Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Red Sox Roster Has Undergone Vast Changes Since 2013 World Series Winner

Considering that the 2014 Red Sox went 71-91, we all knew that big changes were in store.

This offseason, Boston has added a number of new players, including Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, and Rick Porcello.

At last season's trade deadline, the Red Sox added Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. Mookie Betts was called up at mid-season, and Cuban Rusney Castillo debuted with the Sox in September.

Gone from last year's club are Chris Capuano, Mike Carp, Rubby De La Rosa, Felix Doubront, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Will Middlebrooks, Andrew Miller, Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski, and David Ross, among others.

In short, the 2015 Red Sox will look quite different from the group that broke camp last spring. Yet, this is almost an entirely different team than the one that won the World Series just 15 months ago.

In that time, the Boston roster has been almost completely overhauled. The scope of the makeover is rather stunning for a team that won it all so recently.

To follow is a look at all of the players from the 2013 Red Sox who are no longer with the team:

Alfredo Aceves
Andrew Bailey
Daniel Bard
Pedro Beato
Jose De La Torre
Ryan Dempster
Felix Doubront
Joel Hanrahan
John Lackey
Jon Lester
Andrew Miller
Franklin Morales
Clay Mortensen
Jake Peavy
Matt Thornton
(There are even more, but they were bit players: Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villarreal, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson)

Ryan Lavarnway
David Ross
Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Mike Carp
Pedro Ciriaco
Stephen Drew
Jose Iglesias
Josh McDonald
Will Middlebrooks
Brandon Snyder

Quintin Berry
Jacoby Ellsbury
Jonny Gomes

If you weren't counting, that's 28 players who were on the roster just over a year ago and are now elsewhere.

So, what will the Boston roster look like on Opening Day 2015?

It's safe to assume that the Red Sox will carry the customary 12 pitchers: five starters and seven relievers.

Barring another trade or free agent signing, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson will comprise the rotation.

Craig Breslow (L), Tommy Layne (L), Edward Mujica (R), Junichi Tazawa (R), Koji Uehara (R), and Anthony Vavaro (R) will likely constitute six of the seven bullpen spots. Drake Britton (L), Zeke Spruill (R), and Brandon Workman (R) will probably compete for the final spot.

Consequently, the Sox will also likely carry the customary 13 position players. The starting lineup appears set.

Manager John Farrell has indicated that Mookie Betts will probably bat leadoff this season, followed by Dustin Pedroia in the second spot. Newcomers Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval will likely to slot into the heart of the batting order.

Farrell says he likes the idea of left-right balance in the middle of the order, with lefty David Ortiz batting third, followed by Ramirez (right-handed), Sandoval (switch-hitter) and Mike Napoli (righty).

Rusney Castillo, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez will likely bat in the last three spots.

But the batting order accounts for just nine players, who will get the bulk of the playing time. At least one bench role remains unclear.

The trade of Yoenis Cespedes helped to clear an outfield logjam, but there are still at least six outfielders vying for five spots. Assuming that Jackie Bradley starts the season in Pawtucket, another outfielder still needs to be moved (Allen Craig?). The Sox currently have Ramirez, Castillo, Betts, Victorino, Craig and Daniel Nava (six players) contending for five outfield spots.

Here's a look at the projected lineup:

DH David Ortiz

C Christian Vazquez, plus backup Ryan Hanigan
1B Mike Napoli
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Pedro Sandoval
SS Xander Bogaerts
Utility Brock Holt

RF Shane Victorino / Mookie Betts
CF Rusney Castillo
LF Hanley Ramirez
OF/1B Daniel Nava / Allen Craig

That amounts to 14 players for 13 available roster spots.

Something has to give. The Sox will likely allow Craig and Victorino to showcase their talents for other teams during spring training, allowing the veterans to prove that they are both healthy and productive. Each player could be in line for a big bounce back season. The Sox could get more value by holding onto them for another couple of months and letting their values rise.

There is no rush to make a move. Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Meyers on February 21, while position players report on the 25th. Boston opens the regular season on April 6 in Philadelphia.

So, unless Ben Cherington has a plan for a No. 1 starter, the only real questions at this point are the seventh bullpen spot and the fifth outfield spot.

One way or the other, the Red Sox 2015 roster will be quite different from a year ago, and wildly different from the squad that shocked the baseball world in October 2013.

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