Manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington have begun planning a new look for Red Sox team for 2016, both knowing the organization needs to improve both its defense and pitching should they compete with Toronto and New York. Players like David Price and Jordan Zimmermann will be available as starter options this winter, which is great, but these five issues should be addressed before the Red Sox start tinkering with trade markets:
Where to play Hanley — if they keep him
In 690.2 innings (before tonight’s game) this season, Hanley Ramirez hasn’t played up to snuff for the Red Sox in left field. His UZR/150 (ultimate zone rating per 150 games) is -32.1, with an overall defensive rating of -20.4, good for 11th according to Fan Graphs. In English, Ramirez isn’t the defensive juggernaut in left field Farrell thought, with many fans and experts calling for him to play first base. Should they decide to keep Ramirez and his cumbersome contract, moving him around the outfield or entertaining a new career at first should be visited.
Deal with rotation from within
Giving up 4.82 runs per game certainly won’t put your team in position to win, which is what the Red Sox have faced all season. Wade Miley, Rick Porcello (and his fat contract), and Clay Buchholz are already question marks in terms of health, and rotation position, so figuring out if any minor league prospects are ready could be on Cherington’s radar. Getting an ace like Johnny Cueto isn’t out of the question, but before the Red Sox dabble in free agency, they’ll need to move pieces around and re-evaulate current contracts.
Koji’s best days are gone. Get over it.
He’s done this season due to an apparent wrist fracture, but he was probably close to retirement anyway. The 40-year-old closer was once feared in 9th innings, but is relatively hittable like Junichi Tazawa. But at least Tazawa has age going for him, because at 29, he’s still good for 11 more years. It’s rather obvious what Farrell must do: reverse the roles of these two pitchers, then fire the pitching coach if he refuses to comply.
Start Bradley Jr. and Betts everyday
Having Alejandro De Aza, Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Rusney Castillo certainly gives Farrell something formidable to start 2016 with. De Aza will probably leave, Ramirez should move to first (see above) which leaves the perfect storm of young talent in the outfield. Why the Red Sox aren’t starting these three every day puzzles fans as much as it does these kids. But this is baseball, and when your season is over, crazy things happen — just ask Justin Masterson.
The Boston Red Sox, wholly, aren’t as terrible as their record implies. Much like every team struggling in 2015, Boston has fallen into some misfortunes costly enough to put them out of playoff contention. But when 2016 rolls around, look out.
(Photo by Joe Skipper / Getty Images Sport)