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Photo Credit: coreman1017

The Bad Guys: Getting To Know The 2017 Boston “Best Team Ever” Red Sox

It’s been decided already. The Boston Red Sox are American League East Division Champions. Maybe the Cubs will beat them in the World Series, maybe not. There doesn’t even need to be a season, this team is so good that there’s simply no way they won’t win the American League pennant. That’s pretty much been the sentiment coming out of Boston, as Mass-holes have already anointed themselves World Champs in a manner that makes Yankee fans look modest and reasonable. And the mainstream baseball media has fuelled the fire, of course, because on paper, this Red Sox team is damn good. There’s no disputing that. They were fantastic last year, and got better this winter. But I can vaguely remember a team a few years ago, one with names like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, that was labelled The Best Red Sox team everthat fell flat on its face. There’s a reason the 2,430 games in a Major League Baseball season are actually played, friends.

Starting rotation:

For the second winter in a row, the Red Sox went out and acquired the best pitcher on the market. Last year, it cost them $217,000,000. This year, it cost them the best prospect in baseball, Yoan Moncada. But that’s a fair price to pay for a pitcher like Chris Sale, who has been the one bright light on an otherwise putrid White Sox team for the past seven years. In Chicago, Sale’s intense personality and borderline lunacy was kind of an issue, but it’ll be welcomed in Boston, where fans are really into that kind of thing.

Sale will be this Red Sox team’s ace, though he wasn’t named Opening Day starter. That honour was given to Rick Porcello, last year’s Cy Young winner. Sale, Porcello, and David Price are Boston’s big three, but Price will begin the season on the 10-day disabled list due to a sore elbow. It isn’t ideal, but Price and the Red Sox avoided disaster, as it was expected the veteran lefty was going to have to have Tommy John surgery.

The Red Sox can afford to let Price ease his way back into action this year, unlike last, because they actually have some pitching depth. Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz, and Steven Wright round out the back-end of Boston’s rotation, and while the former two of that group have some injury concerns, the Sox even have old man Kyle Kendrick kicking around in Triple-A as insurance.

On paper and healthy, this rotation is very good. With Price injured, it’s still strong, but there are some question marks. Sale’s arm looks like it could explode at any given time, Porcello’s 2016 season was far and away the best of his career and his 223 inning pitched was a career-high by a mile, Rodriguez has never been consistently good at the Major League level, and Pomeranz was hit hard after being acquired from San Diego. If Price doesn’t come back as quickly as possible, this rotation has the potential to flip on its head.

Bullpen:

The bullpen looks a lot different than what we’re used to. Both Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara, a couple of mainstays in the Sox ‘pen the past few seasons left the team in free agency. Craig Kimbrel is the team’s closer again. He was dominant for years in Atlanta, but hasn’t been quite as automatic in his two seasons in San Diego and Boston. Though, I’m not going to go ahead and say that somebody who converted 31 of 33 saves with a 14.1 strikeout per nine rate is some kind of enigma, or anything.

Beyond him, it starts to get pretty questionable. Tyler Thornburg, acquired from Milwaukee last winter, and Carson Smith are figured to be the seventh and eighth inning guys, but both will begin the season on the disabled list. So, for the first little white, the Sox are going to have to navigate their way to Kimbrel with the usual mediocre suspects, Robbie Ross Jr., Heath Hembree, and Joe Kelly.

It simply wouldn’t be a Dave Dombroski team if it didn’t have a questionable bullpen. That’s his stamp.

Lineup:

It’s time to start living life without David Ortiz.

For the first time in over a decade, Big Papi won’t be suiting up in the middle of the Red Sox lineup, crushing dingers and staring down opposing pitchers with that swagger that made him lovable and hatable at the same time. Replacing him will be… Uhhhh, Mitch Moreland? Well, not actually, but it’s kind of funny that after a year of Edwin Encarnacion being rumoured to be the one to be the heir to Ortiz’s throne, they go out and sign Mediocre As It Gets Moreland.

But really, if there’s any team that can handle the loss of a perennial 40 home run, .900+ OPS hitter, it’s the Red Sox. Sure, there’s all the (very deserved!) folklore attached to Ortiz, his “this is our fucking city,” his leadership, and his ability to come up with clutch dongs when it mattered most, but this lineup is loaded. Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, and Mookie Betts are all sure bets to put up big numbers, while Andrew Benintendi is poised for a breakout season. Jackie Bradley, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, and even the n0w-much-thinner Pablo Sandoval can also chip in, but honestly don’t even really need to for this group to be good.

Still, though, it’ll be weird not having Ortiz coming up to the plate in every ninth inning, close situation as he always seemed to. But whoever steps up and picks up the slack — Hanley? — can enshrine themselves in Red Sock folklore legacy forever.

Why you should hate them:

Red Sox Nation. Holy fuck.

Red Sox fans are, far an away, the most obnoxious in baseball. Maybe even North American professional sports. They went from being the endearing, lovable loser, blue-collar, fans of a team that hasn’t won in half-a-century that suffered through Bill Buckner’s error and The Curse of The Bambino, all the way to what they are now. Which is this absurd, cocky, negative, angry, loud, group with a strange complex of being better than you but still being an underdog that fills up opposing stadiums and just makes noise for the sake of letting everybody know that they’re there.

They boo your players, they boo their own players, they yell about how much your team sucks, they yell about your mom and you sister, they yell about how great their players are, they yell about how awful their players are, they phone into local radio stations with absurd conspiracy theories, and they seem to enjoy watching other teams lose even more than they enjoy watching their own teams win. Hell, just ask our old pal David Price, who says he heard racist taunts from Red Sox fans at Fenway. And hell, if the Sox have a bad season, they’ll start bragging about the Patriots, like it matters, or Tom Brady in general, or Harvard, or Dunkin’ Donuts, or Manny Ramirez’s awesome performance in 2004, or Mark Wahlberg, or how historic and important Fenway is, or something. They’ll find something to be obnoxious about.

Then, of course, there’s John Farrell, who half-ass managed the Blue Jays for two seasons before quitting in order to take his dream job in Boston. He’s not even a good manager, but somehow inexplicably bullshitted his way to a 2013 World Series on the backs of, uhhhhh, Daniel Nava, and Shane Victorino, which made absolutely zero sense. Fuck, I miss the days when the Sox were terrible.

Sort of objective prediction:

Their fans suck, obviously, but it’s hard not to be obnoxious when your team is as good as this one is, and you’ve seen as much success as the Red Sox have in the past decade. I mean, are we any different? Do you own some piece of Jose Bautista bat flip merchandise? Have you ever told anybody making fun of you for getting a big dick over winning the ALDS twice to fuck off because “we deserve it for suffering for so long”? Sure you have!

Anyways, fuck the Sox. They’re good, and they’re more than likely going to club their way to the division and a deep playoff run. But hey, who knows. Their bullpen is ass, their starters don’t look that great without David Price healthy, and maaaaaaybe the team will struggle through adversity without team daddy around anymore to calm them down? Who knows!

  • Player to Be Named Later

    Yeah, the rotation doesn;t scare me as much as it did 2 months ago. They could have serious problems with Price and Pomeranz. And if they do, giddy up. And even if they’re relatively healthy, they could be rolling out 4 left-handers. I’ll take my chances with that if I’m the Jays. (And honestly, I’d take the Jays’ rotation right now. Straight up.)

  • Denizen

    Must correct an error in this story. You say Red Sox fans went from being endearing and lovable (among other falsehoods) – when the way they are now is the way they’ve always been.