After the conclusion of the 2012 season, I felt pretty good about the Red Sox. I asked the question at the time, what did the 2012 Giants, the World Series winners, have that the Red Sox didn’t? Neither team had a true ace. Each team had some good hitters, and clutch playoff performers. As it turned out, there wasn’t much difference since the Sox went on to win the World Series the very next season.
Which brings us to today.
What do the Royals have that the Red Sox don’t?
One answer I’m sure that will come screaming from people’s mouths is Johnny Cueto. The Sox need an ace! See!?! The problem is, Cueto wasn’t really an ace for the Royals during the regular season. After all, he went 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA for Kansas City. I’m guessing the Sox have someone who can do that currently on their roster. Sure, he was an ace in the playoffs. But, do we know anyone on the Sox won’t be a playoff ace? Jon Lester was laughed at when he asked what he needed to do to be considered and ace…then went out and dominated that postseason. So, the Sox could use a starter that pitches well in the postseason. They may or may not have one of those at the moment. We’ll never know. As we just discussed, even if they sign David Price, they won’t know. They won’t know until they try it.
Beyond that? The Sox have some aggressive baserunners. Maybe not stupid enough to break for home with a World Series game on the line and just hope for the worst throw possible. But, Mookie and Pedroia can go first to third with the best of them. They have good defense. You want defense up the middle? Try Vazquez, Bogaerts, Pedroia, and Bradley Jr/Mookie. The Royals had a pretty good DH. A lumbering presence in the middle of the line-up. The Red Sox…well, you know.
The Royals starting pitchers didn’t go very deep into games. The Red Sox have some experience in that area.
Really, the one thing is the bullpen. It’s really the one this that set the 2015 Royals away from the Sox as well. So, it’s the one area they really need to catch up on.
Problem is (or, the good thing is?) bullpens are incredibly hard to predict. For the most part, relievers are in the bullpen because they’re not good enough to be anywhere else. Especially middle relief. So, to find a pen that you can rely on going into the season to get you three innings a game can be tricky. Even if you decided that instead of signing one ace starter, you’re going to sign the two or three best bullpen arms. There is absolutely no guarantee that last year’s top arms will be next year’s top arms. So, the bad thing is that the Sox really can’t just throw money at the problem. Nobody knows where to throw it. But, the good news is that they could very well throw short money at a middle reliever to be the fourth option at closer, and that guy could become the most dominating closer since Eckersley.
Obviously, they shouldn’t just sign four random guys and hope. That’s almost what they did with the rotation this year, and none of it worked. But, if they go after some solid guys, and use them correctly, that’s not a bad plan at all.
There’s no reason why the Sox can’t be right back at the top next season.