Monday, November 24, 2014

Red Sox Add Power To Their Lineup

Five times in the 21st Century the Red Sox have advanced at least as far as the American League Championship Series and they have won the World Series three times.  A common theme among those five teams were offenses that dominated their opponents.

In 2003, when the team lost in Game 7 of the ALCS, the Red Sox led the A.L. with 961 runs and did so again in their World Series championship season of 2004 with 949 runs.  The 2007 team was just third in runs scored with 867 but won the World Series.  In 2008, again losing in Game 7 of the ALCS, they finished second in the league in runs scored with 845.  Their 2013 World Series team led the A.L. with 853 runs.

The 2014 Red Sox team - you know, the one that won 71 games and finished last in their division - was eleventh in the A.L. in runs with just 634.

That dramatic drop-off in run production and in wins has led general manager Ben Cherington to be very aggressive in adding offense.  It started at the trade deadline when he dealt Jon Lester to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes and when he dealt John Lackey to St. Louis for Allen Craig.  The team also signed Cuban defector Rusney Castillo.

That trend continued today as they seem to be on the verge of announcing the signings of both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the two most sought after hitters available in free agency.  These additions would certainly bolster the Red Sox offense while also providing Cherington with enough trade chips to add at least one top of the rotation starting pitcher.

There are many possibilities for Cherington right now.  My uneducated opinion is that he will flip Cespedes and at least one pitching prospect to the Phillies in exchange for Cole Hamels and then also sign Lester, the ace they traded away in July but would, reportedly, be welcome to a return to Boston. Allen Craig is also a probable target to be dealt, possibly for bullpen depth.

Again, that's just a guess.  There will be a multitude of rumors swirling around regarding the Red Sox.  Xander Bogaerts could be dealt.  Maybe Mike Napoli will be traded and they'll keep Craig. Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts and Castillo will also hear their names in trade talks.  Until all the chips have fallen, there's no way to tell what might happen.

However, for the purposes of this ramble, let's assume that Cespedes and Craig are the odd men out. That would make this a likely lineup for John Farrell's team this spring:

1. Mookie Betts, CF (RH)
2.  Dustin Pedroia, 2B (RH)
3. David Ortiz, DH (LH)
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF (RH)
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B (S)
6. Mike Napoli, 1B (RH)
7. Xander Bogaerts, SS (RH)
8. Rusney Castillo, RF (RH)
9. Christian Vazquez, C (RH)

Obviously there are no championships handed out in November and there are many moving pieces in the 2015 Red Sox puzzle but the prospect of seeing that lineup, or one of similar make up, every day is good news for Red Sox Nation as they hope the team can rebuild quickly and once again contend to win the World Series.

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