Fort Myers, Florida is beginning to heat up, as the team that was hotter than hot during the offseason reported to Spring Training today. The Boston Red Sox have begun their journey toward their 9th World Series title, but many questions still remain. Throughout Spring Training we will get a better sense of how this team is going to shape up. From top to bottom it looks to be one of the deepest teams that Boston has ever seen. Get your sunblock and your cameras ready as we take a trip down to Florida to examine the biggest question marks for this year’s Boston Red Sox.
Question Mark #3- Will David Price have a comeback year in 2017?
$30 million…yes, that is right. David Price was paid $30 million to have his worst year of his career in 2016. Boston is not a place where you can be complacent as an athlete. If you get paid and don’t perform there is a better chance than not that you will be booed out of the stadium every time you step on the field. The passion and love for sports that this city shows toward their teams is unheard of in most places.
Price has pitched in Toronto, Detroit, and Tampa Bay throughout his 7 years previous to playing in Boston. All three cities do not demand nearly as much as fans in Boston do. I am not trying to make any excuses for Price. He did not perform anywhere close to what his salary is portraying he should perform at. But I believe when he stepped under those bright lights at Fenway Park, he faced a huge culture shock, one that he had never encountered before. I believe that this year is going to be different.
During the offseason the Red Sox acquired White Sox ace Chris Sale. Many eyes in Boston will now be fixated on the Sale rather than Price. This will alleviate some of the pressure, as he was expected to jump right into the rotation and become the ace of the staff in 2016. Not to mention the Red Sox also have last year’s Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, who will be toeing the rubber every 5th day. The Red Sox front office noticed that Price felt the weight of 37,949 Red Sox fanatics on him every time he stood in the middle of Fenway Park. Now with the attention off of him slightly, I believe that Price will be able to hold up to his contract and focus solely on pitching. But make no mistake, Price needs to get off to a fast start in 2017 or Red Sox fans will be calling for his head.
Question Mark #2- Is Pablo Sandoval going to have a productive year?
The past two years for Pablo Sandoval have been a rollercoaster ride to say the least. After having his worst year statistically and physically he followed up his 2015 campaign by spending 159 games out of 162 on the DL in 2016. Regarded as one of the top third basemen when he played for San Francisco, Sandoval is now fighting for a starting spot with the Boston Red Sox.
Many questions have been asked about Sandoval’s weight issues. In 2016 “The Panda” came in looking more like sumo wrestler than a baseball player. The weight issues clearly affected his play and health. The word around Red Sox camp is that Sandoval has finally slimmed down and is in the best shape of his life. He has also dedicated himself to becoming a better player than when he won three World Series titles with the Giants. Sandoval said
“My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that he had already accomplished.” Sandoval said. “I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be.”
The first step with any problem is admitting there is one. Sandoval has clearly acknowledged his issues and is working hard to achieve some personal goals he has set for himself. All signs point to Sandoval actually having a comeback year in 2017.
Question Mark #1- How will the Red Sox lineup coop with the loss of David Ortiz’s bat?
As everybody has probably heard, David Ortiz hung up his cleats at the end of the 2016 season for the last time. Big Papi was a Red Sox legend on the field and off. His presence will be missed tremendously as a leader and as a big bat in the middle of the Red Sox lineup.
The question remains whether or not the Red Sox have a bat that can replace Ortiz’s. Sorry Red Sox fans but the answer to this one is no. Ortiz made other players around him better, simply with his presence in the on-deck circle. Mookie Betts who hit ahead of him in the lineup for the majority of the season came in second place in the MVP voting. In the offseason the Red Sox signed Mitch Moreland to try and fill the void that Ortiz’s bat has left.
Moreland has decent power, usually averaging around 23 home runs a year and 80 RBIs. Moreland’s numbers are nowhere near the production of Ortiz. But one question still remains, will it even matter? The Red Sox have the deepest pitching rotation in the MLB and their lineup will still score plenty of runs without Ortiz.
Don’t worry Red Sox nation, the Sox will still be World Series favorites no matter what.