Sports Roundup: Red Sox Offseason Primer; Terriers Stick It to B.C.

red soxThe Red Sox are coming off a season in what was supposed to be a bridge year.  This past year was going to be the year that the young players came into the big leagues and hopefully developed, and management was to see what the team had for the future.  The future looks bleak.

Xander Boegarts, the team’s top prospect last year, became a full time starter and seriously struggled.  He ended the year batting a dismal .240 with only 46 runs batted in.  Not the numbers the team was looking for out of someone primed to be the next BIG thing.  The next Derek Jeter.

Will Middlebrooks proved he is not the solution at third base and Jackie Bradley Jr. proved he is not the answer in center.  The pitching was atrocious and did not give much hope for the rotation this upcoming year.  I challenge you to find a lone bright spot on this team.  There isn’t one.

So, here is what the Sox have going forward.  They are set at second base with Dustin Pedroia.  He should be healthy going into the season after season-ending surgery.  They are set at first base with Mike Napoli.  They have a shortstop in Xander Boegarts, even with his struggles he is the best option.  Center field will be filled by Cuban Rusney Castillo and Yoenis Cespedes will man left field. That leaves holes at third base, catcher and right field.

In-house names to consider for these positions are: Allen Craig, Brock Holt, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart.

Let’s start with catcher.  Vazquez has the defense to be a big league catcher and his bat is good enough to live with at the bottom of the order.  Keep him as the starter until Swihart is ready to make the transition to the big leagues.

Right field and third base are the real question, and to be honest, while Holt and Betts were solid players last year, they should be viewed more as utility players.  Both have position mobility to play third base and outfield, but the team really needs another big bat to put in the lineup with David Ortiz.

Free agent Pablo Sandoval could be the answer for third base and a big bat.  The Panda Bear is a career .290 hitter who has enough power to make a living at Fenway Park.  He is reportedly seeking a big contract though that may be too rich for the likes of the Sox.

Right field should be able to be filled by Craig and Victorino.  Both have solid bats and are coming off injured years.  A rebound is in store for one of them and worse comes to worse, Holt and Betts can step in.

Pitching is the real area of concern for the Sox as the team does not have a legitimate one or two starter in the rotation.  Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly are the only fixtures in the rotation and they are back of rotation type pitchers.  The team needs to focus its spending on a top of the rotation type player, not at third base.  The best bet would be to lure Jon Lester back to Boston.

Lester has proven that he can pitch here and has tremendous post-season success.  He will cost a lot of money, but what number one pitcher doesn’t? Lester has openly said he would consider coming back to Boston, and the Red Sox have stated that they will be big spenders this offseason.  They should make the move.

The number two pitcher in the lineup should be brought in by trade.  Two pitchers that come to mind are Oakland A’s Jeff Samardzija and Cincinnati Reds Johnny Cueto.  Both are top of the rotation pitchers with Cueto being more of a number one than a number two.  Neither of them have big contracts and could be traded for some solid prospects and then signed to an extension if the Sox wanted to go that route.

There are lots of other names in free agency this offseason as well and plenty of trade targets.  It is not clear who the Sox will seek, but what is clear is that the Sox will be buyers.  They need to be.

Meanwhile…

bost-14-mast-logo-bigBU Mens hockey had a big win over rival Boston College Friday night, winning 5-3 in Chestnut Hill.  The team was down 3-2 in the third period when freshman sensation Jack Eichel notched his fifth goal of the year.  Minutes later Evan Rodrigues and Nikolas Olsson each put one in the net to secure the victory.

The team was unable to carry that momentum over to Saturday night’s home matchup with the Connecticut Huskies as they tied 4-4.  The Terriers are now winless in their last two games at Agganis Arena and in the month of November.
Celtics Scare
The Celtics had a scare on Friday night when they took on the struggling Indiana Pacers.  Rookie Marcus Smart went down with an ankle injury during the fourth quarter and was carted off.  Fortunately, X-rays have shown the injury was only a sprain and Smart should be back in a 2-3 weeks.

The C’s hung on to win against the Pacers and then took down a good Chicago Bulls team on Saturday night without Smart or starter Rajon Rondo.  The Celtics have pulled to 3-3 on the year after what may have been one of the better wins in Coach Brad Stevens young career.

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Posted by: Alex Hirsch on