The Boston Red Sox have struggled in spring training in 2019. This shouldn’t alarm fans though as Alex Cora is finding the right recipe for this season.
Spring training hasn’t been kind to the Red Sox in 2019. Whether you’ve watched any of the games or just check the box score, there isn’t much to get excited about. This is a stark contrast to 2018 when the Sox ran through the Grapefruit League on their way to a World Series winning season.
The 2019 pre-season hasn’t been as kind to the Red Sox as they are in the basement of the Grapefruit League with a gross 6-11 record. Not pretty for a team preparing to defend their World Championship. The scariest stat line for Boston so far in spring is their run differential as they have an appalling -20 RD, per MLB.com. For a team that had one of the best offenses last year, this could be worrying. But I’m not ready to hit the panic button just yet and there’s a good reason, Alex Cora.
The Red Sox skipper has shown in his time with Boston not only as a player but while in the Manager’s chair that he is often playing chess while we’re playing checkers. The moves he made throughout the 2018 campaign as well as into October were masterful. He also seemed to have the answer well before the question was even asked.
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Cora came into camp with a platoon heavily mixed with veterans and prospects. Now, this isn’t something different for a team to do in spring training but it felt like Cora relied more heavily on his prospects than others may have. Today he trimmed the roster down optioning many of the prospects to the minor league affiliates but made sure to get great use of them while in camp.
There’s another reason why I have no worries going into the regular season and that is the fact that the Red Sox were able to retain a majority of the World Champion roster from last year. The only major departures from that squad were Joe Kelly and as of now, Craig Kimbrel. Both are big arms that will surely be missed this upcoming season but that’s the game, you can’t keep everyone forever.
There are a handful of big-name stars on the roster that will be eligible for free agency when this upcoming season ends as well. But that will be another issue for another day, we have to focus on the season at hand. There have been some glimmers of positivity in an otherwise miserable spring training though and there will be things to look forward to come Opening Day.
Dustin Pedroia finally took the field after what felt like a lifetime on the bench with a pesky left knee. Though he hasn’t logged much playing time this spring, he has looked great considering he hasn’t played in anything considered meaningful since 2017. He’ll be looking to remind everyone why he’s the heart and soul of the Red Sox.
The pitching rotation finally joined in on the fun and are knocking off some of the offseason rust. With Chris Sale being one of the impending free agents at the end of the year, he’ll be looking to have a strong 2019 to get that ever desirable big money deal. Same with Xander Bogaerts, who now has two World Series rings under his belt and seems to only be getting better with each passing season.
In year’s past, I would already be hitting the panic button on the Red Sox with the level of poor performances they’re putting on this spring. That’s just a natural reaction as a lifelong Boston fan, the world is always ending. But this team with this management group and front office just feel different. What they did last year was magic and will be damn near impossible to replicate. The Red Sox are already the underdogs in many season projections and that’s right where they want to be.
In every round of the playoffs in 2018, they were considered the underdog and that amounted to and 11-3 postseason record and a shiny new piece of silverware for Fenway Park. This is a group of guys that love to play the game and that’s why they succeed. It’s about playing the game and playing it right that is at the core of the success for the Red Sox. With the baseball world placing the target firmly on their backs, they’ll be ready to defend the castle that is Fenway.
Other teams may have spent and brought in new talent to fill deficiencies but they don’t have what the Red Sox have. A team built on trust, love of the game, and competition is what will bring Boston more success in 2019. Spring training is a great way to see where the team is but in no way should lead you to hit the panic button if things aren’t going well.