Curt Schilling not hiding his scars

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Curt Schilling owned October.

When you win three World Series rings and submit an 11-2 postseason record with a 2.23 ERA, you prefer to stick with what works.

In Schilling's case, after the 2001 championship with the Arizona Diamondbacks, after his bloody sock elevated him to hallowed status in Red Sox lore in 2004, after he padded his Boston résumé with another ring in 2007, his pattern didn't waver. Shut 'em down, head for the dugout and reap his reward: a dip of smokeless tobacco.

"I never ever threw a pitch with a dip in my mouth," Schilling said. "I knew it wasn't good for you. I didn't want to be dehydrated.

"But if you go back and look, after every single game I pitched, the first thing I did when I got to the dugout was put one in.

"I didn't wait. I couldn't wait."

With October in full swing, Schilling is back on the World Series stage, this time as a commentator for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight." Outwardly, the changes in the former pitcher are subtle; he's thinner, a little wan, and the tenor of his voice, while still resonating with strong analysis and opinions, doesn't quite project with the same force.

"I'm lucky on so many levels," he said. "I look pretty much the same. It could have been so much worse."

In February, Schilling was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a direct result, he said, of his 30-year dipping habit. The cancer originated in his tonsil and spread to a lymph node in his neck.


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Chili Davis to coach Red Sox hitters

October, 23, 2014
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The Boston Red Sox announced Thursday the hiring of Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell made the announcement.

Davis served as hitting coach for the Oakland Athletics for the past three seasons. He rejoins the organization after serving as hitting coach for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011.

"The biggest deciding factor was that I had been in the organization," Davis said in a conference call with reporters. "I had worked in the organization in 2011 so I am somewhat familiar with the personnel in the organization. They gave me the first opportunity to actually do day-in, day-out coaching for a full year. I loved the time I spent in Pawtucket and the people I was around. It was an opportunity to come back and be around them again."

Davis replaces Greg Colbrunn, who had a serious health scare earlier this season and chose not to return for the 2015 season. Colbrunn cited a desire to spend more time with his family as a reason he elected not to return next season.

Boston went from having the majors' most prolific offense in 2013 -- Colbrunn's first season as a big league hitting coach -- to having one of the worst in 2014. The Red Sox finished tied for 12th in runs scored with 634. They were 14th in slugging percentage (.369), 12th in home runs (123), eighth in on-base percentage (.316) and 14th in OPS+ (92), which is on-base plus slugging adjusted to a team's home park.

However, Davis feels the talent is already in place for the team to improve upon those numbers immediately.


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Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr., Yoenis CespedesUSA TODAY Sports
Finalists for the Gold Glove Awards were announced Thursday, and the Boston Red Sox have three contenders: Dustin Pedroia at second base, Yoenis Cespedes in left field and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field.

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Which second baseman should win the American League Gold Glove Award?

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Discuss (Total votes: 2,173)

Pedroia is vying for his second straight and fourth Gold Glove overall at second base, having also claimed the honor in 2008, 2011 and 2013. His competition this year includes the Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano, who won two Gold Gloves while playing for the New York Yankees, as well as the Detroit Tigers' Ian Kinsler.

Left fielder Cespedes came over the Red Sox from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline. He led the major leagues with 16 outfield assists. Cespedes is seeking his first Gold Glove. The other left-field finalists are the Cleveland Indians' Michael Brantley and the Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon, the three-time defending Gold Glove winner.

Bradley struggled at the plate this season, but played exceptional defense in center field. He looked like a strong contender for the Gold Glove for much of the year, but a demotion to Triple-A in late August may have hurt his chances. Red Sox manager John Farrell can't vote for his own player, but he thinks Bradley is deserving despite his stint in the minors.

"As someone who votes on those, I don't know how others might look at the break in service time," Farrell said on Sept. 7. "He'd get my vote from what we've seen."

Bradley's 13 assists were tops among major league center fielders and tied for third overall, and he posted a league-leading eight double plays, five more than any other outfielder. For the Gold Glove, he is up against Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox and three-time winner Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles.

