After an abysmal 2014 Boston Red Sox season, it is safe to assume next season there will be some drastic changes made to the team as a whole in order to take a 71-91 team and make them into contenders once again.
The base for a successful team is all there — it just could use a bit more star power. Here are some projections of what the Boston Red Sox roster may look like in 2015.
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C: Christian Vazquez: After hitting .240 while gunning down 52% of attempted base stealers, there is no doubt Vazquez gets his job back. He did everything that was asked of him and his bat will get better next season.
1B: Mike Napoli: No surprise here. Napoli is one of the best players when it comes to getting on base which is why Boston likes him so much.
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2B: Dustin Pedroia: It is time to make Pedey captain of the Red Sox already. He has been a mainstay since 2006 and has been productive every single year.
SS: Xander Bogaerts: After a hot start followed by some rough summer months, Bogaerts will get a second chance to prove he is what scouts dreamt him up to be.
3B: Pablo Sandoval: An adequate third baseman with above-average power, Sandoval could provide the team with some security at the hot corner for 2015 at least.
LF: Daniel Nava: Yes, this is correct. Daniel Nava grabs the starting center field job provided his .363 career OBP in four seasons. He is an on-base machine lacking much trade value so Boston gets good use out of him.
CF: Rusney Castillo: The Cuban defector signed a huge contract with the Boston Red Sox so there is no reason why he should not start given the fact that he played well in his limited time in Boston.
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RF: Mookie Betts: With a bat like Betts, it does not matter where he plays in the field as long as he gets his bat in the lineup. Expect an All-Star caliber season out of Betts.
DH: David Ortiz: After clubbing 35 home runs in 2014, David Ortiz is back in action ready to crush another 30 balls out of the park.
C: David Ross: No, Ross is not a flashy option at catcher, but he still stays. With a market thin on catching, Boston sticks with who they know best.
IF: Jemile Weeks/Jonathan Herrera: No, this is not a joke. Boston needs some depth in the infield and both players have done a respectable job as utility infielders in the past, so Boston lets the pair battle it out and the better man wins.
UTL: Brock Holt: Granted his extreme versatility and ability to get on base at an adequate clip, there is no reason why Boston should let go of Holt which is why he stays.
OF: Shane Victorino: Given his recent injury history, Victorino plays an active role as the team’s fourth outfielder. Any time a lefty is pitching, expect him to take the place of Daniel Nava who struggles mightily against southpaws. Playing in over 100 games if healthy, it will be almost as if Victorino is indeed a starter.
SP: James Shields: No, Jon Lester does not come back to the Red Sox next season. Luckily though, they are able to scoop up veteran righty James Shields for a little less money than Jon Lester.
SP: Justin Masterson: It is clear Boston likes Masterson, so why not get him after a down year? He was an All-Star in 2013 and he is looking to bounce back and have a big year in 2015.
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SP: Joe Kelly: No question about it, Joe Kelly has found his new home and will be mainstay in Boston for years to come.
SP: Clay Buchholz: After a phenomenal 2013 season and a shaky 2014, Boston rolls the dice on Buchholz once again in hopes of a productive season. If not, there is plenty of pitching depth in Pawtucket waiting to be used.
SP: Rubby De La Rosa: For a time, it appeared as though De La Rosa was a lock for the Red Sox rotation. After a few rocky outings at the end of the year due to a huge workload (161.2 IP), De La Rosa still gets the job while manager John Farrell gives him a strict pitch limit early in the year.
RP: Tommy Layne: Tommy Layne has one job and he does it well. Dominating left-handed hitters, there is no doubt Layne had a big 2014 season. Whether or not he posts a 0.95 ERA once again is up for debate, but it seems possible.
RP: Phil Coke: In need of a lefty to compliment Layne, Boston turns to the free agency market and lands Phil Coke. Coke, 32, held lefties to a .257 batting average while posting a 3.88 ERA on the year in all.
RP: Alex Wilson: Despite tossing under 20 outings this season, Alex Wilson has earned himself a job in Boston. A solid reliever who can go multiple innings when called upon, Wilson finds himself as a sixth inning man.
RP: Burke Badenhop: After posting a 2.29 ERA in a true breakout season, there is no doubt Boston does whatever they can to bring back reliever Burke Badenhop. An enforcer of the double play, the sinkerballer tosses some crucial innings for Boston next season.
RP: Steven Wright: Like Tim Wakefield, Steven Wright throws the knuckleball. He carries the torch but unlike Wakefield, he does it as a long reliever after some impressive outings last season.
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RP: Junichi Tazawa: Ever since 2012 Junichi Tazawa has been one of the best relievers on the team. Racking up holds left and right, Tazawa gets the eighth inning on a nightly basis once again next season.
RP: Edward Mujica: Now this one may come as a bit of a shocker. Instead of option for veteran Koji Uehara, Boston trusts Edward Mujica to close out games. He did so eight times this year and 37 times the year before, making it clear he has a closer’s mentality. He posted a 1.78 ERA in 29 appearances after the All-Star break while closing six games in six opportunities which makes it a bit less idiotic to give him the role.
Despite a few minor changes to the Boston Red Sox, the team is going to be a good one. With the biggest additions coming in the rotation, adding Shields and Masterson will make all the difference in the world when it is all said and done.
The lineup is strong although it lacks substantial power while the bullpen is stellar.
The farm system is loaded with talent that is ready to help the big league team whenever it is called upon.
The 2012 Boston Red Sox finished last in the American League East while the 2013 team won the World Series. The 2014 Boston Red Sox finished in last yet again making one wonder if there is a possible pattern to winning. If there is, then 2015 will be a great year.