2014 Boston Red Sox
|2014 Boston Red Sox |
|Major league affiliations|
|Baseball-Reference||2014 Boston Red Sox|
Managed by John Farrell
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2014 Boston Red Sox entered the season as the reigning World Champions, having completed a "worst-to-first" season. However, four major pieces from the championship team were missing at the start of the year: CF Jacoby Ellsbury, who had signed a huge free agent contract with the New York Yankees; C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had moved on to the Miami Marlins, also as a free agent; P Ryan Dempster, who had decided to take the year off; and SS Stephen Drew, who remained an unsigned free agent as the season started. The Red Sox were not particularly active on the transaction market, with only the signing of C A.J. Pierzynski, Saltalamacchia's successor, worthy of particular note. Another new player emerged out of nowhere during spring training, however: OF Grady Sizemore, who was finally healthy after missing two full seasons to various ailments, won the starting CF job as a non-roster invitee.
The Red Sox started the year slowly. They lost to the Baltimore Orioles on the road on Opening Day, but then won the next two games. They played their first game at Fenway Park on April 4th against the Milwaukee Brewers, the players having received their World Series rings before the game and a commemorative pennant having been added to the collection of similar mementos in the venerable ballpark. However, after 8 very tight innings, reliever Edward Mujica imploded in his Red Sox debut, giving up 4 runs in the top of the 9th for a 6-2 loss. The Brewers then proceeded to win the next two games to complete a sweep, something that had only happened once all of 2013; they had also not lost their first three home games in any season since 1984. Immediately, Red Sox fans, not being known as a patient lot, started to raise questions about whether management had been a bit too casual during the off-season, allowing rival teams to catch up. But the fans were on to something. The Red Sox finished April one game below .500, at 13-14, in third place in a bunched-up division, but quickly began to lose significant ground in May. On May 25th, they lost their 10th straight, 8-5, to the Tampa Bay Rays. The three-game sweep by the Rays that included two walk-off wins placed the Sox firmly in last place at 20-29, two games behind the Rays and 8 behind the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays. They ended the losing skein the next day, but it was still their longest since the 1994 season. In roller coaster fashion, however, the Red Sox then immediately swept a four-game series against a strong Atlanta Braves team, and then pulled off a three-game sweep of the Rays, putting a stop to some of the hand-wringing.
On July 9th, the Red Sox made a move that indicated they were seriously doubting that they would make a second-half push for the postseason, as they released veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski, replacing him with prospect Christian Vazquez. They were in last place with a record of 39-51 at the time, and less than a month earlier had already made a similar move when they had released OF Grady Sizemore in order to bring up rookie Mookie Betts. The message was clear: there was no reason to give playing time to aging veterans who would not be part of the future of the franchise. The housecleaning continued on July 26th when veteran starting pitcher Jake Peavy, acquired at the trading deadline a year earlier but sporting a 1-9 record this year, was dealt to the San Francisco Giants in return for two young pitchers, Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar. On July 31st, it was the turn of Jon Lester to be dealt, the veteran starter headed to the Oakland Athletics alongside OF Jonny Gomes, in return for OF Yoenis Cespedes. A few hours later, they traded another starting pitcher, this time John Lackey, to the St. Louis Cardinals, along with a minor leaguer, Corey Littrell, in return for OF/1B Allen Craig and P Joe Kelly. They completed a busy day's work by sending reliever Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles for P Eduardo Rodriguez and dealing SS Stephen Drew, who was barely hitting .176 since his late signing, to the New York Yankees of all folks, for IF Kelly Johnson.
All the changes did not really change the course of the season, as the Sox finished in last place, at 71-91, but they were meant to build a foundation for 2015. Another late-season move was a step in that direction, the signing of Cuban Defector Rusney Castillo, who came up for a few games in September and played very well in a small sample. The Red Sox brass then went all out in the off-season, continuing to reshape the club through trades and free agent signings in order to make another run at the prize.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Jon Lester and Koji Uehara
- AL Gold Glove: Dustin Pedroia (2B)
- 2014 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Xander Bogaerts (SS)