How Will the Red Sox Fair in 2020?

We are one week away from the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season. For teams like the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees, that means getting back into the playoffs. As for the Red Sox, they are not looking like postseason contenders, even with a shorter season. How will the Red Sox fair in 2020? Well, right now, the World Series odds for the 2020 Red Sox are actually worse than what they were back in March. This past offseason saw some big names leave the Red Sox organization, with Rick Porcello signing with the New York Mets, and Mookie Betts and David Price were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The rival New York Yankees on the other hand, signed the biggest fish in the free agency pond in Gerrit Cole. 

During the offseason, the Red Sox had to rework their system. With the firing of Davered sox fair Dombrowski in September, they needed a new President of Baseball Operations. Near the end of October, the Red Sox got their guy in Chaim Bloom. Prior to joining Boston, Bloom was the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Tampa Bay Rays. Now the Chief Baseball Officer for the Red Sox, Bloom was tasked with trying to get the Red Sox back into the postseason. From trading catcher Sandy Leon, to signing infielder Jose Peraza and pitcher Martin Perez, fans were left scratching their heads. Key players like Rick Porcello and Brock Holt signed with new teams, and the Red Sox did not look the same prior to Spring Training. 

How the Red Sox Fair in 2020 Is a Matter of Chance

In January of 2020, the Red Sox were hit by the Houston Astros cheating scandal, when former manager Alex Cora was named in the report in regards to Houston’s involvement in cheating during the 2017 season. Cora was the bench coach for Houston at the time, and was one of the main people who was involved in the scandal. This lead to Cora resigning from the Red Sox, and left a hole in the manager position with less than a month before Spring Training. Between finding a new manager, and trading Mookie Betts and David Price, the Red Sox seem to be in rebuilding mode. 

While the rest of the American League East has fallen silent, the New York Yankees keep looking for ways to improve. They brought back veteran outfielder Brett Gardner with a one year contract, and signed Gerrit Cole to a massive nine year, $324 million dollar contract. This contract is the richest contract that has ever been given to a Major League Baseball player. Cole finished the 2019 season 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts. While he didn’t get a ring with the Houston Astros, he did pretty well in the 2019 season. The new ace of the Yankees is looking to improve upon his 2019 season in 2020. While the Yankees are down one starting pitcher with Luis Severino out with Tommy John surgery, they still have plenty of weapons in their arsenal. 

The Difference Between the Red Sox and the Yankees

With Rick Porcello signing with the New York Mets, David Price being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chris Sale having Tommy John surgery in April, the Red Sox only have three reliable starters in Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Martin Perez. Granted, the Red Sox did sign starting pitcher Collin McHugh before COVID-19 shut down the season. However, manager Ron Roenicke stated that McHugh might not be ready for the start of the season.  The Yankees on the other hand, have a full five man rotation, plus a few relievers that can start at a moment’s notice. Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox have been scrambling to try and find a few good starting pitchers for the Red Sox, but as of now, there is currently an audition in Boston to see who will be starting this season. While the Red Sox do have a solid starting lineup with JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, pitching, whether it’s from the starting rotation or the bullpen, is what is going to be important in this short season. 

For the Yankees, they too have a solid starting lineup with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit. Over the past few seasons, the big three of the New York Yankees have been a force in their lineup. Catcher Gary Sanchez has been a force in the Yankees lineup since he came onto the scene in 2015. Last season, despite committing fifteen errors as a catcher, he was named the American League All Star for the second time. Sanchez also hit 34 homeruns with 77 RBI’s. His career fielding percentage is .988% in his four seasons so far with the Yankees. Aaron Judge is the big name around the Big Apple, and last season kept crushing it both defensively and offensively. The 2017 American League Rookie of the Year won the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019, as well as hit his 100th career home run. In total, he hit .272 with 27 homeruns and 62 RBI’s in the 2019 campaign. Luke Voit, unlike Sanchez and Judge, didn’t start his career with the Yankees. The Yankees acquired him from the St Louis Cardinals prior to the 2018 trade deadline. In 157 games with the Yankees as a first baseman, Voit has 35 homeruns and 95 RBI’s, and he only keeps getting better and better each time he steps up to the plate. 

