointed fans everywhere in the second year after receiving a massive 5-year 95 million dollar contract. In his only 3 games last season, Sandoval didn’t even manage a hit before getting a shoulder injury that ended his season. That was last year. This year Sandoval came in much slimmed down and looking to change the minds of Red Sox fans. Sandoval, so far, is off to a good start. In Sring training, Kung Fu Panda batted .338 with 5 homers and 20 RBI´s in 21 games manning the hot corner. Its a very promising step in the right direction for the Red Sox to get more production from a third baseman after losing Travis Shaw in the Tyler Thornburg trade. Optimistically Sandoval has the upside to bat around .270 with 20-22 home runs and 75 RBI´s in a juggernaut Red Sox offense that will play its first season without David Ortiz.
Placing: 1st in the AL East, 2nd in the AL
Outlook: World Series or Bust.