February 2, 2016

The Sporting News Predicts Red Sox World Championship

Punxsutawney Phil can go phuck himself. The true sign of spring is the arrival on newsstands of the pre-season baseball annuals. And this year, my favourite annual is The Sporting News, which predicts the Red Sox to beat the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Two other magazines tab Boston as one of the wild card teams. (None of the three annuals pick the Yankees to do anything.)

The Sporting News
After consecutive last-place finishes, new Boston exec Dave Dombrowski has added hope with a bolstered rotation and bullpen. The Sox have the talent to go worst-to-first.

Scout's View: David Price changes everything. He takes pressure off [Clay Buchholz], he takes the pressure off the young lefty [Eduardo Rodriguez] and Joe Kelly. They don't have to do too much. It takes pressure off their manager. John Farrell now has a very deep bullpen, too. That pitching has stabilized itself. They have a lot of good kids that can play like Mookie [Betts] and [Xander] Bogaerts and [Jackie] Bradley to go with Dustin Pedroia and [David] Ortiz. Now, if they can get Hanley [Ramirez] and Panda [Pablo Sandoval] out of the fat farm and play the way they should, they're dangerous.

Bottom Line: The Red Sox have gone from worst to first before, wining it all in 2013. They have also been champions of the offseason, only to see things fall apart once the games counted. No one in New England is taking a playoff berth for granted, but no one would be surprised if it happens.

AL Divisions: Red Sox, Royals, Rangers, with Cleveland, Astros (WC)
NL Divisions: Mets, Cubs, Giants, with Dodgers, Cardinals (WC)
ALCS: Red Sox over Royals
NLCS: Giants over Cubs
World Series: Red Sox over Giants
MVPs: Trout, Harper
Cy Youngs: Archer, Kershaw
Scouting Report: They signed David Price when they hired Dave Dombrowski, and it's understandable. They overpaid for him and Craig Kimbrel, but it's what they had to do, and they didn't take anything away from their major league team to get them. They're the best team in that division, for me, but they still need a guy to start Game 2 of a playoff series. They're going to get more from Pablo Sandoval - they can't get much worse - and while Hanley Ramirez will probably be a poor first baseman, he'd going to bring value with his bat. Rusney Castillo doesn't have to be a great player, like Mookie Betts already is, and Chris Young is a good fourth outfielder who can play half the time, if needed. They can expect their young core - Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr. - to keep getting batter, and Dustin Pedroia is still an All-Star-caliber second baseman. After a long offseason, I expect him to be healthy and productive again.

Final Analysis: The Red Sox have finished last in three of the last four seasons, so naturally Las Vegas gives them the third-highest odds to win the World Series in 2016. That sounds optimistic, given a careful examination of the roster, but stranger things have happened. If Bogaerts and Betts develop into All-Stars and Ortiz digs deep to deliver one final monster season before walking into the sunset, the Red Sox could be ready to roll on offense. Starting pitching remains a concern, but count on this much - they'll finish closer to first than last.

AL East: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, Rays
AL Divisions: Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers with Red Sox, Astros (WC)
NL Divisions: Mets, Cubs, Giants with Nationals, Diamondbacks (WC)
ALCS: Blue Jays over Royals
NLCS: Giants over Cubs
World Series: Blue Jays over Giants
MVPs: Trout (with Betts 9th), Harper
Cy Youngs: Price, Kershaw
The Sox had a busy winter, reeling in David Price and one of the game's best closers, Craig Kimbrel, following a last-place finish in 2015. If Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval start earning their free-agent riches, Boston could turn it around quickly.

Scout's Take: Things are changing with Dombrowski in charge. He's a hard guy to work for and can be hard on his guys. But he gets things done. Dombrowski likes to trade prospects for proven guys. He can do a lot more of that with this club than in Detroit. They've got a great system, full of players. ... They're going to be stuck with two mistakes by Cherington: Ramirez and Sandoval. They're going to play Ramirez at first - that'll be a disaster. He's lost his skills, and he's a bad guy, too. An infield with Ramirez and Sandoval will be the worst in the majors. The pitchers will lose their minds. ... Their bullpen was terrible last year. It'll be a lot better with Kimbrel and Carson Smith.

AL East: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Orioles
AL Divisions: Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers with Red Sox, Astros (WC)
NL Divisions: Nationals, Pirates, Giants with Cubs, Diamondbacks (WC)
World Series: Blue Jays versus Nationals
MVPs: Correa, Goldschmidt
Cy Youngs: Sale, Scherzer


allan said...

News: "Yankees first base prospect Greg Bird will have right shoulder surgery Tuesday and will miss the entire 2016 season, the team announced."

That's a shame.

Jere said...

The Bird thing is similar to the Vazquez thing with us last year. So I guess this means I don't have to hear WFAN callers saying how Bird should outright replace Teixeira because he had a few good weeks anymore.

FenFan said...

The Bird isn't the word...

FenFan said...

I haven't seen much discussion about this but Lindy's makes a good point about Sandoval. As much as the fans and the media are down on HanRam, Panda was a big disappointment last season (OPS+ of 76 and WAR of -0.9 compared to 90 and -1.3 for HanRam). If he can turn around his fortunes in 2016 and be the player he was in SF, the offense as well as the defense will be formidable.