A few things have been keeping the Yankees apart from the Red Sox over the past few years. The Red Sox have won two World Series Championships since 2010, but the Yankees haven’t won since 2009. The first thing is the Yankees keep looking for ways to improve. The signing of Gerrit Cole this past offseason, as well as the signings of DJ LeMahieu, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton prior to the 2019 season are proof that the Yankees want to add championship number 28 to their circle. In a way, the Yankees keep looking for that new puzzle piece, whereas the Red Sox keep looking to rebuild after winning a championship. 

How Will The Red Sox Fair in 2020?

Will the Red Sox do well in the short 2020 season? Only time can tell that. Right now, it’s not looking good for the nine time World Series Champions. With the schedule being mainly the American and National League East teams, it will be an uphill challenge for the Red Sox, especially with the reigning World Series Champion Washington Nationals in their schedule. The Yankees on the other hand, are out to win. After losing to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship series last postseason, many on the Yankees are looking to climb over that hurdle and make it into the 2020 World Series. Bringing in Cole to their rotation, and having a healthy lineup and bullpen is what will set them apart from the rest of the teams in the American League East. Many might say to not count the Red Sox out of the race, however, statistics don’t lie, and as of right now, the Red Sox have a mountain to climb. 

Surgery Could Save Sandoval’s Career

Pablo Sandoval was probably pretty disappointed when he found out he was going to need season-ending shoulder surgery. Nobody wants to be told they’re done for the year when it’s only just begun. If there’s a silver lining, however, it’s that surgery could save Sandoval’s career.

Let’s face it; 2016 was shaping up to be another lost season for Boston’s maligned third basemanSurgery Could Save Sandoval's Career. Coming off the worst year of his career, he arrived at spring training overweight (again), failed to bat said weight and wound up losing his starting job to a player making $17 million less than him. Sandoval rode the pine in April, appearing in just three games as Shaw and the Red Sox got off to torrid starts.

Sandoval was stuck. His team had little use for him while his contract and recent performance made him untradeable. So he wasted away on the bench, watching Shaw’s success systematically destroy whatever shot he had at redemption in 2016.

Now, with Sandoval out for the rest of the year, he’ll have to wait until 2017 to get back in Boston’s good graces. That gives him loads of time to get in the best shape of his life and prove he’s serious about his conditioning. It also gives him time to fix whatever broke in his swing last year and work on his defense.

Sandoval has nothing but time. The question is: will he use it effectively?

Surgery Could Save Sandoval’s Career, or Finish it

A year off could do Sandoval wonders. It certainly did for John Lackey, another West Coast star who initially struggled upon signing a big contract with the Red Sox. After pitching at a historically awful level in 2011, Lackey missed all of ’12 recovering from Tommy John surgery. It was a turning point in his career, as a slimmed-down Lackey returned to form in 2013 and is still going strong as he enters his late 30s.

Surgery could save Sandoval’s career, too..It’s not hard to imagine him having a similar renaissance next year, given that he’ll only be 30. He’ll also be extra motivated to win his job back after everything that’s happened this spring.

On the other hand, going under the knife may only hasten Sandoval’s decline. Adrian Gonzalez fell off significantly as a hitter following the same procedure, which doesn’t bode well for Sandoval. He may also find that taking a whole year off severely disrupts his timing, which could prevent him from having the kind of start he needs to secure regular playing time again.

How the rest of Sandoval’s career plays out will likely be decided by what he does over the next calendar year. If he buckles down and sheds some pounds, he may yet find his way back into Boston’s lineup. But if he sits around and lets his skills continue to erode, he better get used to watching Travis Shaw at the hot corner.

