Why Red Sox will miss playoffs in 2015


If you are a Red Sox fan don’t plan on October baseball at Fenway Park. Not happening.

The Red Sox has become somewhat of a sexy choice for a resurgence into the playoffs – if you pay much attention to local and national media. The team has opened the vault and tossed piles of money to shore up deficiencies on the offensive and defensive sides. Top that off with a creme de la creme farm system and you have that warm and fuzzy feeling if you practice selective reading.

Forget it. Not happening.

More from Red Sox News

The game of baseball runs off defense and the prime ingredient of defense is pitching. The Red Sox don’t have it. That went out the door to Chicago.

The mentioned opening day starter is Clay Buchholz and just what is the over/under he goes on the DL after that start? Will Buchholz actually break the magical 25 start barrier? What you see is what you get and based on history Buchholz will repeat what he has always been – an enigma.

Part of the Boston spending spree was former Red Sox Justin Masterson. Masterson gambled on 2014 and ignored an attractive contract offer from Cleveland. Nice gamble. Masterson should stay far away from Foxwoods. Masterson finished up his season with an ERA of 5.88 and a WHIP of 1.63. Who says hitting is slumping?

Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43), Wade Miley (8-12, 4.34) and Joe Kelly (6-4, 4.20) make up the rest of the rotation and the big news is “200 innings” that is usually tossed in when mentioning their careers or, at least, Miley and Porcello. The problem is what they do within those 200 innings.

Porcello is the only one who would be considered a reasonable offering to tag 15+ wins onto his career stats, especially with a free agent windfall on the horizon. Kelly and Miley are good pitchers, not great pitchers. The facts are the Red Sox have not won a World Series or gone deep into playoffs without an “Ace.” Cy Young to Jon Lester. I’ll remain a skeptic on that part of the staff.

What happens when a starter fails?

The Red Sox have a reasonable bullpen, but one I’m not going to get giddy about. The real worry is a 40-year-old closer coming off a late season meltdown. The rest are interchangeable parts who seem to change year to year. You have the few reclamation projects, a security blanket or two incase Koji Uehara sinks, and no one who can come in and toss the gas at 98MPH. If I was prone to surprises I’d go with Alexi Ogando.

In my crystal ball I can see the Sox somewhere around the 10th slot in AL pitching. And, you do not print WS tickets with a staff like that. The positive is the Sox have money and talent and can visit the salvage yard for premium pitching if they are within hailing distance of a playoff slot. Expect Cole Hamels and Jordan Zimmerman to get plenty of ink if the Red Sox need a quality arm.

The offense is intriguing, but when I hear Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts mentioned for potential stars on their lockers I think of exhibit A – Xander Bogaerts and exhibit B – Jackie Bradley. Projections and production are two different items – fantasy comes head-to-head with reality.

In 2014 the Red Sox were in a rather strange place for their offense. The Sox were 11th in runs, 13th in average and 12th in home runs in the AL. Even an 8th place finish in OPS. A team that traditionally just rakes sank.

The power is led by David Ortiz, who at age 39, may continue to pump out 30+ home runs or may finally fall victim to baseball’s Father Time. Maybe that is where Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez step in – if they play enough games?

Is Xander Bogaerts too good to fail? Last season was spotty, especially in the field. Xander needs to step up to that promised land of projections. And, let’s not forget Mike Napoli. Has surgery helped? Will the Red Sox see a walk year bounty?

If the offense stays in one piece and manages to produce as projected the fun times at Fenway could be some double-digit scores. My fear is with the pitching it may be the other teams with the double digits.

The blessing for the Red Sox is the AL East which has lost its “Beast” identity. This is a division where each team has more holes than a mini golf course. Question marks abound with questionable pitching, aging rosters, free agents lost, nasty injuries and farm systems that, for some, are as dry as certain counties in Tennessee. That can only help Boston over the long haul.

Some will fail and some will succeed on the 2015 Red Sox. My figure sits at a .500 season with, just maybe, bagging 85 wins and a whole world of promise for 2016. No last place finish and no first place finish. And no Wild Card from the AL East.

** Statistics courtesy of MLB

More from BoSox Injection