I had the pleasure of being a part of group of four Red Sox bloggers who took part in "Playing Pepper 2021: Boston Red Sox." We were asked six questions concerning the club for 2021 by
Daniel Shoptaw, who runs the fine St. Louis Cardinals blog "C70 At The Bat."
Every year Daniel asks bloggers from all 30 teams questions about their teams chances for the upcoming season. This is the eighth straight year I have taken part.
My thanks to Daniel for letting me take part again. Here are the questions and my answers:
C70: Baseball in 2020 was like nothing we’ve ever seen before. What are your thoughts on that season? Did you like the rule changes? How was following baseball the same or different during the pandemic?
John: Let’s hope we never have another baseball season like 2020! It was beyond bizarre seeing no fans in the stands until the postseason. I understand some of the rule changes that were made for last season but the only one I liked was the DH in the National League. I am fully a proponent of the DH, and I hate to see pitchers hitting. I don’t like ANY of the other changes: starting a runner at second to begin the 10th inning or the 16-team playoff format. Call me a traditionalist with those two things, but starting a runner at second in the tenth is an artificial way to try to end a game. And we nearly had an under .500 team get to the World Series because of the expanded playoffs (Houston). Seven inning doubleheaders? I guess I can live with it for now.
C70: When is Chris Sale expected to return and what do you expect from him when he does?
John: Alex Cora said he isn’t expecting Chris Sale back until after the All-Star Game. The Sox have to be careful with him, and rushing him back makes little sense unless the Sox surprise a lot of people in the standings this year.
C70: Alex Cora is back as manager after a year away. What are your thoughts about his return and how much of an impact will it have on the 2021 season?
John: I believe Alex Cora’s return will have a positive effect on the club, especially with J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, who struggled mightily last season. I heard that every player who played under Cora in 2018-19 gave the thumbs up for his return. That’s good enough for me.
C70: There’s been a lot of trade rumors around former Arkansas Razorback Andrew Benintendi. Do you believe he will be traded? Should he be traded? [Note: Every year at least one team does something after I send out questions that invalidates one. Boston did this last year to me as well! So everyone just told me what they thought about the trade.]
John: I was sorry to see Andrew Benintendi leave. I understand the trade as his stock had fallen since 2018. Still he’s still a young player and I thought he would bounce back from his injury-riddled 2020 season. I remember seeing Franchy Cordero play in San Diego. I just hope he’s not the second coming of Wily Mo Pena.
C70: What is your expectation for this team this coming season?
John: A lot has to go right for the Red Sox to compete in 2021. I don’t see them making the playoffs but I think they can surprise the naysayers. I’m hoping for a 82-83 win season.
C70: Overall, what sort of grade would you give this organization and why?
John: Chaim Bloom has a plan, and it will take time to bear fruit. So the fans have to be patient this year. He has improved the farm system, and has brought in some versatile position players. The pitching has the bigger question marks. Hard to give the Sox a grade on this off season until we see how some key players perform.