The Red Sox Injuries Keep Adding Up

As of April 24th, 6 different Red Sox have been placed on the disabled list and while that may not seem like a large amount, the Red Sox injuries keep adding up:Red Sox Injuries

  • Christian Vazquez: placed 15 day-disabled list retroactive to March 25; recovering from Tommy John surgery
  • Carson Smith: placed on 15 day-disabled list retroactive to March 25; forearm strain
  • Eduardo Rodriguez: placed on 15 day-disabled list with right knee injury
  • Brandon Workman: placed on 15 day-disabled list while recovering from Tommy John surgery; transferred to 60 day-disabled list on 4/13
  • Pablo Sandoval: placed on 15 day-disabled list retroactive to April 11; shoulder strain
  • Joseph Kelly: placed on 15 day-disabled with right shoulder impingement

Losing E-Rod and Kelly has proven to be a significant blow to an already struggling rotation. With the loss of Carson Smith the bullpen has been severely overworked, but it has opened up opportunities for guys to step up. One of those guys has been Steven Wright. Wright, who has been the most consistent and dependable starter by far, has notched a 1-1 record with a 1.40 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. While it remains to be seen if he stays in the rotation once Rodriguez returns, his 3 quality starts have surely earned him that right.

The return of Christian Vazquez from Tommy John surgery seem to have really paid off in small samples for the pitchers—most notably Rick Porcello. Porcello’s last 2 starts against the Jays and the Rays have been quite encouraging going 2-0, with 13 K’s in 13.1 IP. But this time is far from fixed and really could use a boost from guys who are on the mend. With that said though there is no guarantee the returns of E-Rod and Smith will pay dividends instantly,but what it should do is help stabilize the pitching staff as a whole.

The Sox currently sit in second place at 9-9 trailing the Orioles by 2.5 games. While I’m still hopefully that they can grab some wins during the 2 game set in Atlanta against the Braves and then back to Boston for 2 more, it’s pretty clear that they cannot afford another injury. God forbid another starter goes down with something, it begs the question: what the hell will this team do?

Christian Vazquez: The Pitcher Whisperer

Hey Dave, are your pitchers struggling early on this season? Let me introduce you to Christian Vazquez, also known as The Pitcher Whisperer.

It’s no secret that the current Red Sox rotation struggled right out of the gate posting an American League worst 7.32 ERA thru the first 9 games of the season. Pitcher WhispererIt’s also no secret that last May the Sox had to rush Blake Swihart to the major leagues after losing both Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan to injury. And now, with a healthy Vazquez returning to form after recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox had no choice but to bring him back to help stabilize this disaster of a rotation.

Pitcher Whisperer Gets Results

In his first major league start since returning from Tommy John surgery, Vazquez showed Red Sox Nation why he’s highly regarded as one of the top catchers in the game today. Not only did he help guide Porcello to his 2nd win of the year (6.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 B and 8 K’s), but he also showed us his cannon of an arm by gunning down Tulowitski in the 1st inning with a nasty pick-off at 1st.

Up next, David Price who is known to get off to a slow start in the month of April (4.70 ERA in April since 2013) looked to have some good chemistry with Vazquez behind the plate. Price only allowed 2 ER in 7.0 IP, while striking out 9 Jays en-route to his 2nd win of the season.

Now I’m not saying Vazquez was 100% responsible for the back-to-back wins against the Jays, but it’s hard not to notice how the pitchers respond to his game calling ability. In my opinion, Porcello looked like a completely different pitcher confidence wise; he was throwing more of his sinker and attacking the strike zone. Nothing against Swihart by any means, but clearly pitchers seem to perform better with Vazquez as their battery-mate.

Back in the winter of 2015, during the Red Sox Winter Weekend, Joe Kelly had nothing but praise for the young defensive catcher, and even went as far to  compare him to his former teammate and catcher in St. Louis, Yadier Molina. “Mini Yadi. That’s his nickname. I call him that”, said Kelly.

Now obviously that’s a pretty big comparison for someone who has only been in the major leagues for less than 2 full seasons, but it’s not far-fetched. Christian is a special talent no doubt about that and as time goes on he will only become that much better. But in the mean time the Sox don’t need him to be “Yadier 2.0” they just need him to be Christian Vazquez, the Pitcher Whisperer for the Boston Red Sox.