Welcome to The Stew’s annual team elimination posts. Like our video-game posts of last year, these are best done in theme. This time? We’re going with “Game of Thrones.” Each eliminated team will join the “army of the dead.” But we won’t just talk about their demise. We’ll also highlight some positives, pick out a memorable moment, tell you their biggest need and let you know when the club might be good again.
Sorry, Boston Red Sox, but you won’t sit on the Iron Throne this season.
You made a valiant effort for another World Series trophy. Trading for Chris Sale proved to be a tremendous move, while midseason trades for Addison Reed and Eduardo Nunez strengthened the club down the stretch.
You did exactly what everyone expected by making the playoffs, but fell short after running into a better team.
While that was a disappointment, the Red Sox know they’ll be back in 2018. The team is too strong, and deep, to simply fall off. They have the resources to make a splash in free agency, and general manager Dave Dombrowski has never shied away from making a huge deal.
After faltering in the postseason in 2017, it would be a surprise if the Red Sox didn’t come back stronger in 2018.
Let’s take a deeper look at the year that was in Boston:
UNBOWED, UNBENT, UNBROKEN (aka WHAT WENT RIGHT)
The Red Sox gave up a lot, but it was worth it to land Chris Sale. Even though his first postseason didn’t go so well, they may not have been there without him. The continued development of Andrew Benintendi was encouraging as well. There were ups and downs along the way, but his hot streaks were sizzling. He’ll remain a fixture atop their lineup. The Red Sox may have finally solved their third base problem too. After Pablo Sandoval bombed out, 20-year-old rookie Rafael Devers put up solid numbers and even delivered a pair of home runs in the postseason. (Mark Townsend)
THE RED WEDDING (aka WHAT WENT WRONG)
The Red Sox ran into a buzzsaw in the Houston Astros. They appeared overmatched in every area during the ALDS, which obviously won’t be acceptable to their fans. Not surprisingly, Boston was unable to replace the production lost when David Ortiz retired. Though the offense finished top ten in runs scored, it missed Ortiz’s energy and flair for the dramatic. The Red Sox also finished with the fourth fewest home runs in MLB in 168. It all added up to a team that was very good, yet very much flawed. (Townsend)
THE NORTH REMEMBERS (aka MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT)
It’s not exactly a positive moment, but the Apple Watch scandal stands out as the most memorable part of the Red Sox’s season. A team trainer was found to have used an Apple Watch to relay signs to the team while they were playing the Yankees. The Yankees, predictably, were not happy about this, and reported it to the league. The Red Sox were handed an undisclosed fine for the infraction. It didn’t impact the team’s record, and it didn’t help much against the Yankees, so you have to wonder whether it was worth it in the end. (Chris Cwik)
WORDS ARE WIND (aka MOST IMPORTANT THING TO FIX)
Despite their AL East crown and playoff appearance, 2017 wasn’t an easy year for the Red Sox. 33-year-old Dustin Pedroia was their best and most dependable hitter, which means several of the team’s young players underperformed. While guys like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts could (and probably will) bounce back, the Red Sox need to bolster their offense. (Especially since they play the homer-happy Yankees 19 times a year.) There aren’t a lot of big bats on the free agent market, but there are a few, and the Red Sox need to go after them. Jay Bruce, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, the Red Sox could find room for any of those guys. If they hope to make another run at the playoffs next year, they have to make offense a priority. (Liz Roscher)
A DREAM OF SPRING (aka HOPE FOR THE FUTURE)
There’s a little bit of a lull in the team’s farm system currently. Third baseman Michael Chavis and first baseman Sam Travis could see significant playing time next season, but the team’s other prospects may need a year or two.
The club’s No. 1 overall prospect, pitcher Jay Groome, peaked at Class A this season and pitcher Tanner Houck was drafted in 2017.
This is fine, of course, because many of the former stars from the farm system are up and producing now. As long as Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers and company continue to grow, the Red Sox will be just fine.
Farm system additions will be a little more spread out over the next few seasons, but should help the team provided Dombrowski doesn’t trade them all away for more immediate help. Either way, they’ll be in good shape next season. (Cwik)
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