All-Star Game at Miami

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Another Season Comes To a Close

The Red Sox 2015 season came to a close this past Sunday, and I thought I would take a few days before recording my impressions on this campaign.

It was a terrible disappointment. No other way to describe it. The AL East was not a strong division, and I thought 90 wins was not out of the question. I was only off by 12.

The two major free agent signings, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, were monumental busts. I was actually in favor of bringing in Sandoval, but I didn't want anything to do with Ramirez. A talented player for sure, but his reputation for being a dog in Miami and Los Angeles should have sworn the Sox away from him.

It was also another season when a bad early season losing skid sent the season spiraling. The high water mark was on April 21 when the Sox had a two-game lead, and fell under .500 to stay on May 3 at 12-13. The Red Sox didn't have an ace on their staff, a stopper to head off bad streaks. They paid the price for not getting Jon Lester back.

The bullpen was not a source of strength. Koji Uehara was terrific back in the closer role, but his wrist injury in August ended his season. Junichi Tazawa was overused and shut down in mid-September. Robbie Ross was up and down most of the year, but Alexi Ogando and Craig Breslow were terrible and probably won't be back in 2016.

It was a year of change. John Farrell was diagnosed with lymphoma in mid-August, and left the team for treatment. Bench coach Torey Lovullo took over and went 28-20 to complete the season. The Sox announced that Farrell and Lovullo will be back in their old roles. They gave Lovullo a new two-year deal so that he wouldn't leave to another club, and also for insurance should Farrell have a relapse and have to leave again.

GM Ben Cherington will not return as Dave Dombrowski was named president of baseball operations in mid-August, and will be calling the shots from now on. Cherington departs with a 2013 World Series championship on resume, surrounded by last place finishes as well.

David Ortiz had his best season since 2006, hitting 37 home runs, 107 RBI, and belting his 500th home run against Tampa Bay on September 12th, and assuring him a Hall of Fame plaque after he retires.

As disappointing a season as this was, there is plenty of hope. The Sox look like they have a dynamic outfield for the future in Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo. Betts showed he's a five tool player right now, and an emerging superstar. Bradley is a Gold Glove outfielder right now, and went on a tear in August after being brought back up. He cooled off in September but should get an opportunity to win a starting job next season. Castillo also was red hot in August, and showed signs he's ready to play full time. He's had injury problems, but like Bradley, will get a chance to be a regular in 2016.

Xander Bogaerts had a simply marvelous turnaround from his shaky 2014 first-full year. He has established himself as one of the premier shortstops in the American League, finishing second in the AL batting race at .320 and getting 196 hits. He played a confident shortstop, making just 11 errors all season. (He made 10 at short in 2014, playing in just 44 games there.) He is clearly one of the club's franchise players going forth.

Going into 2016, it is clear the Sox will need a top-of-the-rotation starter. David Price and Johnny Cueto will both be free agents and will garner plenty of attention, as both will be starting in the 2015 postseason. Eduardo Rodriguez was impressive since he was called up in mid-season, going 10-6, and figures to have a spot in the staff next year. Henry Owens went 4-4 and showed some great promise. Rick Porcello and Wade Miley had up and down campaigns, as did Joe Kelly. Miley was most consistent of the three, and Porcello and Kelly both benefited from trips to the disabled list and the minors, respectively. Kelly and Miley could be part of a deal over the winter, but Porcello, who signed a long term deal prior to 2015, figures to be back and would greatly benefit from a move down the rotation.

So, for 2016, I'm betting that Dave Dombrowski will have three priorities this winter:
1. Acquire a number one starter, either by trade or free agency.
2. Get two power arms for the bullpen to set up Koji Uehara.
3. Find a new home for Hanley Ramirez.

It won't be easy moving Hanley, but Dombrowski is the master of the three-team deal, and with the right trading partner (or partners), something might be worked out. The Sox will have to eat a good part of the three years still owed Ramirez, and probably won't get much back. But I think this is one of those "addition by subtraction" moves the Sox will try to make. He'll never play the outfield again, and trying him at first smells like another disaster, so trading him to an AL team looking for a DH might happen.

Anyway, that wraps up another Red Sox season. It was disappointing for all of us. But I am optimistic about this club going forward. Lots of young talent still in the minors, and at the MLB level.

Keep the faith, everyone. Our boys will be back better next year.

2 comments:

Ashley Collie said...

John, sorry mate, I was a Red Sox fan initially when we emigrated from UK, and I loved those mid to late 70s teams. As a matter of interest, what's the World Series wins to highest budget ratio? In UK soccer, the top-4 richest teams nearly always finish 1-4. But in MLB, since 2000, the Yankees have won WS once, the Dodgers not even...so no guarantee, right? I like those odds. Go Jays!

The Omnipotent Q said...

In baseball, payroll is no guarantee for success, Ashley. You have to spend your money wisely. BTW, I became a Red Sox fan around the same time you came over from the UK. All the best to your Jays!