For Better or For Worse? The Red Sox Transaction Line
Since the turn of the month the Red Sox have made a collection of moves that leave some scratching their heads. As nice as it is to see some movement and willingness to change things up a bit, it won't take you far if they aren't the right moves (on paper at least).
Those that know me know that what I bring to the table in terms of sports opinions typically rests itself in the middle of both sides. You could edit Otis Redding's fire jam (10 bomb worthy) "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" to "Sitting On The Fence With Roache" and you would pretty much nail my hot takes. I like to see it as having the ability to see both sides, others see it the inability to pick a side. This site is my chance to finally pick a side and roll with it and I've been trying to do just that. So as far as the Red Sox current moves and current roster are concerned, I really want to sit right back on that fence. I'll try not to though.
Coach: The outlier of their recent acquisitions is the impact that Alex Cora is going to have. He really can be the piece that brings these players to 88+ win, possible Wild Card berth or lets them settle in at the 75-80 range. This collective group of players is good for about 75-78 wins on their own, the way I see it. With Cora coaching like he did in 2018 he could get them to a playoff spot.
Offense: He (Cora) has a relatively YOUNG offense right now with ONE position player over the age of 30, JD Martinez at 33 (catcher Christian Vazquez is currently 30 and turning 31 the same day that Martinez turns 34, who knew). The World Series year definitely had some seasoned vets on the roster including the mid-season addition of a couple of elderly gentlemen, Steve Pearce (35) and Ian Kinsler (36), which proved to be beneficial in the playoffs and WS. That being said - it seems like that could be the model that this team is going to follow suit with.
With only a few familiar faces back from the 2018 team including, Martinez, Vazquez, Bogaerts and Devers, it's a seemingly fresh start for the offense under Cora's reign. They do have a solid core to lead them though, with .300+ hitters in Martinez, Bogaerts and Devers. The offensive output of the other guys is where the question truly lies. Can Franchy Cordero and Kiki Hernandez bring enough offensively to take this team to even a Wild Card spot? Can Alex Verdugo be a bright spot? Can Michael Chavis or Bobby Dalbec step up into a more consistent role and produce night-in and night-out? All great questions.
Looking at my way-too-early projected lineup, I would say that this team could get you to a Wild Card spot offensively. With Bogaerts, Dever and Martinez in the middle of your lineup and Kiki or Verdugo on the outskirts, the Red Sox have enough of a threat to at least force opposing pitchers to throw strikes instead of just working around guys to get to the next spot.
Early Projected Lineup:
C Christian Vazquez
1B Michael Chavis
2B Kiki Hernandez
SS Xander Bogaerts
3B Rafael Devers
LF Hunter Renfroe
CF Franchy Cordero
RF Alex Verdugo
DH JD Martinez
The backend of the lineup doesn't feel strong but I will at least hold out hope for a plus season from Chavis or Cordero and expect Renfroe and Vazquez to close out the batting order.
Pitching: Cora, in his last season at the helm of the Sox in 2019, took them to an 84 win season with Eddy Rodriguez leading the charge on the mound while Chris Sale and former Sox pitcher David Price missed nearly 20 starts combined. He will likely miss out on Sale for a couple months to start this season so it could lead to the same result as '19 with a mid-80 win season not having a true, strong ace leading the way every fifth day. I've never thought that Nathan Eovaldi or Rodriguez were those guys and despite some good numbers in years past, I can't find many people that would argue.
What it truly boils down to for this team is this rotation. Unless they decide to take a Tampa Bay Rays route and run bullpen days once or twice a series, I cannot find more than two 10 win pitchers on this team. Martin Perez and Garrett Richards aren't going to be able to do it consistently. The last time Richards started more than 16 games was 2015 when Devers wasn't even in the league. The averages that Perez has put out over his career aren't changing my opinion either. It really relies on Eovaldi, Rodriguez and Sale. And to me - that's not getting it done.
If Cora decides to use the bullpen more and can find a mix that could close out games or keep them close - that could elevate this team a bit more than I expect.
My too early prediction for the 2021 Red Sox: 84-78
List of February Acquisitions: