Apr 1, 2015; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstopHanley Ramirez
(13) connects for a double during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Red Sox
Predicted Ranking: 1st Place
Spring Training Record: 17 wins, 12 losses, 2 ties
- Starting catcher Christian Vazquez is the biggest factor in questions being asked of the Red Sox, as he is out for the season, after recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had April 2nd. With multiple veteran and prospect catchers ready and willing to fill in the void, the issue will be more about how games will be called than offensive or defensive skills. Likely manager John Farrell or a member of his staff will call pitches, but the catcher who handles the pitching staff the best will be the undisputed starter for the rest of the season. Ryan Hanigan is the man of the hour, for now.
- Koji Uehara‘s left hamstring was still in a state of discomfort, during a bullpen session on March 30. His return is reported as possible in April, but will likely not be for the first few weeks of the regular season.
- Joe Kelly is scheduled for a mid-April return after suffering a right biceps strain. Considering that it is his throwing arm, Kelly should be watched carefully for his release point and pitch count.
- Rotation – Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, Steven Wright
- Many of the starters will be bouncing back from a poor showing in 2014. However, if they play to their strengths, their potential on paper looks to be one of the best rotations in baseball.
- Look to see the starters logging a lot of innings, as Farrell’s strategy for the last two years has been to wear out other teams, by making opposing pitchers throw a lot of pitches in each at-bat. With Uehara’s health in question, the Red Sox will only want to use their own bullpen when absolutely needed.
- Declared Closers – Koji Uehara and Edward Mujica
- Middle Relievers- Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, Alexi Ogando, Tommy Layne, Anthony Varvaro, and Robbie Ross Jr.
- With Koji’s injury, Mujica will get the chance to close games. However, his status is based on the fact that the other relievers have very little to no attempts at the closer role. Varvaro, coming from the Atlanta Braves, looks to be positioned as an arm Farrell could trust, if Mujica doesn’t pan out. Varvaro gave up only a run in more than 8 innings of work, this spring, while striking out 7 batters. His innings have been quick, much like how a closer is to operate. In the same amount of innings, Mujica has given up 5 runs, 4 earned, with 4 strikeouts.
- C – Ryan Hanigan, 1st Base – Mike Napoli, 2nd Base – Dustin Pedroia, 3rd Base – Pablo Sandoval, ShortStop – Xander Bogaerts, Left Field – Hanley Ramirez, Center Field – Mookie Betts, Right Field – Shane Victorino, DH – David Ortiz
- Sandy Leon was recently brought in, after news of Vazquez started to break, and will back up Hanigan. Leon’s time in the majors has been a whole 34 games, hitting a mere .189, but a .992 career fielding percentage is proof that he was added for his defensive skills, only. He’s a backup, not a designated hitter. Relax!
Player(s) To Watch in 2015:
- Rusney Castillo. Yes, Castillo was sent down to Triple-A, but that was because the Red Sox still had a minor league option for him. If Victorino has major issues, once again, do not expect Daniel Nava or Brock Holt to be the permanent replacement. Castillo would likely move Betts, who has had an amazing year and spring training, to right field while taking center field, himself. Farrell has been well-documented in his faith in Victorino being the starter, yet the right-fielder still hasn’t provided proof that he deserves the manager’s words, hitting .190 in 42 at-bats, this spring. It’s a smart move by Farrell, making Victorino and his old teammates comfortable that he has their backs. If Castillo lights up Triple-A pitching, as he’s expected to do, Red Sox Nation may demand that the change happens sooner, rather than later.