Edes' 2004 top moments: ALCS Games 4-5

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
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BOSTON -- A moment? Ha. I can't crystallize 2004 into a single moment, any more than a historian could summarize the French Revolution by one swoosh of the guillotine.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz
AP Photo/Amy SancettaDavid Ortiz celebrates his 14th-inning, game-winning single in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS, less than 22 hours after he won Game 4 with a 12th-inning home run.
But for the purposes of this exercise, I can narrow it down to 10 hours and 51 minutes, the time it took for the Red Sox to black out the first syllable of impossible as deftly as those graffiti artists transformed the "reverse curve" sign on Storrow Drive into "Reverse the Curse."

On Oct. 18, 2004, at 1:22 a.m., David Ortiz beat the Yankees with a 12th-inning home run. Before another page could be torn off the calendar, at 11 p.m., Ortiz did it again, beating the Yankees with a 14th-inning single. This was the equivalent of Carlton Fisk hitting the foul pole squared, and so much more.

Fisk's home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series bought one more game in what many have regarded as the greatest World Series ever played, but there was no shame in losing to the Big Red Machine. The respect of a franchise was not at stake; that battle already had been won.

The '04 Sox, however, with memories still fresh of 2003's shattering Game 7 defeat to the Yankees, were on the brink of humiliation, having lost three straight to the Bombers, including a 19-8 beatdown in Fenway Park in Game 3. The weight of history had seldom felt as crushing, or fatalism as fashionable. The call of "wait 'til next year" had a rapidly approaching expiration date, soon to make way for "wait 'til next century."

That all changed in the span of 26 of the most gripping innings ever contested in the history of this or any other rivalry. As stand-alone games, each was epic; taken together, they became the Mahabharata.

Twenty-five times previously, a team had been down three games to none in postseason play. On 20 of those occasions, those series had ended in four-game sweeps. Only twice had the underdog forced a sixth game; no team had ever come back and run the table.

In the span of 10 hours and 51 minutes, the Red Sox turned probability on its head, regained their dignity, and rekindled the faith of their downtrodden fan base. They transformed what had seemed the hollow bravado of Kevin Millar before Game 4 ("Don't let us win this game") into prophecy worthy of Jeremiah, punctured the aura of Yankee invincibility, and became masters of a destiny they ultimately fulfilled in the heart of darkness, Yankee Stadium.

Now, wasn't that fun?

Facebook chat: Gordon Edes at 2 p.m.

October, 20, 2014
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Echoes of the '85 K.C. Royals

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
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Ned YostED ZURGA/GETTY IMAGESThe 2014 Royals respect manager Ned Yost as much as the 1985 Royals respected Dick Howser.

I was lookin up when it was a cool night in October

Darryl Motley caught

a lazy fly off Andy Van Slyke's bat

Kansas City delirious as champs

we poured champagne on sweat-soaked heads

it burned our eyes

we didn't care

we screamed we sang we laughed

drunk with victory


--"A Career," from On Days Like This, poems by Dan Quisenberry

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Long time, 29 years. The airport, a hub for TWA, is still there, but TWA isn't. The Huffington Post, which wasn't around in 1985, just declared Kansas City "the coolest city in America," which might have seemed laughable back then. The ballpark is the same but different -- the beautiful grass hill in center field fell to the scourge of revenue-producing seats.

The home clubhouse has been rearranged, with the pitchers now on the side of the room closest to the field. Dan Quisenberry, the Royals' submarining closer, has passed away, a victim of brain cancer at age 45 in 1998. So has the skipper, Dick Howser, who died of the same thing less than two years after he won the World Series. Ewing Kauffman, the owner who brought the Royals to Kansas City, is also gone.


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2004 Red Sox bracket breakdown

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
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In its sum, it was a postseason that begged the question, "Can you believe it?"

Against all odds, the 2004 Red Sox would become the first major league team to rally from a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series, beating the Yankees in an epic American League Championship Series on their way to their first World Series title since 1918.

Ten years later, ESPNBoston.com looks back to determine the moment from that magical run that stands out the most. Narrowed down to 16 moments presented in a bracket-style showdown that will last four rounds, you can vote to help us determine the most memorable moment of an unforgettable season.

