So to really nobody's surprise the Red Sox season came to an end at the hands of the Houston Astros. Boston fans are spoiled so just winning the AL East and making the playoffs isn't considered nearly enough. Therefore you've heard the hue and cry to fire manager John Farrell and make lots of changes. That shouldn't happen and I really don't think it will. That said - what changes would I suggest to make the 2018 Red Sox better than the 2017 version?
Boston is set at starting outfield with Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley Jr. They are young, affordable and with tremendous upside as a group. The team is also set at both catcher with Christian Vazquez (and Sandy Leon) and at third with 20-year old Rafael Devers. There's also 2-more years left to determine if Xander Bogaerts is actually their long term solution at short.
That leaves first base, DH, utility roles and surprisingly second base as question marks for 2018.
Do the Red Sox open the checkbook to try and sign Eric Hosmer as a free agent to fill their first base need? That's the big question. If not Hosmer do they bring back Mitch Moreland? How about moving AAAA 28-year old slugger Bryce Brentz to first? He hit 31 HR in 450 AB for Pawtucket and he's right handed. I don't think that'll happen either. Maybe a trade instead? What will happen at first will be the big question for Boston fans this offseason.
Another big question is DH. Hanley Ramirez is due $22 million next season but can the Red Sox really give another 600 AB to a guy with just 23 HR, a .750 OPS and expect to go further than the first round of the playoffs? I don't think so either. Another big consideration is Hanley's $22 million 2019 option that vests with just 497 plate appearances next year. Nobody wants to see that happen. Again - do they try to solve this with a free agent like JD Martinez? Or would that money be better spent solving the issue with first base?
For utility outfielder the Occam's Razon solution would be to promote Rusney Castillo from Pawtucket. You really can't bury him there another season and Boston has him on the books for almost $12 million anyway. Why not give him a role and some AB with the big club?
For utility infielder I think most people will agree it's time to end the Brock Holt experience. Yes he's scrappy and will play whatever position you ask him to. Also true that he's dangerously close to not hitting his weight (and he's just 180-pounds!). The easy solution is to re-sign Eduardo Nunez especially given the question marks about Dustin Pedroia's knee.
Speaking of Pedroia. Hard to believe but his redass, dirt-dog style is wearing very thin on Boston fans. And his hometown discount contract is no longer seen as such a big plus. He's under contract for 4-more years but will his balky knee allow him to warrant a starting role for more than 1 or 2 more seasons? It is not going to end well in Boston for Pedroia.
Next time I'll take a look at the pitching and coaching staff.