Will Hanley And Panda Cripple Otherwise Good Red Sox?
There is a haunting "Ghost Of Christmas Past" issue facing the 2016 Red Sox. Sure, they have significantly upgraded their starting rotation (David Price), bullpen (Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith) and outfield depth (Chris Young), but their corner infield positions are a disaster waiting to happen. Hanley Ramirez will try to play first base for the first time in his career, and Pablo Sandoval will try to recover from a dismal 2015 in the field and at the plate. Ramriez will be 32 and Sandoval will be 29—so there is a chance they could both rebound with years that more closely match their norm. But, are you confident? The Panda turned in the worst batting average, OBP and OPS of his career last year (.245/.292/.658). Ramirez played in just 105 games and—after one hot month—ended up with just 19 home runs, while hitting .249. If their defense is as porous as we expect, it could negate a big part of the improved pitching staff. They are the twin Achilles heels of this ballclub. Hold your breath!