BSI roundtable: Mookie Betts or Shane Victorino for Red Sox right fielder?
2013 World Series hero Shane Victorino‘s 2014 season was marred by injury. While the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” was shut down for the year due to back surgery, the electric Mookie Betts put up great numbers in his audition between the outfield and second base. With the Red Sox outfield full of new players, is the veteran Victorino still a factor? Has Betts eclipsed him? Or, will either or both of the players be traded before the season begins?
We asked the BSI staff, who is the Opening Day right fielder for the Boston Red Sox in 2015?
Will Ossoff: Shane Victorino. After a season lost to injury, Victorino is a forgotten piece in a crowded Sox outfield that features new and more exciting pieces like Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts. Don’t count Shane out just yet. Betts’ trade value is sky-high right now, and his name has been mentioned in more than a few Cole Hamels trade scenarios. Allen Craig has to prove that he can hit above .130 in Boston before he should be allowed to start. And Giancarlo Stanton is, sadly, still a pipe dream. That leaves the door open for Victorino, a competitive fiend who will fight tooth and nail to rehab his back and win the starting job. Furthermore, he’s entering a contract year, and the soon-to-be 34-year old will likely try to cash in on one more deal before he hangs up the spikes. Expect to hear Bob Marley on a daily basis once again next April.
Victor Barbosa: Mookie Betts. I would say Stanton, but there are two key reasons as to why I am avoiding the Marlins slugger. Number one, the talent and personnel the Sox would have to give up in order to acquire Stanton would likely be hefty. Number two, despite the greatness and intrigue in Stanton (one of the most exciting players in the game), you never know how a scary injury like the one he suffered in September will affect him long term. Betts is a great in-house option to fill right field and was far and away the most successful Sox rookie in 2014. Let’s see if he can translate that to a solid full season as an every day player.
Sean Sylver: Shane Victorino. To quote Whitney Houston, I believe the children are our future, but for right now, the veteran remains the starter. The beauty of having Cespedes and Craig is that the outfield going into 2015 boasts proven veteran talent, which it couldn’t said after Victorino got injured last year. Whether or not Cespedes is still here, or where Craig fits, is still unresolved. But there are two candidates for right field and Victorino gets nod based on track record. Castillo patrols center and Betts, who has the ability to play multiple positions, grabs some at-bats off the pine.
It would be in Boston’s best interest to make at least one offseason trade involving an outfielder. Teams won’t be lining up to assume the injury-plagued Victorino’s $13 million. So he’s more valuable to the Sox. Doors will open for Betts.
Rick McNair: Mookie Betts. Betts did what was expected of Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts. He is simply on the road to being a dynamic game changer. Betts’ rise through the system has been well documented, and expect it to continue as he has a hitter’s brain. Victorino can provide excellent insurance in the outfield in case of injuries, trades or performance issues.