Eleven and a half months ago the Red Sox were on top of the baseball world as they had just defeated the LA Dodgers in the World Series. Now almost a year later, Alex Cora and the Sox find themselves an astonishing 18 gamed back in the division and 9 in the Wild Card race. Not only are the Red Sox back in the standings but they’re missing a top executive role as just last week Dave Dombrowski was fired from his role with the club. To describe this season as a disappointment would be an understatement as it was the last thing Red Sox nation wanted or even expected. After watching a failure of a year in 2014 after winning it all the season before, an October with no baseball was not what was on the mind of Red Sox Nation. Coming off a 119-win season (including Postseason), the bar was set for potential back to back championship seasons. Let’s see what went wrong for the Sox in my Red Sox season recap.
After playing deep into October, your bond to be tired and still wiped out from a longer season than normal in the months before. This happens with every defending champ as they start up baseball activities in February soon after the Super Bowl. Alex Cora had a questionable approach to this ordeal as he had the pitching staff preserve their arms on a certain throwing program. Cora had pitchers throw under an interesting routine with minimal innings in exhibition games. The position players even played a fraction of the tune up games and both strategies were criticized by the Boston media.
The defending champs opened their season with a long west coast swing starting in Seattle for Opening Night. The season started off with an abysmal 3-7 road trip and the Sox never really picked up steam after that. With hot and cold stretches over the summer months the closest the Sox came to becoming a winning club was in late July when the Sox had won 9 games in the past two weeks and were still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Chris Sale the ace of the staff was pitching on Sunday Night Baseball at Fenway against the Yankees and the lefty would get steamrolled by the Bronx lineup. After that game the Sox would go on to lose 7 games in a row which was without question the lowest point of the season. After a pretty average rest of August, the Yankees came back to Fenway for an early September weekend series in Boston. The Yankees would outslug the Sox winning ¾ and putting a virtual end to Boston’s season. With 6 games left in Boston and a handful on the road, the Fenway faithful has little to cheer about but I’m sure they’ll be in full support with the remaining ballgames. The Yankees wouldn’t deliver the knockout punch to just the Sox season but also Dave Dombrowski’s stint with Boston.
After the September Sunday Night Baseball game against New York, the Red Sox announced late that night that Dave Dombrowski was let go from his role of President of Baseball Operations. Dombrowski did what he was hired to do since he was hired late in the 2015 season. Dave had a reputation of selling farm systems and trading prospects for proven MLB players. Dave did this with the Tigers and Marlins before coming to Boston, winning one World Series in 2003 with Florida. Dombrowski traded top prospects for Chris Sale prior to 2017 and going into 2018 added slugger J.D. Martinez and hired Alex Cora from the Astros staff to manage the club. This to go along with Sale and David Price, who was signed by Dombrowski in 2016, was the formula that led to a 2018 title. Dave even won executive of the year, as voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America, this past offseason for his miraculous work all last year. 2018 was a record-breaking year and set such an unreachable standard that the Red Sox won’t come close to again. They set the franchise record for wins (108 regular season wins), were dominate from start to finish, swept through the playoffs, were led by great pitching and an offense that led the league in offensive stats. That’s what made this year so frustrating for the fans, sure they weren’t expecting another record-breaking season, but they at least expected to watch a playoff team every night.
Offense was not an issue for this team this season as the Red Sox were in the top five in runs and average virtually all season. After cold starts to the year, J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts started to heat up with the summer and look like the sluggers were used to seeing. Martinez is going to finish the year in the top 10 for batting average but he sure won’t be the only Red Sox on the list. The emergence of the young gun Rafael Devers and stud Xander Bogaerts has been the most enjoyable thing to watch this year. Xander looks like the best shortstop in the game and the 6 year/132 million dollars deal that Xander signed before 2019 looks like a bigger bargain every day. Devers took a huge leap offensively and defensively and he looks quick with his hands at the plate and solid at the hot corner. Devers is hitting a scorching .311 with 29 homers, 107 RBI and did I mention he is only 22. Bogaerts is hitting a fantastic .303 with 31 homers and 106 RBI and Xander has been a sensational shortstop commanding the infield. With these four hots bats in the lineup and the left side of the infield set for the future, this lineup was still lethal. Offense hasn’t been the issue as its been the starting pitching and the bullpen. A cycling bullpen of names all year long and no definitive roles, the Sox bullpen has had some awful and not bad performances. The rise of Josh Taylor and Brandon Workman have easily been the bright spots as everyone else has underperformed. Injures have been pilling up at this point in the season with the already poor performing staff. Chris Sale has been a fraction of his 2018 self and Rick Porcello has one of the worst ERAs in baseball in what is most likely his last year with the Sox. David Price had a very solid season going until injuries caught up with him towards the end of the summer. Nathan Eovaldi, who has been hurt much of the year hasn’t been able to fully display the postseason heroics we saw last October. Injuries to Price, Eovaldi and Sale have been huge blows to the starting staff. Without question the biggest stud in the Sox rotation this year is Eduardo Rodriguez. Eduardo is third in the American League in wins, in which he has set a new career high. His ability to incorporate his off-speed stuff more than ever has truly helped his pitching, along with some help from Red Sox great Pedro Martinez. Rodriguez has been a bright spot when he takes the mound every five days and he is going to be huge for this team in the future.
As for the future the Red Sox have many things to address going forward. First, they will have to find a new leader of the ship as they continue to address the role of President of Baseball ops. Secondly, they must address J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts. J.D. who has an opt out after this season could return for three more years or he could opt out and test the market and make big money as a coveted middle of the lineup slugger. Mookie is a different case however as he is a free agent after next season and has declined multiple long-term deals to stay in Boston and his future remains unclear. The question is how much are the Red Sox willing to pay the MVP? Addressing two of the team’s biggest stars and giving a complete overhaul of MOST of the pitching from top to bottom is a must. I have never been more intrigued to see how the Sox attack this offseason list of tasks and I can’t wait for the Sox to get back to their winning ways. In a season full of ups and downs the support and fan love I have for this team will never go away. Till next season,