Red Sox

BASEBALL 2017: Sox will be good . . . but not better

BASEBALL 2017: Sox will be good . . . but not better

It’s hard to see how the 2017 Red Sox can be better than last year’s team in the regular season.

That doesn’t mean the Sox won’t be one of the best teams in the American League and win the division. They probably will be, and they probably will.

They’ll just be a little worse than they were a year ago along the way.


Put Tyler Thornburg’s injury aside. Ignore the potential for a whole season of Andrew Benintendi. Even Pablo Sandoval’s possible resurgence probably won’t matter too much either.

The balance sheet comes down to another trio.

The Red Sox lost a huge piece in David Ortiz. They gained a huge piece in Chris Sale.

And then they lost, for an unknown amount in time, an equally important pitcher in David Price.

Add one, subtract two, and even John Farrell can do that math: you’re not coming out on top.

These are the mega pieces. Ortiz, per, was worth 4.4 wins above replacement last season. Price was worth 4.5. Sale was worth 5.2.

So much really does hinge on Price’s elbow, no matter how sensitive to the market the lefty may be. No matter how much he may have disappointed some fans.

He’s still one of the most valuable pitchers around if he’s healthy.

Last year’s team won 93 games. It’s easy to forget how good a 93-win team is -- and how hard it is to do again.

The Sox had the best offense in the majors in 2016, a feat they are very unlikely to replicate without Ortiz, although they should still be among the leaders.

FanGraphs constantly updates its projections, using depth charts and estimated playing time percentages. The encouraging thing for Sox fans is the fact that the Sox still look like they’re one of the top two teams in the AL.

Last year’s team well outperformed expectations of an 88-win season.

This year, Boston and Cleveland are both pegged by FanGraphs for a 91-71 record, better than every team except two in the National League, the Dodgers and Cubs (94-68).

Last year’s Red Sox carried a lot of surprises, don’t forget.

“There are two factors here, when you're looking at FanGraphs’ projections,” FanGraphs editor Paul Swydan explained. “One, the big player the Red Sox lost in David Ortiz, had a relatively modest projection last season. For one thing, he was 40, and there aren't a lot of good 40-year-old baseball players. For another, he was a DH, and DHs tend to have less robust WAR projections because they don't play defense.

“The second is Mookie Betts. Last year at this time, we were all hopeful Betts would blossom into the star he has become, but objective projection systems weren't yet projecting that output. Now, they are. Add a full season of Benintendi and Sale into the mix, and you're left with a team that looks slightly better on paper than last year’s did at this time, despite not having Ortiz and a less-than-full season projected for Price.”

And now what becomes of those surprises? How does the catcher split work out? Rick Porcello’s not going to have the same numbers he did a year ago.

Mookie Betts was amazing. How amazing is his follow-up? The list of questions like that is long.

Long enough for a projected 91-win season.

The final number doesn’t matter as long as the Sox make the playoffs, and this time, advance. They should make it to October.

Red Sox trade Marrero to Diambondbacks

Red Sox trade Marrero to Diambondbacks

The Red Sox traded infielder Deven Marrero to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named or cash. 

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made the announcement on Saturday.

Marrero, 27, was fighting for one of the final roster spots as a bench player, along with utility man Brock Holt.  The first-round pick in 2012 out of Arizona State had spent his entire pro career with the Red Sox organization. He appeared in 109 major league games from 2015-17, making 50 starts at third base, nine at second base, and five at shortstop.

In 2017, the right-handed hitter played in a career-high 71 major league games, batting .211 with four home runs and 27 RBI. 

Early exit for Sale after liner off leg, but he's expected to be OK

Early exit for Sale after liner off leg, but he's expected to be OK

Red Sox ace Chris Sale is expected to be able to make his Opening Day start after he was struck in the left leg by a line drive off the bat of the Houston Astros' J.D. Davis in the first inning on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla., and had to leave his final spring training start. 

After being examined by team medical personnel on the field, Sale walked back to the dugout. He was taken for precautionary X-rays which showed no structural damage.

The Red Sox said Sale sustained a contusion on his left leg.  "I don't see anything lingering from this. It looked a lot worse than it was," Sale told reporters. "It scared the hell out of me,”

Sale is scheduled to be the Red Sox Thursday in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Manager Alex Cora and Sale said he'd be OK to make the start.