Here are our top 16, along with predictions on how we see it playing out.


Title-Clinching Moment (1) vs. Sox Win Wild Card (8)

World Series Game 4 -- Foulke fields the final out: It was as if everything was aligned for the Red Sox to put an end to their string of 86 winless years. Quite literally. High above the sky that October night, a lunar eclipse was in full effect, the result of Earth perfectly aligning with the sun and the moon. Underneath a radiant red glow, the Red Sox took the field one win away from the championship. Nine innings later, closer Keith Foulke sealed the deal. A ground ball back to the mound, an underhand flip to Doug Mientkiewicz at first and the Red Sox finally were world champions. Catcher Jason Varitek jumped into the Foulke's arms and the entire team came onto the field to mob them at the center of the diamond. The curse was lifted. Indeed, it seems the stars were aligned for it to happen.


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Lou Lucier dies at 96

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
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BOSTON -- Lou Lucier, who was the oldest surviving former Red Sox player, has died at the age of 96.

The team says Lucier had a stroke earlier this month and died on Saturday.

A right-handed pitcher, Lucier played parts of three major league seasons during World War II with the Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. In all, he was 3-5 with a 3.81 ERA in 33 games.

A native of Northbridge, Massachusetts, he is survived by two daughters, five grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and one great-great granddaughter.

Lucier was 15 days older than Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, who is now the oldest living former Red Sox player.


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Edes' eavesdropping: Allen Craig's future

October, 18, 2014
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BOSTON -- Beyond introductions when he first arrived, I had not spoken with Boston Red Sox outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig, other than in a group, until the early September night in New York when he struck out four times against the Yankees.

He was on his way out when I stopped him in the middle of the clubhouse. He had every right to brush me off and might have been inclined to do so, but instead he hung in there for a few brief responses after what had to be one of his most disheartening nights in the big leagues.

[+] EnlargeAllen Craig
AP Photo/Steven SenneAllen Craig had a rough go of it in 2014, especially after he got traded to the Red Sox.
I thought of that night after the last game of the season, when I stopped by Craig's locker and asked if he was happy to close the book on 2014 -- by far the worst season of his career.

"I don't know if those are the right words for it," he said. "I didn't go into the year thinking it would be like this. Sometimes things just turn out not how you want them to, and you just have to deal with it. That's kind of where I'm at."

Based on his .128 average in 29 games played for the Sox after they acquired him and pitcher Joe Kelly in a deadline deal with St. Louis for John Lackey, Craig would seem to have a tenuous place at best in Boston's future plans.

But that would be ignore that Craig finished seventh in the National League batting race in 2012 with a .307 average, was eighth with a .315 average in 2013 and hit a remarkable .454 with runners in scoring position for a Cardinals team that went to the World Series in '13.

It also doesn't take into account that both the player and team insist the Lisfranc fracture in his left foot, which hobbled him this past fall and wrecked his offseason workout regimen the past winter, does not require further attention, or that Craig is signed to an extremely team-friendly contract that pays him $25.5 million over the next three years, with a club option of $13 million in 2018.

Maybe it's unclear now, with the Sox outfield as crowded as it is and first base and designated hitter both spoken for in 2015, but Craig might yet be regarded as something more than a poor return for Lackey. He is still only 30, and with Mike Napoli's ongoing health issues and David Ortiz turning 39, the Sox have reason to not dispose of Craig's bat too readily.

Craig has consistently refused to blame his foot injury for his subpar performance in '14, which started well before his arrival in Boston, as he batted just .237 in 97 games for the Cardinals. But it's a "huge positive," he said, that he won't have to address the foot medically this winter.

"I feel that this will be the first time in a little while I haven't had an offseason dealing with something," he said.

"I've been extremely lucky to be part of very good teams the last few years. I've had some injuries and battled and continued to battle this year. The numbers aren't where I would like them to be, obviously, but I know I'm a better player than that. I still know what I'm capable of, and [I'm] glad to have this offseason to do what I need to do.

"I've always been able to hit. I've been productive in my time in the big leagues and have gone deep into the playoffs. I definitely have that to fall back on. Every year is a new year. I learned a lot this year from my struggles and know what I have to do."

