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.
"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.