The 2022 Red Sox will win but it will be mechanical
The Red Sox are looking like a 90-win team which is no excellent insight since they won 92 games in 2021. The talent level is similar, and time will tell if it is better. The key ingredient in this cake is lefty Chris Sale, who could be a top-three pitcher in baseball or a contractual albatross.
The Red Sox will make the playoffs, but that will be a challenge in the American League East. The Rays -the noted little engine that could – won 100 games and the division in 2021. The Yankees matched the Red Sox, and the Jays were at 91 games. The East is one tough division. The Rays would be my favorite and the other three a season-long scrum.
The season could be the catalyst for a dramatic change with three high-priced potential free agents. Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Nathan Eovaldi could be elsewhere. The good news for the fiscally minded is that Boston’s staggering payroll is potentially sheared in half. The last local hurrah for three stars?
The current Red Sox are bland, boring, and nondescript – a collection of sturdy workers with enough talent to cause the appropriate amount of pain to an unwary opposition, but they are dishwater dull. This collection has limited style points, and this Red Sox squad is vanilla ice cream.
Are you looking at the pitching rotation saying I have to get tickets to see Tanner Houck‘s next start? Or being down or up seven runs in the game and saying I have a stay and not miss Alex Verdugo‘s next at-bat.
The past teams had that combination of star power and personality that is now severely missing. Mookie Betts was a considerable loss, and Mookie wished to go elsewhere. That is a player that keeps your arse in the seat, just like David Ortiz, Ted Williams, or Carl Yastrzemski.
You need that marquee player, and the only two possibilities are Rafael Devers and Sale. Of course, the Red Sox PR machine builds up Trevor Story as such a player. Sale was unique, just as Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez were unique. It was not a game when they took the mound; it was an event. Fenway Park was electric. Now Sale is a question mark. And Devers? Just take his iron glove and recycle it – stick him at DH or first base and hope for the best.
The 2013 team had some ingredients that this one is missing with Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes. They had a certain panache and looked great, even losing. Go back to 2007, and it was Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Manny being Manny, the delightful screwball who murdered baseballs.
Where is Luis Tiant when we need him? Pitch count? What in blazes is a pitch count? For style points, Luis gets a ten even from the Soviet Judge. Tiant, like the others, was something special that could not be defined. Duende is a term that I have seen applied to that undefinable quality that makes you stay and observe a train wreck or a heroic moment.
The Red Sox are lacking in merchandising heroics and that is also partially symptomatic of that player that attracts fan dollars. Betts’ topped the jersey sales (again) and no Red Sox player has cracked the top ten despite the Red Sox’s worldwide popularity.
Now I’ll have to back off the Debbie Downer approach that causes volumes of spittle for the true believers of which – despite my negativity – I am one. You will see solid baseball and pay a hefty price, but you are at a sustainable ballpark. Bring on the carbon credits!
Since I have mastered the art of personal contradiction, what the Red Sox lack individually could collectively makeup, this will be an offensive show and could be the best offensive lineup in baseball. Star power may be lacking, but power will not. You may stick around with a team that is never out of it.
For me, the attractions are often who is coming to town, which means the Jays and Yankees for those who wish to see some high octane mashing. That Jays lineup will be formidable, as will the Yankees. The rest of the league has merciless lineups that will provide some high-scoring entertainment value. And that is what the game is – entertainment.
The issue for 2022 will naturally revolve around pitching. Boston has numbers but do they have quality? The rotation is questionable, the closer situation is a mystery, and manager Alex Cora will spend far too much time aligning his rotation and bullpen.
So pitching, be damn, and enjoy the slugfest, and it may be possible that a special player may surface. The individuals may be nondescript without that, but the overall package is a bit more scintillating, even for me.