[+] EnlargePedro Martinez, David Ortiz
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesWill David Ortiz, set to try his hand at broadcasting, be able to match Pedro Martinez's gift for gab?
Pedro at the mike

The star of the 2014 postseason? That's easy, according to Matthew Leach on SportsonEarth.com, who said he'll miss Pedro Martinez on TBS now that the World Series is switching over to Fox Sports.

"Pedro is as good as it gets in the broadcast booth, much as he was as good as it gets on the mound," Leach raved. "As funny and honest as Charles Barkley, as insightful as Cris Collinsworth, as accomplished in his playing career as Shaquille O'Neal, Pedro is practically the perfect broadcaster.

"I would like to be as good at one thing in my life as Pedro is at his second career -- a career, by the way, which he practices in his second language. He is, simply, must-watch."

Possibly in hopes of something like that Martinez magic, FOX is adding David Ortiz to its Series coverage. Big Papi, who will be making his broadcast debut, will be on the pregame and postgame shows starting Tuesday night.

Ortiz with a live mike also invites some anticipation, as noted by @PollyfromBoston when she tweeted:


Plotting the future

Don't miss Kiley McDaniel's exhaustive and illuminating breakdown of the Sox farm system on FanGraphs. McDaniel ranks left-hander Edwin Rodriguez as the second best prospect in the system, which might ease the sting for Sox fans lamenting the departure of Andrew Miller, given his phenomenal postseason run with the Orioles. Rodriguez was the pitcher the Sox received from Baltimore in exchange for Miller.

McDaniel writes of Rodriguez:

"Rodriguez was a projection lefty with inconsistent but above average stuff his whole career; he sat 90-93 and would hit 95 mph with a slider and changeup that would both flash above average at times. A couple months into the season, the projectable lefty's velocity spiked, sitting 93-96 mph with his slider and changeup both flashing plus. The slider and changeup never flashed plus in the same game, but the changeup got higher peak grades (one scout put a 70 on it), so both of those pitch grades could be conservative."

Adds FanGraphs editor Dave Cameron: "The Red Sox have been on a roller coaster over the last few years, sandwiching two last-place finishes around a World Series title. From here, though, 2015 looks like it should bring a strong rebound, as the team has positioned themselves to be hyper-aggressive in player acquisition this winter. Their significant financial resources, combined with an enviable depth of valuable trade chips, give the Red Sox the ability to add multiple impact pieces this winter.

"With most of the roster projecting to improve on mediocre 2014 performances, adding in a few more established stars should be enough to return the Red Sox to the top of the hill, and as long as they don't overreact to the struggles of a few key young players, they should maintain a strong base of talent to build around for the foreseeable future."

Chili Davis close to Red Sox deal

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
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The Boston Red Sox are on the verge of a deal with Chili Davis to be their hitting coach, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

Davis, who was the hitting coach for the Oakland Athletics during the past three seasons, interviewed on Friday.

A source told ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes that Davis and the Red Sox have reached an agreement pending an official announcement.

Davis would replace Greg Colbrunn, who had a serious health scare earlier this season and chose not to return for the 2015 season. Colbrunn cited a desire to spend more time with his family -- he has two teenage daughters -- as a reason he elected not to return next season.

Boston went from having the majors' most prolific offense in 2013 -- Colbrunn's first season as a big league hitting coach -- to having one of the worst in 2014. The Red Sox finished tied for 12th in runs scored with 634. They were 14th in slugging percentage (.369), 12th in home runs (123), eighth in on-base percentage (.316) and 14th in OPS+ (92), which is on-base plus slugging adjusted to a team's home park.

ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes contributed to this report.


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10 years later: Relive 'Four Days in October'

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17
12:52
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We’ll have more goodies for you next week as we get closer to the 10-year anniversary of the storybook 2004 Red Sox championship, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t pause to recognize perhaps the most important date in that fairy tale run: Oct. 17, 2004 -- the night of Game 4 of the ALCS.

