In the long illustrious history of the Boston Red Sox, the 2020 season will barely register as a blip in the grand scheme of things. Sure, before that Sox fans don't need to be reminded that their World Series winning manager, Alex Cora, was suspended for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal when he was their bench coach in 2017.
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Ron Reineke was hired in the aftermath becoming a one-and-done faster than a college basketball freshman when the Sox finished in last place in the pandemic shortened season. Mookie Betts of course left for LA, along with David Price and the Dodgers promptly won the 2020 World Series. It's all things that Beantown will eagerly like to forget. Here's a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series story from a Boston legend to brighten your spirits.
But there has been hope during the offseason. Cora was hired back after serving his year-long suspension. He won a championship for a reason by creating a great clubhouse environment without allegations of sign stealing in 2018. Besides, maybe the best thing about this upcoming season is that this rotation won't be completely terrible like last year. They had a 5.58 team ERA which ranked 14th out of 15 American League teams.
Their most promising pitcher coming into last season was Eduardo Rodríguez who went 19–6 with 3.81 ERA in 2019. Last year he contracted COVID-19 before the season and then was diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart condition that was likely a result of contracting the virus. He thus sat out the season to recover. All indications are that he is healthy and prepared to be a large contributor to this rotation.
Chris Sale didn't pitch last season either after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He was a huge reason they won in all in '18. He was placed on the 60-Day IL still recovering from the surgery last month, but if the Red Sox are able to get him back for a run after the All-Star break, that might be all the momentum they need to compete in the stacked AL East. Stephen Strasburg has had a similar career trajectory as Sale and he won a World Series after his Tommy John surgery and was prioritized in free agency for the Nationals over fellow superstar Bryce Harper. There is precedent for Sale to still pitch effectively even if he can't fully get back to his peak.
As for position players, the Red Sox are still lethal without Betts and now without Jackie Bradley signing with the Brewers. They still have Xander Bogaerts holding it down as one of the game's best shortstops. Kike Hernandez came over in free agency this offseason and now that Dustin Pedroia is officially retired, this is the best opportunity Sox have had at finding his true replacement. J.D. Martinez was absolutely awful last year but he has a good point being "tired of being judged on two months." This guy was a revelation for the Sox in '18 and '19 becoming an All-Star in both years. He's going to rake especially with the normal flow of a full-season.
Potentially the most exciting player though will be first baseman Bobby Dalbec. Think of this guy as the next Pete Alonso on the Mets. This guy crushes bombs and has great potential for Rookie of the Year. He already has five homers with two grand slams this spring. He's primarily played third base but if he can make the switch to first seamlessly, he might be the Sox's best player at the position since Kevin Youkilis who made a similar transition from third. Besides, if they get off to a slow start, they'll always be in the position to add impactful free agents. The Sox aren't going anywhere.