Yesterday, after the acquisition of Chris Sale, Mitch Moreland and Tyler Thornburg, Yankees GM Brian Cashman came out and said the Boston Red Sox the Golden State Warriors of the baseball world. Simply put, Cashman, as well as many others, I presume, look at the Red Sox as a super team.
But are they really?
As currently consituted, the Red Sox are the best team in the American League. A starting rotation of Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price, Steven Wright and Eduardro Rodriguez has the potential to threaten the likes of Cleveland and Chicago for the title of best starting five in all of baseball.
While the term "ace" is thrown around quite frequently, in my opinion, there are only a few true aces in all of baseball. Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and Chris Sale are the only pitchers I would label as a bonafide ace of a pitching staff. Sure, there are #1 pitchers, like Jon Lester, Cole Hamels and Justin Verlander, but an ace takes the ball every fifth day and dominates, regardless of the situation. The Red Sox now have one of those guys.
Furthermore, that takes the stress off of the likes of David Price, Rick Porcello, and everyone else on the Red Sox' pitching staff. For Porcello, the Red Sox will not have lofty expectations for him to repeat his 2016 Cy Young season. Similarly, David Price will not be looked upon as an ace, but rather a secondary guy in the rotation after the Red Sox foolishly paid him to be simply something he is not. Chris Sale now being the head of this pitching staff has a ripple effect on every other pitching on this squad.
In the bullpen, we have seen the Red Sox slowly but surely put together a formidable group of players. With the addition of Tyler Thornburg and the expected return of Carson Smith at some point next season, Craig Kimbrel can be used solely in the ninth inning. Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara, while good in the past, are being replaced with power pitchers that have swing-and-miss stuff, which is the way baseball is trending. I would like to see Boston add one more arm in the bullpen, which may be acquired by trading one of the extra starting pitchers (Clay Buchholz, Drew Pomeranz, among others) the Red Sox are lucky enough to have.
Now, things get a bit more interesting and the Red Sox may lose their title as a "super team" when discussing their positional players. The outfield looks set, as Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi may make up the best outfielding trio in all of baseball. Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts will be flipping double plays to each other for years to come, but the corner infield positions are question marks. A combination of MItch Moreland, Hanley Ramirez, Brock Holt, and Pablo Sandoval leaves me a bit concerned. Moreland and Ramirez will split time between designated hitter and first base and, while they will not be able to replace David Ortiz, they should be relatively average compared to the rest of the league.
The biggest question mark is third base, which looks to be Pablo Sandoval's job to lose as the Winter Meetings conclude. Up until yesterday, the plan was to have a platoon of Travis Shaw and Sandoval at third until #1 prospect Yoan Moncada was ready to see big league pitching. Well, Shaw is now dawning a Milwaukee Brewers jersey and Yoan Moncada is headed to Chicago.
I don't want to make a big deal about this, because I think Pablo Sandoval can have a solid bounce-back season. However, this is the difference between me calling the Red Sox a super team and just a World Series contender for right now.