The Boston Red Sox have done a tremendous job building strength at the plate as they hope to obtain a successful 2015. Though Opening Day is still a while away, manager John Farrell already has an idea of who will lead his team’s campaign for postseason glory.
Farrell appeared on WEEI Thursday night and laid out his plan:
That’s right, no Rusney Castillo in the leadoff spot and Ramirez is the new cleanup man. Farrell has placed a good amount of confidence in Betts, believing that Brock Holt could take over at number one if needed. He had this to say about Betts, Holt and Castillo:
"“What Mookie showed in the time that he was in the leadoff spot was very encouraging,” Farrell said. “His on-base skills have been consistent at every level through the minor leagues. It was the same when he came to Boston. Brock Holt is another guy that could fit into that spot when he is in the lineup on a given day. I think in Castillo’s case — while he shows you that ability to steal a base, he has some, I think very good gap power and he swung the bat good for us in the 10 games that he played — I think it is probably best that we bring him along maybe a little bit along the way. Maybe give him some at-bats, whether that is in the bottom third of the order, not to pin him into that spot, but I think that is the best way to acclimate him as we go forward.”"
Big Papi is getting older, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Sox prepping Ramirez to fill some very big shoes in the Boston lineup. Ortiz will be 39 in the 2015 season and while he was still a productive hitter last year, he posted his worst OPS since 2009.
Ortiz was most successful hitter in earlier years when he had Manny Ramirez to follow him up. Papi took nearly every at-bat in the number three spot ahead of Ramirez from 2004 to 2007 as he hit .304 with a .408 OBP and posted the three highest home runs totals of his career in the first three of those years.
Hanley is set to have a similar relationship with Ortiz to what Manny had, and Boston is hoping that it will revitalize their aging slugger for a couple more seasons. Hanley Ramirez has a career .300/.373/.500 slash line and has the offensive prowess to make him the next Ramirez to develop into a formidable pairing with Big Papi.
The remainder of the top six in the Red Sox’ lineup has less to do with talent than it does platoon splits. Napoli has posted better numbers at the plate than Sandoval in recent years, but Farrell is dead set on having the switch-hitting Sandoval at number five to break up the righty-hitting Ramirez and Napoli.
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Following up at 7-8-9 in the Boston Red Sox’ order would most likely be Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo, and the starting catcher. Shane Victorino and Castillo could even be battling for the number eight spot in the lineup, and we haven’t even mentioned Allen Craig yet. Though the beginning of the Red Sox’ order is set, there are competitions and trades that need to take place before we have the full picture.
This whole discussion, though, brings up a question: why is John Farrell showing the Boston Red Sox’ hand in regards to their lineup? The answer: Farrell had to send a memo to Red Sox fans and the other 29 teams to remind them to watch out for his franchise in 2015. Farrell is confident that the silence produced by the 2014 offense is soon to be broken by the cracking of some very big bats.