Exactly 10 years ago tonight, the Red Sox -- trailing three games to none -- rallied off Yankees legend Mariano Rivera to tie Game 4 and won it in the 12th inning on a walk-off homer by David Ortiz. The victory was the first of four straight for the Red Sox, who became the first team in baseball history to win a seven-game series after trailing three games to none.

Want to relive the best four days in Red Sox history? Of course you do.

We’ve reposted “Four Days in October,” the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that immortalizes those four historic games, in which were included The Steal, The Walk-Off, The Other Walk-Off, The Bloody Sock, The Slap, The Grand Slam and, finally, The Celebration In The Bronx.

Check out this 51-minute walk down memory lane and get goosebumps all over again.

Ortiz to serve as World Series TV analyst

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
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The Boston Red Sox endured a dismal first-to-worst campaign in 2014 after winning the World Series last season, but at least reigning World Series MVP David Ortiz will make a return appearance in the Fall Classic, albeit as a member of the media.

Ortiz will serve as a pregame and postgame guest analyst for Fox Sports' television broadcast at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium for Games 1 and 2 of the World Series, which is set to begin Tuesday.

"There is nothing more special than playing in the World Series and if I can't be in the batter's box, this is the next best place in the ballpark," Ortiz said in a press release.

Red Sox offseason primer: DH

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
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BOSTON -- The hard part is not coming to the plate four times a night. David Ortiz still can hit.

The hard part is coming soon, in the offseason, pushing himself one more time to do the work necessary to be the player he is. The disciplined diet. The training regimen that becomes more punishing the older he gets. The mental commitment to go all-in, at age 39, ignoring the temptations of the comforts that become more difficult to resist after 21 seasons of playing professional baseball, 18 in the big leagues.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz
AP Photo/Nick WassOrtiz has hinted that the 2015 season might be his last. But what if he hits 35 home runs again?
David Ortiz sees the end at hand. He is entering the last season of his contract, one that will expire just short of his 40th birthday. He has hinted that next season will be his last, then just as quickly added a rebuttal, saying he’ll let everyone know when his time has come.

Ortiz hit a team-leading 35 home runs last season, 34 of them coming while serving as Red Sox designated hitter. The last time he hit as many as 35 home runs was 2007, when he also hit 35. Only five players in the major leagues hit more home runs than Ortiz did in 2014.

He was lethal with runners in scoring position (a .922 OPS), even more so in high-leverage situations, when a hit might make the difference between winning and losing (1.057 OPS). He was intentionally walked 22 times, a total exceeded only by Victor Martinez and Giancarlo Stanton, testament to the peril he still represented to opposing pitchers, as well as the holes in the lineup around him.

Still, there were signs of slippage. After batting .300 or better in each of the last three seasons, Ortiz batted .263 overall, a drop of 46 percentage points from 2013. His .873 OPS was his lowest since coming to the Red Sox in 2003; the 11 home runs he hit in Fenway Park were the fewest he has ever hit in a season in Boston.
But in an era in which power has become a scarce commodity, the Sox still need Ortiz to anchor the middle of their lineup in 2015. They are surely plotting a future without him, but for the coming season, at least, he remains a vital piece.

Performance this season (major league rankings):
  • Batting average: .264, 3d
  • On-base percentage: .351, 2d
  • Slugging percentage: .511, 2d
  • Home runs: 38, 1st
  • Extra-base hits: 70, 1st
  • Walks: 77, 1st
  • Offensive WAR: 2.9, 4th
  • Wins Above Replacement: 3.0, 3d
Designated hitters used: 14
Offensive stats (5 games or more, as DH only):
David Ortiz 131 G, .269/.361/.529/.890, 34 HRs, 99 RBIs; Mike Napoli 7, .233/.303/.600/.903 3, 7; Yoenis Cespedes 6, .269/.269/.308/.577; A.J. Pierzynski 5, .200/.238/.350/.588 1, 3.

Potential free-agent signings: Sox won’t be targeting a DH in free agency.

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Will David Ortiz retire after the 2015 season?

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Discuss (Total votes: 3,100)

Potential trade targets: Sox won’t be looking for a DH in a trade.

Prospects in the system: Sox don’t groom players in the minor leagues with the intention of making them a DH.

