Red Sox: A revised look at AL East division
By Rick McNair
BOSTON RED SOX
For the Boston Red Sox, the most startling issue facing their rather tepid performance is the sudden power outage. This is the baseball version of the Great Blackout of 1965. Passing on Edwin Encarnacion may be fatal to their chances.
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A definite subset to Boston’s laggard start is the defense as a solid team-wide contribution in 2016 that has now suddenly become the Cleveland Spiders of another era. The mental mistakes abound as do simply making routine plays appear as complicated as quantum physics. And why has Jackie Bradley decided to forgo rifle throws for lollipop tosses?
The second and most important ingredient of the above-mentioned defense is pitching – the front line of defense. The bullpen has been surprisingly reliable and may improve if Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith ever return. The starters have been inconsistent, but Chris Sale may be a lefty version of Pedro Martinez.
The crucial point for a significant Red Sox impact in the AL East dogfight is somehow getting the hitting on track. I don’t expect 200+ home runs or even 150, but top to bottom they collectively seem to have long periods of being MIA. Too many wasted opportunities have left starters – especially Sale – wanting for run support.
I will go out on a prediction limb and see the Red Sox jelling offensively as we get deeper into the season. Too many good bats to have suddenly gone slumping. The pitching will also get a nice talent injection when David Price returns. The cautious Price and Red Sox will not give it a go until he’s 100%.
Strength – Pitching depth. Balanced lineup.
Weakness – Defense is shoddy and potential for lineup failure.
Chances – Still the favorite – 94 wins.