A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE RED SOX
The Red Sox can win the division because the whole division has holes. This is the worst AL East I've ever seen.... There's no No. 1 starter, no No. 2. Clay Buchholz is a zero; he's got no tiger in him. I don't see that in his makeup at all.... Joe Kelly is a teaser. His stuff is good enough, but like Buchholz, he's never seized an upper-level role.... Rick Porcello is a 4. He can be better, but not much. He's a sinkerball guy, and this team will catch the ball better than Detroit did, which won't be hard.... Justin Masterson has an average fastball and breaking ball. If he gets some velocity back, he moves up to a 3.... I'm excited about Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez, two kids who can help them down the stretch, but they need to pitch at least half a year in the minors.... Pablo Sandoval is not in as bad shape as people think. He'll be fine in the middle of the order.... The Fenway fans are unforgiving, so if Hanley Ramirez screws up in leftfield, the question is whether he will go into a shell. I think he'll be fine.... Mookie Betts is a better offensive player than Rusney Castillo right now. Betts should start in centerfield but shift to right eventually.... They're working with Xander Bogaerts to make more contact and use the whole field. He's a work in progress, but I think he'll be a productive shortstop.... Christian Vazquez is a very solid catch-and-throw guy behind the plate.... Their bullpen is sketchy. Koji Uehara looks healthy but old. His velocity is down, so he'll have to throw more splits than ever.
The signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval made the Red Sox better, but they created a roster crunch in the outfield. Ramirez, Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts are the potential starters, leaving Shane Victorino, Allen Craig and Daniel Nava on the bench. That doesn't even account for Jackie Bradley Jr., one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, being ticketed for the minors because of his plate struggles. What the Sox could use is another lefthanded bat and some depth at catcher, where Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan are holding on until prospect Blake Swihart is ready. What about a disappointing-prospect swap that sends Bradley to Houston in exchange for Jason Castro? The Astros would get a cost-controlled piece to shore up a below-average defense, while Castro would help balance the Sox' lineup and bolster their weakest position. It seems clear that Boston has no role for Bradley with the emergence of Betts.
LEAGUE RANK 4
MANAGER JOHN FARRELL 3RD SEASON WITH RED SOX
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
MICHAEL IVINS/BOSTON RED SOX/GETTY IMAGES (RAMIREZ)
BRYNN ANDERSON/AP (PORCELLO)