Scout’s take: This might be Boston’s easiest decision. Plan on one more year of Ortiz hitting, and accept all the BS (talk about a new contract, etc.) that might come with it.

Red Sox offseason primer: Outfield

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
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Cespedes & Castillo & Betts USA TODAY SportsYoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts might end up as Boston's 2015 Opening Day outfielders, though a lot could change between now and then.
BOSTON -- How unsettled was the Boston Red Sox outfield last season? Manager John Farrell used nine left fielders, five center fielders and 10 right fielders.

The outfield Farrell envisioned he'd have to open the season -- Grady Sizemore in center, flanked by a platoon of Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes in left and Shane Victorino in right -- played exactly one game together, and that didn't come until late May.

Victorino blew out a hamstring in the last exhibition game of spring, ultimately had back surgery and played in just 30 games. Nava was sent down to Pawtucket after opening the season in a severe slump. Sizemore was overmatched by center field, his bat was slow to come around and ultimately was released.

Gomes was dealt at the trading deadline.

Jackie Bradley Jr., whose subpar performance in spring training had him ticketed to return to Pawtucket, instead was rushed to the big leagues and kept there, long after his bat proved incapable of hitting major league pitching even as he played peerless defense. The Sox traded for two outfielders, Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, spent $72.5 million on a Cuban import, Rusney Castillo, and gave long looks in the outfield to two converted infielders, Brock Holt and Mookie Betts.

[+] EnlargeVictorino
Brad Rempel/USA TODAY SportsWill Shane Victorino reclaim right field in 2015?
All those machinations mean that the Sox are certain to have a different look in the outfield by next spring, and the uncertainty invites all kinds of speculation about which direction the Sox will proceed. An early guess, based on the way the season ended, would be Castillo in center, with Cespedes in left and Betts in right, with Nava and Craig on the bench and Bradley back in Pawtucket working on his swing, but that alignment raises as many questions as it answers:

• What do the Sox do with Victorino if he comes back healthy, as he vows to do, with $13 million and one year left on his contract? Even if the Sox had plans to trade him, they won't be able to do so before he shows he's healthy in spring.

• What if Cespedes, eligible to become a free agent after 2015, signals his intention to leave after the season?

• What if the Sox have to surrender Betts as the price of acquiring a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher?

• What if the Sox make a run at Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, even though the Marlins insist he's going nowhere, or Atlanta's Jason Heyward, who is a year away from free agency but would offer the Sox left-handed balance and play outstanding corner defense?

• What if Bradley, arguably the best defensive center fielder the Sox have had in 40 years, has a great spring? Does he force himself back into the picture?

This much is clear: GM Ben Cherington will not go into the 2015 season with an outfield that combined to hit 26 home runs, the fewest in the majors, and languished near the bottom of most of the other key offensive categories as well. But how he gets there should be fascinating to watch.

Red Sox outfielders' performance this season (major league rankings):
  • Batting average: .249, 27th
  • On-base percentage: .313, 23rd
  • Slugging percentage: .356, 28th
  • Home runs: 26, 30th
  • Extra-base hits: LF 44, 20th; CF 37, 24th; RF 49, 17th
  • Offensive WAR: LF 1.4, 17th; CF 0.8, 26th; RF 1.7, 16th
  • Errors: LF 6, 18th; CF 1, 1st (tied); RF 4, 9th
  • Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average: LF -7, 23rd; CF -3, 20th; RF 10, 6th
Left fielders used: 9
Offensive stats: Jonny Gomes 54 G, .224/.311/.321/.632 3 HR, 24 RBIs; Yoenis Cespedes 43, .266/.297/.439/.737 5, 30; Daniel Nava 35, .316/.397/.351/.748 0, 5; Grady Sizemore 22, .277/.330/.422/.751 1, 13; Mike Carp 10, .207/.258/.241/.499 0, 3; Brock Holt 7, .333/.375/.400/.775 0,0; Bryce Brentz 5, .300/.300/.350/.650 0, 2; Allen Craig 1, .250/.250/.500/.750 0, 0; Kelly Johnson 1, .000/.000/.000/.000 0, 0.

