Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Top Five Question Marks For The 2016 Red Sox

As players start streaming into camp, it's time to put aside all the hype and lay out the Top Five big questions about the 2016 Carmine Hose. They are (in no particular order):

Will Rick Porcello live up to his potential (and his contract) and truly be an effective starter? For $82.5 million, the Red Sox should get a lot better than 9-15 and a 4.92 ERA. If Porcello can slot into the number two or three slot behind David Price, it would dramatically transform the rotation into one of the best in the league. Without him being effective, there are too many other "iffy" holes;

Will we get the Dustin Pedroia of old, or could this be the beginning of the end? This question is very hard to ask, since Pedroia has always been one of our favorite all-time Red Sox players. Obviously, the drive will always be there—the real question is whether his body will keep pace with the drive;

Just how good or bad will the "Old Dust Twins" be (Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval)? Of particular concern in Hanley's transition to first base. If it's just "OK", that's probably fine—if it's a complete meltdown, then it will impact both pitching and defense. The Panda just needs to hit his weight (pun intended);

Are 'The Kids Alright'—will Mookie, Xander, JBJ, Eduardo et. al. become elite contributors? All indications are that the core of young Red Sox players will continue to improve—but one or two may falter. If those two are Mookie and Xander, this team will not contend;

Ultimately, who will don the "Tools Of Ignorance"—Blake Swihart or Christian Vazquez? Sooner or later (likely sooner), the Red Sox will have to designate one of their solid young catchers as the "Alpha Dog" behind the plate. Vazquez claims he is fully rehabbed and ready to go now, Swihart showed last year that he is for real both offensively and defensively;

There you have it—five key questions that need to be answered the right way if the Sox are going to truly contend this year.