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Boston Red Sox 2018: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Expert Insight

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

That expletive shaking Yawkey Way in December wasn’t Dustin Pedroia losing a game of ping-pong. It was the reaction in the Red Sox front office when the Yankees pulled off baseball’s biggest trade in more than a decade by acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins. The Yankees already appeared poised to surpass the Red Sox after Boston’s back-to-back division titles, but this deal sealed it. And perhaps that’s not a bad thing. The Red Sox never seemed entirely comfortable with being cast as favorites, and now that Stanton and Aaron Judge are collectively blotting out the sun in the middle of New York’s lineup, the Red Sox can once again play the role of pursuer. It suits them. The last time New York made a deal this big, acquiring Alex Rodriguez before the 2004 season, the Red Sox responded by ending an 86-year title drought. Doing so this time around might literally be a taller order, but even with nothing more than last year’s roster, the Red Sox possess enough young talent to challenge the Bombers. It’s just that this time it will qualify as a surprise.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the RED SOX

“The Yankees, on paper, have passed them. Going up against the Yankees so often, I’d be concerned about having so many lefties in the rotation. You could see Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez going over the Monster repeatedly. That said, Chris Sale’s the best lefty in the league, and they’re smart about the way they use Drew Pomeranz — they’ll pull him before trouble finds him. You don’t know what you’ll get from David Price with that elbow, and that market is all wrong for him. I bet he wishes he’d signed somewhere else, but he does have the chance to opt out after the season. I don’t worry about Rick Porcello; his stuff is there, and when he finds his command, he’ll be fine. Their young core is so impressive. Andrew Benintendi has a lot of ceiling left, Jackie Bradley Jr. is a fabulous defender, and Mookie Betts can do it all. I’m excited to see Rafael Devers for a full year. He’s got great hands at the plate, he plays loose, and he knows the strike zone.”

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Beyond the Box Score

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In the Genes

Chris Sale didn’t arrive at his string-bean frame by accident. The 6'6" lefthander is generously listed at 180 pounds and proudly wears “All Me PED-free” t-shirts around the clubhouse. He credits genetics. “We’ve got tall, skinny guys all over the place,” he says. “I’m not skinny because I don’t eat. I come from a long line of skinny people.” 

Early Signs

When Alex Cora played, teammates labeled him a future manager, saying he saw the game at a different speed. An example: A walk-off loss to the Yankees in 2008 ended with Jason Giambi lining a bases-loaded single to center. As the ball sailed into the outfield and the rest of the team trudged to the dugout, Cora raced to second, jumping up and down and waving frantically for the ball. The Yankees were celebrating, and Cora saw a chance to turn an 8-4-3 double play. Alas, Jacoby Ellsbury missed the opportunity. “I’ll talk to him about it,” Cora said at the time, sounding downright managerial.

Rough Year

Knuckleballer Steven Wright had a rough year. First, he missed most of the season following knee surgery. Then, in December, he was arrested for domestic assault after an argument with his wife at their home in Tennessee. The case was eventually retired for a year — it will be dismissed after 12 months if there are no further offenses — but it still left Wright in a position to be disciplined under baseball’s domestic violence policy.

CSI: Boston

It’s the question we’ll probably never answer conclusively: Who cheered? When David Price made the ill-advised decision to ambush Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on a team flight, focus eventually turned to the reactions of his teammates. Most of them applauded as Price embarrassed the broadcaster over critical comments. But some didn’t, with witnesses generally singling out Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale as remaining silent. We’ll probably never know for sure.

Catch Them All

 Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly doesn’t just march to the beat of his own drummer, he glides to it. When he can’t sleep, the iconoclast with the funky Elvis Costello glasses and the 100 mph fastball has been known to chase Pokemon via the Pokemon Go app on an electric longboard in New York’s Central Park at 4 a.m. “Me and 5,000 other people,” Kelly said with a shrug. “I had to catch them all.”

Projected Lineup

RF    Mookie Betts (R)
2B    Dustin Pedroia (R)
LF    Andrew Benintendi (L)
3B    Rafael Devers (L)
DH    Hanley Ramirez (R)
SS    Xander Bogaerts (R)
1B    Mitch Moreland (L)
C    Christian Vazquez (R)
CF    Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)
OF    Bryce Brentz (R)
UT    Brock Holt (L)
C      Sandy Leon (S)
INF    Marco Hernandez (L)
LHP    Chris Sale
LHP    David Price
RHP    Rick Porcello
LHP    Drew Pomeranz
LHP    Eduardo Rodriguez
RHP    Craig Kimbrel 
RHP    Joe Kelly
RHP    Carson Smith
RHP    Matt Barnes
RHP    Tyler Thornburg
LHP    Robby Scott
RHP    Heath Hembree