Welcome to 2015, a year Red Sox fans in particular are happy to welcome in. After an abysmal 2014 season in which the team followed up their worst-to-first campaign with a return to worst, the Red Sox have made large strides this winter in ensuring a improved product in the new year.
Boston’s lineup will undoubtedly be given a boost, as Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are set to join the fold. Sandoval, who signed a 5 year, $95 million deal back in November, is projected by Steamer to hit .291/.347/.464 with 18 home runs and 84 RBI over 138 games in his first season in Boston. Looking at his career norms, the 28-year old’s 2015 forecast doesn’t seem overly optimistic. As for Ramirez, Steamer projects the 30-year old to slash .291/.365/.474 in 2015, and collect 20 home runs and 84 RBI. Steamer also projects that Ramirez, who has had trouble staying on the field recently, will amass 138 games in 2015, which will be his most games played since the 2012 season.
In the rotation, the Red Sox will usher in virtually a brand new starting staff lead by…well who knows right now. Newly acquired Rick Porcello pitched like a future top of the rotation starter last year, posting a 3.43 ERA in over 200 innings pitched. Clay Buchholz, who can never seem to stay healthy, has the potential to be a top tier arm as evident by his abbreviated dominance in 2013. Wade Miley won’t be a staff leader for a team poised to return to the postseason like the Red Sox, but he has what it takes to be a serviceable arm in the middle of the pack. Over his 4 year career, the 27-year old has become known as an innings eater capable of producing ground balls in bunches. However, Steamer seems to think that the move to the American League East will work against the career National League pitcher, as he’s forecasted to toss 173 innings over 30 starts. Behind Miley, right-hander Justin Masterson seems poised to bounce back from his dreadful 2014 season, in which he posted the highest ERA of his career. The former Red Sox prospect, who was dealt in the 2011 deal for Victor Martinez, reportedly has pinpointed the problems within his mechanics that hampered his 2014 campaign. In turn, Steamer projects the 29-year old to his career norms in several categories including ERA and K/BB ratio. Joe Kelly might not be the answer to round out the rotation, but for now he seems to have a hold on the fifth spot. Kelly, whom some believe would be better utilized in the pen, is expected to start 25 games and collect and ERA in the mid-4.00’s.
In a pitching weak division like the AL East, the Red Sox should be just fine if everyone has a normal season. When Boston elected not to match or better the Chicago Cubs 6 year, $155 million offer to Jon Lester, the team pushed all of their chips into the “ground ball, innings eater” basket. Between the trio of new arms, Justin Masterson holds the highest career GB% of 56.6% while Wade Miley possesses the “lowest” mark of 48.6%. While 2015 is an uncertainty right now, on paper the team has readjusted their roster to produce a competitive product next season.
- Even though Craig Breslow endured the worst season of his career in 2014, the left-hander was set on making the most out of his first experience in free agency. The former Yale grad hit the open market touting his overall career numbers, rather than the hiccup that was the 2014 season. In turn, the Breslow and his agent garnered interest from a number of teams, but ultimately decided to return to the Red Sox. (Craig Breslow’s excellent offseason adventure (that ended right back with the Red Sox))
- What’s the offseason without a few bold predictions? Will Mike Napoli’s power return after a down season? Will Shane Victorino make it past Spring Training as a member of the Sox? Will the Sox front office remain intact? Lucky for us all questions eventually have answers, and in sports all answers are usually preceded by predictions. (What lies ahead for Red Sox in 2015? Here are a few predictions)
- In recent years, the Red Sox front office has made every attempt to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. However, this offseason John Henry and company displayed their willingness to take tax hit by allocating lucrative deals to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. While the Sox may still cut payroll with a future trade of Daniel Nava or Allen Craig, the team seems willing to field an expensive group in 2015. (Red Sox set to pay luxury tax in 2015 (for now))
- The Red Sox offseason has been pretty great when you think about it. Not only did the team upgrade their lineup and assemble a solid group of starters, but they did so without losing any of their talented group of prospects. Even after the trade of Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, Boston’s system is loaded from top to bottom with starting pitching. Likewise, the Sox posses a solid core of positional players, headed by top prospect Blake Swihart. (Boston Red Sox top 10 prospects for 2015)
- Tweet of the day: Let’s just forget 2014 ever happened, kay?