Brian Hines (@JonLestersGhost)
After back to back last place finishes in the AL East, the Red Sox are looking to return to the playoffs in 2016. If the Red Sox want to compete this season, like they did in 2013, they need their long-term core healthy and playing well. Players like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia played major roles in the 2013 championship run, but have struggled with staying on the field as of late, especially Pedroia. Who knows what to expect from this rotation. New $200 million dollar man, David Price, will take the hill this afternoon making his Red Sox debut. Expect him to be his usual self with 15-20 wins and keeping his ERA under 3. But other than him, this rotation could make or break the Sox season. Buchholz has shown flashes of excellence throughout his career, but can also play very, very poorly. Thats if he can even remain on the field. Rick Porcello finished strong last year, but shouldn't be a 3 pitcher in any rotation. Joe Kelly has had a dominant spring with a 1.35 ERA, but his fastball is very vulnerable. The only other sign of hope in this rotation is second year man Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez had a strong first season last year with 10 wins and a 3.85 ERA. He will start this season on the DL with a knee injury, but will be back soon and could end up in the two hole by the end of the season.
The lineup also is filled with holes and question marks. The Red Sox will go with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts this season. If they play well, the Sox will win games. If they play poorly, the Sox will loose games. Betts and Bogaerts could each hit 20+ home runs and 75+ RBIs, while keeping their batting averages in the .290's. That would be huge for this lineup. Hanley Ramirez's defense at first base will draw a lot of attention, but he needs to produce offensively. How affective will David Ortiz be in his final year? He is the leader of this team and the only real lefty with proven power. These two veterans and Pedroia need to produce at the plate and stay healthy for Boston to succeed. Jackie Bradley Jr. is here because of his outstanding defensive play, but can he hit as well as he did last year is the question. Blake Swihart and Travis Shaw are two more young guys who could contribute. Swihart had a solid campaign last year and Shaw burst onto the scene late last year. Shaw probably won't be playing every game, unless the Sox somehow end up trading away Sandoval. The platoon in left between Chris Young and Brock Holt will be something to keep an eye on. The Sox need their starters to produce, but also need solid play from backups like Sandoval, Castillo and Vazquez.
The bullpen could be the best part of this Red Sox team. The Sox acquired an elite closer in Craig Kimbrel, and also brought in Carson Smith from Seattle. These moves will move Koji to the set up man position and Tazawa to work other innings if needed. This years strong bullpen could help save the weak rotation.
Predictions MVP- Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts is about to breakout as one of baseball's best. He has quick hands at the plate and can surprise you with his power. He's also not to shabby in the field as well. I have Mookie hitting .298 this season with 23 home runs, 81 RBIs and also stealing 20+ bases.
Cy Young - David Price
I mean its David Price. Price could win this award on any staff he was on, and this staff just hands it to him. I see Price winning 16-18 games for the Sox will keeping his ERA in the 2.9's.
Gold Glove - Jackie Bradley Jr.
If Bradley can hit the ball and play everyday, this is his award to loose. He's one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball with limitless range and an absolute cannon for an arm.
Rookie of the Year - Whatever pitcher is called up
With a bad rotation, someone is bound to get the call up. Whether its from injury or just poor performance, someone new will be up in Boston. I could see their 6th ranked prospect, Brian Johnson, getting a shot in the Boston this season, so we'll go with him.
Comeback Player of the Year - Dustin Pedroia
After another disappointing year with battling injuries, I think Pedroia will bounce back for the Sox this year. He needs to be here and playing well for the Sox to win games or make a run in the playoffs. He won't be what he use to be offensively, but he can still hit in the high .200's with 10-15 home runs and 60 RBI's.
Record - 89-73 Playoffs - Lose to Astros in ALDS
With an 89-73 record, the Red Sox will come in 2nd in the AL East and play in the Wild Card Game. I think David Price will finally get a postseason win in that game, but the Astros will be just too much for this Sox team in the ALDS. The Sox have an interesting year ahead of them, and a lot of questions that need to be answered. But they need veterans in the lineup to step up and somebody to step up as the clear cut number 2 starter to make a deep run in the fall.
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