So if the pitching is eh, so-so, and the infield is SICK, then the outfield is somewhere in between: nice.
The outfield certainly isn’t an elite group, yet, but it’s certainly a good trio at the moment. There’s still some questions to be answered, and some jobs are still up for grabs, but the outfield is more than fine right now.
So I wasn’t huge on the Hanley Ramirez signing at first. He’s 31 now, and when he was signed I thought the Sox would throw him in the infield, where his ability is declining. But once it became clear that he’d be in left, I started to get behind it a bit more. Sure, the Monster is tough to play defensively, but you can teach him that; the power of coaches! And offensively, his numbers can’t be ignored: if healthy, he’s a guy that can reach .300 and be an almost surefire lock for 20-25 HRs playing in Fenway. He might not be the best fielder in left yet, but he’s gonna abuse the Monster at the plate. He put up nice numbers in LA with a pretty good lineup, and he’ll do the same in Boston.
He’s got a slight injury right now, but I am ALLLLLL INNNNNN on Rusney Castillo. Dude hits BOMBSSSSSSSS and he’s the perfect catalyst for this team. He’s an X factor that this team has never really seen; a Yasiel Puig minus the stupid plays. Castillo is already in his physical prime and is a perfect center fielder with nice speed and amazing all around skills at the dish. You can put him in multiple spots in the lineup, but around 5th or 6th seems to be his best spot; he gives you an opportunity to keep a rally going or started towards the bottom half of the order. But still, no matter where you bat him, Rusney is gonna be a great player in Boston for years to come.
Things get interesting here. As of now, we’re looking at Shane Victorino as the Opening Day starter. I’m alright with that. He’s a great guy to have on the team and has proven himself worthy of being, at the very least, a 4th outfielder for any MLB ballclub. I love me some Flyin’ Hawaiian, and he’ll always have a place in my heart after than grand slam in 2013, but he does seems to be a placeholder for Mookie Betts. Now when Betts takes the job remains to be unseen. A lot of people are speculating that Victorino will be dealt at the trade deadline, or earlier, to free up some room, but if he reflects his 2013 performance, where he almost broke .300, he might be in the starting 9 all year long. He is, however, aging. He’s 34, and Betts is 22; it’s only a matter of time. Personally, I think the Sox should start with Victorino, but they shouldn’t hesitate going with Betts. He’s a guy who has an extremely high ceiling and is poised to break out quickly.
Time to look at the others, Lost style.
-Allen Craig: So what are we gonna do with this guy? Solid production? When healthy, yeah. He was an All-Star in 2013 and was one of the biggest parts of the Cardinals lineup when they won the NL Pennant. But an injury plagued 2014 season saw him wind up in Boston. So with a clean slate, he sits right now as, probably, our #4 outfielder. You do need a solid #4 option if you wanna compete, but the thing is: he’s too good to be a #4. Not good enough to start for us, but better than a fourth guy. Craig can find greener pastures elsewhere, so it only makes sense to deal him at the deadline.
-Brock Holt: Maybe my 2nd or 3rd player on the team, I’m always down for some Brock Holt. He can play everywhere except pitcher, so basically if anyone gets hurt, the team will look to Holt 26 (and two zig zags) to get the job done. Catcher, infield, outfield, you name it. He’s a scrappy little ballplayer, he hustles, and can pump out some nice production for you when he’s in the lineup. He’s with us for the long haul, just not as a starter.
-Daniel Nava: To a lesser extent, he’s in the same boat as Holt; if/when we deal Craig, he’ll be our #4 or 5 option in the outfield and another utility guy. Again, he’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse and plays the game hard, and he has his moments, but we can’t expect too much out of him.
-David Ortiz: I put Papi here because, well, where else can I put the DH? Papi’s gonna be fine this year; he was tearing it up last season with not much offensive help, and now with a stacked lineup he seems likely to break the 30 HR mark yet again. Not too much analysis here, but it’s the same ol’ song and dance with Ortiz.
So there you have it: the 2015 Red Sox in the eyes of your boy. I’m looking at about an 88-74 record, an AL East title, and bowing out in the ALCS to the Angels. Well while we’re at it, here’s my playoff projections:
Wild Card: Seattle defeats Cleveland
ALDS: LAA defeats Seattle 3-0, Boston defeats Detroit 3-1
ALCS: LAA defeats Boston 4-2
Central: St. Louis
West: San Francisco
Wild Card: LAD defeats Pittsburgh
NLDS: Washington defeats LAD 3-2, St. Louis defeats San Francisco 3-2
NLCS: Washington defeats St. Louis 4-3
Washington defeats LAA 4-2
Let’s hope I’m wrong and the Sox hoist their 9th Commissioner’s Trophy, though.