Center fielders used: 5
Offensive stats: Jackie Bradley Jr. 107 G, .198/.270/.267/.537 1 HR, 26 RBIs; Mookie Betts 28, .272/.353/.447/.800 4, 11; Grady Sizemore 16, .191/.309/.298/.607 1, 1; Rusney Castillo 10, .333/.400/.528/.928 2, 6; Brock Holt 9, .143/.200/.179/379 0, 0.

Right fielders used: 10
Offensive stats: Daniel Nava 65 G, .267/.329/.390/.719 4 HR, 27 RBIs; Brock Holt 32, .311/.356/.475/.831 2, 9; Shane Victorino 30, .268/.303/.382/.685 2, 12; Grady Sizemore 14, .148/.207/.204/.411 0, 1; Allen Craig 10, .160/.323/.200/.523 0, 0; Mookie Betts 9, .355/.412/.484/.896 0, 1; Jackie Bradley Jr. 8, .217/.217/.261/.478 0, 4; Jonny Gomes .241/.333/.345/.678 1, 3; Alex Hassan 2, .143/.250/.143/.393 0, 0; Bryce Brentz 1, .250/.250/.250/.500 0, 0.

SportsNation

Who should be the Red Sox starting right fielder in 2015?

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    30%
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    5%
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    50%
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    5%
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    10%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,612)

Best performance: All the preseason attention was focused on two other rookies, Bradley and Xander Bogaerts, but the 21-year-old Betts may have stamped himself as the team's leadoff hitter of the future with his coming-out party. He handled the transition to the outfield, which he had barely played before arriving here, with aplomb, brought speed and athleticism to the lineup, and showed that he can drive the ball as well.

Biggest disappointment: Bradley was historically bad at the plate, his .198 average the lowest ever of any Sox rookie who had 300 or more plate appearances. The depths to which he fell were puzzling, given his history of being able to hit going back to his college stardom at South Carolina and throughout the minor leagues. Bradley expresses confidence he will hit, and former big leaguers like Mike Cameron recalled fighting similar slumps early in their career, but it's an open question whether Bradley gets another chance here.

Biggest surprise: A strong case could be made for either of the converted infielders, Betts or Holt, thriving in the outfield, but did anyone really foresee Gomes going from such a key role player in 2013 to non-factor so quickly?

Outlook for 2015: We've touched on it above, but the outfield situation is so fluid the Sox could go in any number of directions.

Potential free-agent signings: The Sox won't be targeting an outfielder in free agency.

Potential trade targets: If they make a trade, it will only be in a megadeal (Stanton or Heyward).

[+] EnlargeMookie Betts
Elsa/Getty ImagesWill Rusney Castillo live up to his $72.5 million contract?
Prospects in the system: He's only 20 and hasn't played above Class A Salem, but Manuel Margot is already ranked the third-best prospect in the Sox system by SoxProspects.com, which cites his plus-plus speed, his plus-defensive skills and potential impact bat as the tools of a potential future All-Star.

Scout's take: Castillo has way more upside in center field than Bradley. He has tremendous actions in center field, he's faster than Bradley though the arm isn't as strong, and he looks like he will hit. That's saying a lot, since Bradley's defense was Gold Glove stellar. I think Bradley will mature, but his bat has a long way to go, and you can't start in a major league outfield if you can't hit. I think he has trade value, for a team that takes a chance that his bat will come along, knowing that he may end up no more than an extra outfielder. The problem for the Red Sox is his bat has already been exposed on the major league level. Unlike Castillo or Betts, there was never any spark or surge. The people I talk to about Betts love his athleticism and versatility.

I expect Cespedes to test free agency. I've seen a little regression in his game since he first came over from Cuba, and I don't think he's a good corner outfielder. A lot of his highlight plays came out of misplays. His whole effort level, to me, was greater when he first came here. He'll produce offense in real good spurts, but I'm not buying the total package. I guarantee you there will be no hometown discounts. For me, a lot of yellow flags.

I've never been a Craig guy, and now his injury history comes into play. The Sox have a real jigsaw puzzle to solve in their outfield.

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