Bovada.lv has come up with over/under win totals heading into the 2015 season. It has the Yankees at 81 1/2, which is quite reasonable. But wait, they have the Boston Red Sox at…. 86 1/2. Are the Red Sox really thought of as a potential playoff team after 2 last place finishes in the past 3 years? They have had more firesales over the past 3 seasons then the Miami Marlins! Being that their over/under is 5 wins higher than the Yankees, I decided to compare the two rivals to see if the Red Sox really can win 15 more games than last year.
Catcher: The Red Soxs are expected to go into the year with Christian Vazquez as their starting catcher. Nut sure how much they can expect out of him, his offense is mediocre at best. He seems to have a strong throwing arm behind the plate, nailing 52% of baserunners during his 55 game stint with the Red Sox. Right now at his age and with his stats, he looks like a better hitting version of Jose Molina. Would be skeptical to have an inexperienced catcher at the Major League level handling a pitching staff that is not very impressive. McCann had a down year at the plate, and his numbers dwarf the production that Vazquez has had throughout his professional career. Not to mention McCann’s defense is superb.
1st Base: Texeira’s objective seems to try and be the next Carlos Pena, hit ground balls into the shift and strike out consistently. Still has power but right now his power isn’t going to be enough. Napoli’s slugging dipped by more than 60 points, but he did walk more and strikeout less. At this stage Napoli is the better hitter, although both players are declining. Either that or Napoli is like the Red Sox, only contributes on odd years.
Edge: Red Sox
2nd Base: Ok well it is already obvious that Stephen Drew makes Alberto Callapso and Dan Uggla look like perennial MVP candidates. It was silly to trade for him, and even dumber to resign him. He is going to make it impossible not to miss Cano. Only bright side for Drew is that it would require a lot of effort to become any worse than he was last year. Pedroia wins this in a landslide.
Edge: Red Sox
3rd Base: Since age 25 Pablo Sandoval has been declining offensively each year. If his stats continue to decline in each year of his contract, he might just be Wil Middlebrooks 2.0 He is clutch, although that only matters if you have opportunities to be clutch. His defense is solid, although his body might break down like CC’s and Fielder’s have. Chase Headley is a superb defender and showed he could hit better outside of Petco. I expect his power numbers to increase, and for his batting average to pick up to around .265.
Shortstop: This position is the battle of the young Shortstops, Sir Didi and Bogaerts. Bogaerts did struggle after being moved to 3B last year but I think he will rebound from that aberration. Didi on the other hand, I don’t have much confidence that his offensive numbers will improve. Hopefully his bat is better than Brendan Ryan’s though, unless I would have to question why Cashman would have two defensive no hitting SS on the team. Or 3 if you consider Stephen Drew as a SS still.
Edge: Red Sox
Left Field: Hmm let me think about how the last few LF in Boston fared. There was that Carl Crawford guy and Johnny Gnomes, I mean Gomes. Yeah not exactly the greatest Red Soxs. Hanley is a solid player when he is on the field, but he is injury prone. He will also be learning a new position, and was never a good defender to being with. I see this being looked at not as when the team signed Manny, but more so talked about with disgust like with Carl Crawford. Gardner is the superior defender, better baserunner and has better durability.
Center Field: Cuban players have been great as of late. However you still don’t know what to expect from Rusney Castillo. He could be Andrew McCutchen or a Jackie Bradley jr, take your pick. Ellsbury is an excellent defender and a solid hitter. Not to mention the great baserunning. The durability is a concern still, although he played through the whole season last year relatively unscathed.
Right Field: Mookie Betts is a young rising star, while Beltran is a wounded falling star. Other than for his power numbers, Beltran might not be any better than Ichiro was last year. Mookie Betts has soared through to minor leagues, and was quite impressive with the Red Sox last year. He is very versatile, playing both OF and IF. I expect him to be a Ben Zobrist type player, but with a higher ceiling.
Edge: Red Sox
DH: The Yankees might be platooning at DH with Garrett Jones and Alex Rodriguez. Either way neither one of them is as good of a hitter as David Ortiz is. I remember being quite satisfied when it looked like David Ortiz was declining back in 2009, and that his career might be over soon. That satisfaction vanished quickly, as Big Papi refuses to succumb to age.
Edge: Red Sox
Starting Pitching: Now this is the toughest one so far, having to pick between two rotations with multiple question marks. The Yankees have an ace in Tanaka, and solid starters in Pineda and Eovaldi. It is unclear whether Pineda and Tanaka can stay healthy for the duration of the season however. Nova comes back in June, and hopefully he can regain his good form. Sabathia seems like a lost cause and might go down as quickly as Johan Santana. The Red Sox on the other hand lack a legitimate ace. Durability is not as much a concern for them, but effectiveness is. Wade Miley is moving from one hitters park to another. Unlike with the D-Backs where he had a great defense and faced a pitcher, he will be facing a DH and have a less impressive defense. Rick Porcello is coming off a career year. What is a fluke or a sign of things to come? Which Clay Buchholz are the Red Sox getting? Is Masterson going to be healthy or effective? Joe Kelley is the one guy in the Red Sox rotation who I am not worried much about.
Edge: Red Sox, mainly because of the Yankees lack of durability.
Bullpen: The Red Sox bullpen might have as many question marks as their rotation? Is Craig Breslow a MLB reliever still? Is Koji our closer, and is he going to decline? Also have to wonder what Mujica, Ogando, and Robbie Ross have to offer. Tazawa is probably their most reliable reliever. The Yankees bullpen is deep. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, David Carpenter, Chasen Shreve and many more. Girardi has a lot of options to utilize during the 2015 season, which helps overcome the injury prone rotation.
So in this position by position battle, the Red Sox won 6-5. However does that make them a logical fit to win 86 games. Considering the Yankees bullpen, catcher, and outfielders on a whole were better I don’t see it happening. Also have to remember that the Red Sox rotation is not great, and neither is their bullpen. They don’t have a veteran catcher to lead the pitching staff, and it is hard to say their defense will prevent many runs. If healthy the Yankees rotation (1-4) of Tanaka, Pineda, Nova, and Eovaldi is the better rotation. Here are my projections for the 2015 season:
Red Sox: 79-83
How do you think each team will do in 2015?