Red Sox

Can Boston Red Sox win without Mookie Betts? David Ortiz has simple response

Can Boston Red Sox win without Mookie Betts? David Ortiz has simple response

The Boston Red Sox have a tough task trying to replace the elite production Mookie Betts provided at the plate and in the outfield, but David Ortiz is confident the team will eventually plug the holes that losing an MVP-caliber player creates.

The Red Sox legend addressed reporters at JetBlue Park on Thursday and touched on a number of subjects, including a question on whether Boston can win without Betts after it traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this month.

"They won without me," Ortiz said, immediately followed by some laughs. "I'm not saying that Mookie is not a big piece of what we are here. But once that happens, you got to move on. I was part of this ballclub in 2016, and in 2018 we won, and I wasn't playing. As a player, we are a big part of a team, but we also are replaceable. I'm not saying we're going to replace Mookie tomorrow, but sometimes another player shows up and does things that help you win ballgames.

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"This organization really appreciates as a player what we bring to the table, but they also know how to fix the (weak) spots somehow, some way. Mookie put a big hole in our lineup, but I'm pretty sure the front office at some point will figure out how to cover some of the holes that we're going to have because Mookie was good hitting, he was good defensively and he was good off-the-field. It takes time to replace that, but this organization, I know, is good at that, replacing things and moving forward."

The Red Sox did bounce back well from losing Ortiz. They made the playoffs in 2017 before winning a franchise-record 108 regular season games and the World Series in 2018. The Sox also won the World Series in 2013 following a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers in 2012 that sent high-priced veterans Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and others to Los Angeles. 

Each situation is different, though, and it's hard to envision the Red Sox competing for a playoff spot in 2020 with their current roster. Boston's offense should still rank among the American League's best. The Red Sox lineup still has some formidable players, highlighted by Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. Pitching is the real issue, especially the rotation. Chris Sale's health is a concern, and Eduardo Rodriguez must prove he can duplicate his excellent 2019 campaign. There are question marks throughout the bullpen as well.

The Red Sox do have some advantages when it comes to replacing Betts. Ownership hasn't been afraid to spend money, and the farm system is better now than it was at the end of last season. There are reasons to believe the Red Sox can recover, but that isn't likely to happen in 2020.

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Who are the best catchers in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best catchers in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

For a position so essential to baseball — no player handles the ball more often — the catching ranks in Red Sox history are surprisingly shallow.

Multiple seasons belong to players like Johnny Peacock, Pinch Thomas, Hick Cady, Roxy Walters, and Muddy Ruel, names that sound like they should belong to bouncers before big leaguers.

The dearth of catching talent may partly explain why the Red Sox routinely featured lousy starting rotations, at least until Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Co. arrived to give the club perennial Cy Young contenders no matter who squatted behind the plate.

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Had this list extended to 10 instead of five, some of the names would surprise you. Wally Schang, anyone? How about Bill Carrigan? There'd definitely be room for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Anyway, the overall talent level may be thin, but the top five are legit, with three All-Stars and two Hall of Famers.

Click here for the top five catchers in Red Sox history.

Dave Roberts says former Red Sox Mookie Betts 'loves' being a Dodger

Dave Roberts says former Red Sox Mookie Betts 'loves' being a Dodger

Are Dave Roberts' latest comments about Mookie Betts just wishful thinking or reality?

The Los Angeles Dodgers manager said some interesting things about his new right fielder on ESPN's "The Sedano Show" Monday, including that he knows how Betts feels about being in Dodger blue.

I think him being in spring training with us — the relationship I have with him personally, and I think some players too, and coaches — it feels like he’s already played a season with us, which is strange. … Mookie’s gotta do what’s best for him and his family once that time does present itself, but I know that he loves being a Dodger.

After just eight spring training games, Betts "loves" being a Dodger? It seems like a stretch, but maybe getting out of Boston was that much of a relief for the 27-year-old.

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With the 2020 season on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak, it's possible we never see Betts play a regular-season game for the Dodgers. Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association agreed on a settlement that would let all pending free agents hit the open market if the coming season is canceled.

Betts, the 2018 American League MVP and World Series champion, likely will test free agency come 2021, and the Dodgers will have to pay a hefty price to keep him in L.A. 

If Dodgers ownership and team president Andrew Friedman decide to shell out the cash, then Betts will probably "love" being a Dodger even more.