Basement Medicine

Filed under Columns, Sports

Tomfoolery

Tom+O%27Leary
Tom O'Leary

Tom O'Leary

GUNTER KLEIST

GUNTER KLEIST

Tom O'Leary

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






For Major League Baseball (MLB), spring training represents a period of refreshed optimism for each team regardless of the prior results. It is also a time when each team hopes to address the questions that remain from offseason roster changes, position battles, and lineup construction.

Typically, for a team that has experienced as much recent success as the Boston Red Sox, who have won consecutive American League East division titles, the spring training concerns are rather benign. However, this is not the case for the 2018 squad, despite returning nearly every major contributor from last season.

As the new owners of the highest team salary in the MLB, the pressure is on for the 2018 Red Sox to avoid yet another swift playoff exit. The proverbial window of success is rapidly closing as several stars are nearing massive pay raises within the next two years.

The teams’ architect, President Dave Dombrowski, has done all that he can to position his team for triumph. Known for his aggressive wheeling-and-dealing style, Dombrowski wasn’t content with back-to-back 93-win seasons. He fired the most successful manager in team history in John Farrell and expertly waited out an abnormally slow market until the premier free agent hitter, J.D. Martinez, agreed to a contract at a nearly 50 percent discount from his initial price tag. Dombrowski has done his job and it is now time for his roster to finally live up to the expectations that come with playing in Boston and being the league’s most expensive team.

With all of this in mind, let’s examine each aspect of the 2018 Red Sox and the previously mentioned concerns that could prove vital to returning the Commisioner’s Trophy to the aptly nicknamed “City of Champions.”

The Starting Lineup:
After failing to adequately replace the legendary David Ortiz, the 2017 lineup went from one of the best to one of the worst, en route to hitting the least home runs in the American League. Martinez was brought in to do one thing: solve the power outage. Considering he hit 46 homeruns and led the MLB in slugging percentage at .690, he seems like the perfect fit. But in order for his impact to matter the rest of the lineup must return to form, specifically right fielder Mookie Betts, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and first baseman/designated hitter Hanley Ramirez. In addition, second-year rising stars left fielder Andrew Benintendi and third baseman Rafael Devers will need to take the expected steps forward as they continue to adjust to the highest level of competition.

The other concern with the starting lineup is health. Martinez has played a full season just once in his career, although the team hopes to minimize his injury risk by rotating him between left field and designated hitter. Equally worrisome are Ramirez (shoulder) and second baseman Dustin Pedroia (knee) who are returning from offseason surgeries to address their respective ailments. Fortunately, Dombrowski re-signed infielder Eduardo Nunez and first baseman Mitch Moreland to fill in if and when they miss time.

The Starting Rotation:
On paper, the starting pitchers should be the strength of this team. But each member of the staff enters 2018 with a level of uncertainty. Chris Sale was arguably the game’s top pitcher for the majority of 2017 before struggling mightily in his final few starts of the regular season and his two appearances in the playoffs. David Price has been mostly disappointing in his two years with the club after signing the most lucrative contract ever given to a starting pitcher. He also missed nearly half of last season with an elbow injury, which forced him to pitch exclusively as a reliever in 2017 after his second stint on the disabled list (DL). Rick Porcello has been remarkably inconsistent during his tenure in Boston, sandwiching a Cy Young award in between two atrocious seasons.

But at least Sale, Price and Porcello are at full strength as April nears. The remainder of the starting rotation represents the roster’s greatest trepidations. Drew Pomeranz, the team’s second-best pitcher in 2017, injured his elbow during his first appearance of the preseason. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, who are expected to compete for the final rotation spot, will begin the season on the DL. Filling in until two of the aforementioned three return will be career minor leaguers Brian Johnson and Hector Velasquez, neither of whom inspire confidence in anyone.

The Bullpen:
This unit was an unexpected strength for last season’s squad, compiling the second lowest earned run average in the MLB. Elite closer Craig Kimbrel remains, as do effective setup men Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes. The big question will be how Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg can replace Addison Reed, who departed via free agency. Smith and Thornburg have faced similar adversity since being acquired by the team. Both are very talented pitchers and netted their former teams a hefty return upon being traded to the Red Sox. Unfortunately, they both also had to undergo major arm surgery before ever throwing a pitch for their new team, but reportedly are ready to go for 2018.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Tomfoolery

    Top Stories

    Post-pot legalization prospects hazy as Legislature grapples with next steps

  • Tomfoolery

    Top Stories

    Badgers build schoolroom in Managua

  • Tomfoolery

    Top Stories

    Three JSC students spearhead March for Our Lives in Montpelier

  • Tomfoolery

    Top Stories

    Two new members join Vermont State Colleges System board of trustees

  • Tomfoolery

    Features

    Margo!

  • Sports

    Badger Briefs

  • Tomfoolery

    Columns

    The Pat-Down

  • Tomfoolery

    Sports

    New triathlon head coach aims to jump-start program

  • Tomfoolery

    Campus & Community

    Youth exposure a main concern following cannabis legalization

  • Tomfoolery

    Campus & Community

    NVU hires interim dean of enrollment

The student news site of Johnson State College
Tomfoolery