Predicting Red Sox Spring Training Positional Battles

Left Field

Elsa/Getty Images North America

Elsa/Getty Images North America

Starter: Hanley Ramirez

The second major offseason addition by the Red Sox was also perhaps the biggest splash the team made. Ramirez was very much in the thick of the MVP race in 2013 despite having only played 86 games. In 2014, he led the Dodgers back to the postseason behind a .283/.369/.448 triple slash and earned his four year, $88 million contract.

Viewed as the best offensive player in free agency, Ramirez brings tremendous power and hitting to the cleanup spot behind David Ortiz. Two things to watch will be how he takes to learning his new position, and also if he can stay healthy. Either way Ramirez was a pleasant surprise that certainly solidifies the Red Sox lineup in a big way.

Center Field

Starter: Rusney Castillo

After signing a six year, $72 million deal in August the 27 year-old Cuban born star Castillo will have his first full taste of Major League Baseball in 2015. With game changing speed, Castillo plays a good defensive center field and profiles as a good but not great hitter. The wild card in Castillo’s tools is his power, which took most scouts by surprise when he signed.

Castillo is at an age where he should be physically ready to immediately contribute to a major league ball club, as we saw Jose Abreu do last year, but if he does need refinement in the minor leagues the Sox have plenty of options to fill his shoes. Castillo is a dynamic athlete but it remains to be seen what he can offer the Red Sox next year. He’ll be another x-factor to watch.

Just Missed: Jackie Bradley Jr.

Right Field

Starter: Mookie Betts

Betts burst onto the scene at the end of 2014 and has already earned John Farrell’s approval as the most likely candidate to lead off in 2015. The speedy Betts has surprising pop, makes great contact and has taken up his new position in the outfield with grace. All that remains is for Betts to prove he can continue to be a star at the highest level over a full season.

Along with Castillo and fellow 22 year-old Bogaerts, Betts will be an x-factor in this lineup. Where Castillo and Bogaerts will likely bat at the bottom of the order, Betts should start at the top and get plenty of early action. As much as he showed last year, fans shouldn’t fret if he is unable to immediately produce as Boston will have viable contingency options.

Fourth Outfielder

Backup: Shane Victorino

The plan B for both Castillo and Betts is the 34 year-old veteran Victorino, who will likely be assuming the role of fourth outfielder to start 2015 barring a trade. The Flyin Hawaiian is entering his walk year, and is the perfect insurance policy for Betts and Castillo, should either player struggle. But if they thrive, Victorino could find himself flipped to a contender at the deadline as he likely isn’t a candidate to re-sign.

6 Responses

  1. sparkyII

    I must say this was the best YB article I have enjoyed to date. Too bad the Sox can’t keep all of those players mentioned in this run down but hey, it looks to be a great trade line up. I along with many Sox fans will be disappointed to see some of our favourites not on the roster come April but that’s baseball. It don’t get any better than this.

    • Ryan Hathaway

      Wow that is tremendous praise, thank you very much I’m happy you enjoyed my piece. It was an exciting winter and I can’t wait for this season to get started but it’s also quite exciting to remember how much flexibility this team has in both this season and beyond. There are so many trade possibilities and so many prospects that can be plugged into this team if it doesn’t work. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out and you’re right, it really doesn’t get any better than this!

      • sparkyII

        I wasn’t expecting a response from you but I’m glad you did. It’s nice to know some writers do indeed follow up by reading comments from the readers. I will be following you throughout the season so keep up the good work.
        One other thing, I predict the Sox, Cole Hammels, and the Phillies will come to terms by the end of March if not sooner. What’s your thoughts?

      • Ryan Hathaway

        Again appreciated, seeing a comment at the bottom of my posts is one of my favorite aspects of this job.

        For me, too, Hamels or another pitching addition seems quite likely. Though I’m not sure it will happen by March. I think that Amaro and Cherington are in a stand off and I think that either Amaro will budge or Cherington will move onto someone else like Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, or Doug Fister sometime before the deadline.

        In terms of a spring training trade, I actually think it is more likely the team takes a look at Cliff Lee if he proves healthy.

      • sparkyII

        You’re probably right on the trade dead line, I’m just getting anxious, but I keep thinking the Phills are a lot more desperate than they let on. Getting rid of Hamel’s contract and adding a top prospect is better than playing in limbo for another year. I wonder how the Philly fans will react to the stalemate their team is in and how long their GM will keep his job under such pressure.

      • sparkyII

        One other thought: the Sox have been interested in Cole Hamels for a long time and he would be much more affordable than Zimmerman and the others you named. One top prospect and two prospects of lesser value would or should be enough to make this deal happen. It would be to the
        Sox advantage to have Hamels in ST along with the rest of the team

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