Red Sox will make the playoffs in 2015


The biggest obstacle is getting a division title and that is fast becoming secure thanks to the circumstances of a perfect storm of free agent disappearances, notable injuries, lack of depth, New York sitting on the financial sidelines and farm systems that are as barren as Antarctica. But just forget the ills of others in the AL East and think Red Sox.

The Red Sox will encounter their own inevitable roster speed bumps, but few teams in baseball have the available support personnel that Boston has to address any deficiencies. They already have at catcher.

Get ready for October baseball in Boston and at Fenway Park. The karma of baseball will spin favorably to Boston so start saving up your money for those October tickets. And, book a hotel room in LA as they will play the Dodgers. They will not only make the playoffs, but onto the WS. Now, back off the limb and into the realm of why. Start with offense.

Last season was a statistical anomaly for the Red Sox as they were firmly entrenched in the lower echelon in the AL with hitting. This will not be repeated in 2015.

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Start with “The Big Guy,” David Ortiz and his 35 home runs. Ortiz shows no signs of slowing down and this lineup will be a run producer’s paradise. Mookie Betts is right up with Jacoby Ellsbury as a game changer with his speed and tough at bats. Mookie slashed .291/.368/.444 and will start the parade as the Sox lead-off hitter.

Rusney Castillo is showing glimpses in his short stay of just why the Red Sox ponied up 72.5M. This is a potentially five tool player. Then, comes the rebound year for Mike Napoli who is fresh of surgery and geared up for a banner free agent walk season. Toss in a healthy Shane Victorino and Sox have an All-Star caliber player to either start or provide outfield coverage.

Dustin Pedroia appears ready to go and that means a doubles machine and .300 average. Then, toss in newcomers Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, who both rake, and this lineup is loaded. The big question as spring training winds down is what to do with excess talent?

This will be a fireworks display and look for the Red Sox to break the 800 runs plateau.

In 2015 my crystal ball (Amazon for $9.99) sees a resuscitation from the ignominious pitching performance of last season. A resurgence that will provide a plethora of quality starts and some exceptionally deep into games by those entrusted with the starters role.

The Red Sox starters ERA was 4.36 in 2014 – third highest in AL. The team ERA was 4.01. Look for that starter ERA to get under 4.00 – even with Jon Lester gone. This will not be a great staff, but a very good one. That could change with an opportune deal or two.

The Red Sox have no “ace” and enough has been scribbled about teams that have won without that dominant pitcher. Even a Clayton Kershaw can meltdown at playoff time. The Red Sox have two pitchers on a money mission. Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43) and Justin Masterson (7-9, 5.88) are in their prime and realize the dollars being tossed at those capable of tossing 200+ innings and keeping the opposing bats at bay. Money motivates.

Clay Buchholz (8-11, 5.34) is due. When 100% or even 90% Buchholz can actually be elevated to ace status. Just a glance at 2010 shows that or a half season of brilliance in 2013. Buchholz is playing for a tasty fiscal option that the Red Sox hold and he will be tossing towards a tantalizing eight figures. Again, money can motivate.

Wade Miley (8-12, 4.34) was signed to an extended deal for a reason and Joe Kelly (6-4, 4.20) round out the rotation, but the big player is Ben Cherington.

Cherington is not one to sit back and watch things crumble and the Sox have the talent on the roster to make serious moves. The farm system is loaded and other teams salivate over various prospects. Cherington is not shy, as history shows, about pulling the trade trigger. That trade trigger could bring in a high profile pitcher from Philadelphia, Washington or Cincinnati. Cherington can provide a Red Sox minor league talent diaspora to shore up any pending weaknesses.

The bullpen is in flux as it is just about for every team in baseball. Koji Uehara may or may not be ready for opening day. I do not foresee a demise of the closer extraordinaire, but Boston is not in a singular obsession with one closer. Into the closer slot would go Edward Mujica who had 37 saves for St. Louis a few years back and closed the last month of 2014. Alexi Ogando, a former Ranger stud who fell on bad times, appears to have regained that lost form. Junichi Tazawa will be around for another year of quality consistency as will newcomer Anthony Varvaro.

The Red Sox have some real pitching depth in the minors and that provides a backup of both experience and injury protection. Don’t count out Steven Wright.

I may have on my rose colored glasses with attached blinders, but this addition of the Red Sox will be ready for a World Series.

** Statistics courtesy of MLB

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