Now that the Super Bowl is over and the New England Patriots have won their fourth NFL Championship, it is almost time for sports fans to turn their attention to MLB and Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers are set to report to Arizona and Florida in two weeks, and the Boston Red Sox made as big of an off-season splash as any team in the majors.
The Red Sox have gone from worst-to-first-to-worst in the AL East the last three seasons. While the outlook for the 2015 season looks promising, the Red Sox roster is far from perfect. With Spring Training games less than a month away, let’s analyze the Red Sox roster.
How will Sandoval and Ramirez fit in with the roster?
Pablo Sandoval had his choice of suitors, but he decided to sign with the Red Sox for five-years, $100 million with a team option for a six year. Boston needed another left-handed bat in their lineup and getting Sandoval, who is a career .294 hitter with 106 home runs, is an upgrade at third base.
Boston’s outfield production in 2014 was mediocre to say the least. The team signed former shortstop Hanley Ramirez to play left field.
Ramirez played in 128 games last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers and he hit .283 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs. The Red Sox hope that moving Ramirez from shortstop will keep him healthy throughout the season. David Ortiz, Ramirez, Sandoval, and Mike Napoli should be one of the best three through six hitters in the American League in 2015.
With no Lester, how will the starting pitching perform?
In December, Jon Lester shocked everyone when he shunned the Red Sox and signed a six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs. Many had expected Lester to return to the Red Sox after he was traded last July to the Oakland Athletics. But now the Red Sox will have a void in their starting rotation.
Boston did make a number of pitching changes in the offseason by acquiring Wade Miley, Justin Masterson and Rick Porcello, but the team still lacks a true number one starting pitcher. James Shields is still out on the free agent market, but it seems like the team isn’t interested in signing him for his asking price.
Clay Buchholz (if healthy), Porcello, and Miley can likely get the Red Sox anywhere from 13-15 wins in 2015, but the team will probably look for other options near the July 31 trading deadline. Boston can’t be expected to contend with the likes of the Detroit Tigers and the Seattle Mariners if they don’t have a true ligament ace pitcher.
The Bullpen is strong, but is it good enough?
Uehara struggled after the All-Star break as he blew three saves and 4.35 ERA in 22 games. Mujica played much better after the All-Star break, posting a 1.29 ERA in 29 games, while recording six saves in six opportunities. While Mujica flourished late in the season, it is hard to ignore his 5.45 ERA before the All-Star break.
The signing of Alexi Ogando last week could provide the Red Sox with another bullpen option should Uehara or Mujica struggle out the gates. Last season for the Texas Rangers, Ogando had a 2.46 ERA and struck out 8.7 hitters per nine innings.
While former reliever Andrew Miller will be sorely missed, the bullpen of Boston is good enough to get them by with the potential potency of their offense.
Boston is in position for a big season at Fenway Park. While they aren’t the AL East consensus pick, they are certainly contenders in a division that has a lot of unanswered questions.
You can follow Antwan on Twitter @blackredsoxfan