Boston Red Sox 2019: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the AL East?

And now comes the hard part — when the encore doubles as the farewell tour. The Red Sox shocked baseball with a run of wire-to-wire dominance unwitnessed since the 1998 Yankees, winning 108 games and their fourth World Series title since 2004. They cleared every obstacle in their path, from Opening Day, when the bullpen imploded vs. Tampa, to Game 3 of the World Series, when a walk-off homer beat them in the 18th inning. They return basically their entire roster, but change is coming. In the next two years alone, free agency looms for standouts such as Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rick Porcello and Jackie Bradley Jr. They’ll be motivated to go for broke, because this isn’t the start of a budding dynasty. It’s already the last waltz. 

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Red Sox

Boston Red Sox logo“You can’t say the best team didn’t win. That’s what happens when you’re deep, you get deeper as the season goes on, your great players have great seasons and you hire a smart, dynamic manager in Alex Cora who understands how to utilize data while still respecting the players as people. It’s going to start to break up after this season, because Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts and maybe J.D. Martinez [opt-out clause] can be free agents and the farm system has thinned out, but for now they’re the team to beat again. They spent a lot of money, but they spent it well and they get enormous value from young homegrown guys like Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. The only hole in the lineup is catcher, but those guys find a way to get the job done. I worry a little about Sale’s durability, but I trust this group to know how to get the most out of him. David Price is the rare starting pitcher who’s also a team leader. They’re well-armed for another run even with some questions in the pen.”


Beyond the Box Score

Flip-flop The tinkering with the 2019 Red Sox began before the Duck Boats finished traversing Boston Common. Manager Alex Cora announced in early December that leadoff hitter and AL MVP Mookie Betts would flip-flop with No. 2 hitter Andrew Benintendi in order to increase his RBI opportunities. “If you play 162 games, you’re going to come up 162 at-bats with nobody on,” Cora said.


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In Craig He Trusts Want hope that Jackie Bradley Jr.’s strong second half and clutch postseason are sustainable? He’s now under the tutelage of the same guy who turned J.D. Martinez into an All-Star. Hitting expert Craig Wallenbrock has worked with Martinez for years, and Bradley began seeking the instructor’s counsel via text at the All-Star break. They met in Los Angeles after the World Series, and Bradley believes he holds the keys to avoiding the roller coaster that has defined his career.


Funnyman The nastiest, funniest guy in the 2018 Red Sox bullpen wasn’t iconoclastic Joe Kelly, dopey Heath Hembree or good-natured Matt Barnes. Teammates unanimously identified Brandon Workman, who plays the strong, silent Texan in public, but is a relentless bleep-talker and ball buster behind closed doors. “You guys would be shocked,” Kelly says. “It’s like seeing your high school librarian in a death metal band.”


Good Luck Charm The real secret to Betts’ success hangs perilously around his neck, perpetually at risk of flying into the stands. It’s a simple necklace featuring a plastic ball and bat on a string, but Betts wore it all season en route to an MVP. It was a gift from a 12-year-old fan in Kentucky, and Betts considers it his good-luck charm. “I just don’t take it off,” he says.


True Believer Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations, is sick of hearing the Red Sox will only contend for another year or two before needing to rebuild, thanks to a thin farm system and a host of talented players due to hit free agency this year (Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Xander Bogaerts, Martinez via an opt-out) and next (Betts, Bradley). “I never bought that,” Dombrowski says. “It doesn’t mean your window to win is complete.”


Mementos One of the coolest aspects of Cora’s debut was how he chose to decorate his office. Cora posted a photo of the star or pivotal moment from every victory, 108 during the season and 11 more in the playoffs, covering the entire wall opposite his desk. He then auctioned them off for charity following the season.


Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

LF   Andrew Benintendi (L)
RF  Mookie Betts (R)
DH  J.D. Martinez (R)
SS   Xander Bogaerts (R)
1B  Mitch Moreland (L)
2B  Dustin Pedroia (R)
3B  Rafael Devers (L)
CF  Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)
C   Christian Vazquez (R)

 

BENCH

1B  Steve Pearce (R)
INF Brock Holt (L)
INF Eduardo Nuñez (R)
C/OF Blake Swihart (S)
C    Sandy Leon (S)

 

ROTATION

LHP  Chris Sale
LHP  David Price
RHP  Rick Porcello
RHP  Nathan Eovaldi
LHP  Eduardo Rodriguez

 

BULLPEN

RHP  Matt Barnes (C)
RHP  Ryan Brasier
RHP  Tyler Thornburg
RHP  Steven Wright
RHP  Heath Hembree
RHP  Hector Velazquez

 

2019 PREDICTION

1st AL East 

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