The AL East is always a cut-throat division. Teams tend to make really bold moves just to show their fanbase they are trying to compete. The Red Sox have made some bad moves in the past when trying to keep up with the Yankees (Carl Crawford, Dice K), but they usually know when to go for it.
The Red Sox definitely ‘went for it’ by giving up a lot of prospects for starter Chris Sale. They have him under contract for three more years, so it’s not like they gave up a ton for just a rental player.
Pablo Sandoval arrived at Spring Training in great shape. Can he maintain this weight or will it be an issue again by the All Star break?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Boston Red Sox.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 93-69
Key Additions: SP Chris Sale, 1B Mitch Moreland, RP Tyler Thornburg, 3B Matt Dominguez, OF Brian Bogusevic, SP Kyle Kendrick & OF Junior Lake
Key Losses: DH David Ortiz, OF Yoan Moncada, 3B Travis Shaw, RP Koji Uehara, RP Brad Ziegler, RP Junichi Tazawa, SP Clay Buchholz, 2B Aaron Hill & C Ryan Hanigan
Interleague Schedule: NL Central
Projected Starters: Sandy Leon, Mitch Moreland, Dustin Pedroia, Pablo Sandoval, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts & Hanley Ramirez
Projected Starting Rotation: Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, David Price, Steven Wright & Drew Pomeranz
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Fantasy Sleeper: SP Steven Wright – He came out of nowhere last season. The knuckleballer had the lowest ERA of any AL pitcher before the All Star break last season. He struggled some after and then landed on the AL in August and stayed there. He went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA and will start the year as the fifth starter. David Price is dealing with elbow issues that may or may not be serious, so Wright could be moved up in the rotation. You can get Wright late in the draft and you would be hard-pressed to find a pitcher that late with this much potential.
Prospects To Keep Your Eye On: 3B Sam Travis – The Red Sox don’t have many MLB-ready prospects in their farm system. They haven’t put them in trades to get some big names over the last two years. Travis isn’t exactly a ‘sexy’ prospect since they have Pablo Sandoval as the starting third baseman and Brock Holt as his backup, but Travis could be a hitter that could bat for average with a little pop. Travis is coming off ACL surgery and will start the season in the minors. He could also play first base if Mitch Moreland doesn’t work out there.
Team Analysis: Boston won the AL East last year, but ran into the Cleveland Indians in the division series. Cleveland swept them and both Rick Porcello and David Price were smoked in the series.
The Red Sox made a huge trade this offseason by unloading some good prospects for starter Chris Sale. They might need him more than they first thought since David Price is currently dealing with some elbow issues. They haven’t ruled out the need for Tommy John surgery, but they are shutting him down for a bit. If Price can stay healthy, the Red Sox would have the best starting rotation in the American League.
Boston will miss the retired David Ortiz in the clubhouse, but they have plenty of bats to fill his DH spot in the lineup. A lot of fantasy baseball sites are claiming that outfielder Mookie Betts might be the #1 fantasy player this season. I am not quite as bullish on him since I think Mike Trout and Jose Altuve will put up better overall numbers this season.
I have the Red Sox winning the AL East again this season, but the Yankees and Blue Jays will be tough competition. I don’t have them eclipsing last year’s win total because I think David Price could face injury issues all season. Pitchers never tend to have productive years when they run into inflammation issues when ramping up in the Spring.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 92.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 90-72 (1st in AL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.