Red Sox: Four reasons that will determine a winning or losing season
Solid defense is a plus
In 2017, the Red Sox were the best defensive team in the American League. Yes, I know, that can be weighted by a spectacular outfield, but they did the job. That said the outfield is back in full force and maybe Jackie Bradley will finally win a Gold Glove? The key is having viable defensive replacements and the Red Sox have that on their bench.
New manager Alex Cora knows defense since it was a key ingredient in keeping him in the majors. Cora will with his coaching staff work diligently on defensive improvement in key places and that means special attention to Rafael Devers. The Red Sox also have a catching tandem that is exceptional defensively so there are no worries with the backstop position.
The Red Sox have a proven replacement commodity in Brock Holt. Holt is fully recovered from his ongoing concussion and vertigo issues. His value is he can play anywhere and probably catch if needed. Don’t discount the equally versatile Tzu-Wei Lin who showed superior defense last season for the Red Sox. Late inning replacements who could tighten down late inning defense.
Expect this defense to once again be ranked number one or very, very close to it.
The defense is an Illusion
No worries with the backstop? Right now, the emergence of Blake Swihart could mean Sandy Leon and his solid “D” goes elsewhere. Swihart as a spot catcher? Swihart at third? Swihart in left? And let’s talk left the side. Devers and Xander Bogaerts are a Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) nightmare. A combined -16 in 2017. As for errors Devers had 14 in just 507.2 innings. Put J.D. Martinez in left and that is Moe, Larry, and Curley on the left side. They better hit and hit well to make up for the sieve potential.
The Red Sox will open the season with Eduardo Nunez at second and Nunez is at best average defensively. Then toss in Hanley Ramirez at first base and Shakespeare surfaces as in “The Comedy of Errors.” That infield alignment has the potential for being the worst in recent Red Sox memory.
And when Dustin Pedroia comes back? What used to be the little engine that could now become a Ford Pinto. That would complete an infield that would have Stevie Wonder as an upgrade. And in a genius move the Red Sox ship out the best glove on the roster.