2015 Boston Red Sox
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|2015 Boston Red Sox |
|Major league affiliations|
|Manager(s)||John Farrell and Torey Lovullo|
|Baseball-Reference||2015 Boston Red Sox|
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2015 Boston Red Sox came into the season with high hopes. Sure, they had finished last in the AL East in 2014, but just a year before that, in 2013, they had been World Series champions. They had made plenty of moves late in the 2014 season and before the start of 2015, coming into the year with a revamped roster. Among the newcomers were OF Hanley Ramirez and 3B Pablo Sandoval, both signed free agents in the off-season, OF Allen Craig and P Joe Kelly, both acquired in a late-season trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, P Rick Porcello, coming over from the Detroit Tigers, and P Wade Miley, brought over in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Some of the pillars of recent good Boston teams were still around, mainly DH David Ortiz, 2B Dustin Pedroia and P Clay Buchholz, as well as some of the heroes of the 2013 title like closer Koji Uehara, 1B Mike Napoli and OF Shane Victorino.
One unusual characteristic of this Red Sox team was that there was plenty of young talent in the organization, although the question was how much it was ready to contribute. The highly-touted SS Xander Bogaerts and OF Jackie Bradley had received extended looks the previous year and shown both good things and less good ones. IF turned OF Mookie Betts and utility player Brock Holt had been very solid in spite of not being heralded, and others were in the pipeline such as OF Rusney Castillo, Cs Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart, and pitching prospects Matt Barnes, Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez. There was no lack of talent around; the question was whether manager John Farrell would be able to sort out who should start (the logjam of potential outfielders was a particular problem), who should be on the bench in Boston, and who needed more seasoning with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. This would go a long way towards answering the question of whether the team's real worth was closer to the 2013 champions or the 2014 cellar-dwellers.
The Red Sox started the season well. They crushed the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-0, on opening day, April 6th, behind the pitching of Buchholz, and were 7-3 after 10 games. In fact, they were still in first place on April 25th, as the bold moves of General Manager Ben Cherington seemed to have paid off. However, starting on May 1st, they lost 7 of 8 games and were in last place, 5 1/2 games back on May 9th. They leveled off until a seven-game losing streak in early June put their heads firmly under water, On June 15th, they were already 11 games below .500 and 9 games out of first place. They managed to play slightly above .500 until the All-Star Game, finishing the first half at 42-47, but they were firmly ensconced in last place by then. They only had one representative at the Mid-Summer Classic, and an unexpected one in Brock Holt, who had contributed one of the few highlights of the first half by hitting for the cycle on June 16th. Injuries had taken their toll and the starting pitching had been a particular disappointment, prompting the insertion of first Rodriguez and later Owens in the starting rotation. Not surprisingly, the Red Sox were sellers at the trading deadline, but were not very active, having few valuable trading chits: they did send away 1B Napoli and OF Victorino, although the return was minimal.
Some important changes took place in August. Team President Larry Lucchino, one of the main architects of the Red Sox's three World Series titles in the 21st century, announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season, and on August 14th, manager Farrell took a leave of absence for the remainder of the season in order to fight a cancerous form of lymphoma. Well-respected bench coach Torey Lovullo took over as interim manager. Farrell's sad announcement seemed to light a fire under the Red Sox's bats, as in their first two games under Lovullo, the Sox exploded for 15 and 22 runs against the Seattle Mariners, the second time in team history, and first since 1950, that they had 15 or more runs and 20 or more hits in consecutive games. In fact, no other major league team had matched the feat in the intervening 65 years. Even more encouraging was that the youngsters were at the heart of the offensive explosion: rookie 1B Travis Shaw, playing regularly after Napoli's trade, hit a pair of homers in the first game, and in the second, OF Jackie Bradley had a game for the ages, with five extra-base hits - three doubles and two homers -, 5 runs and 7 RBIs, while C Swihart and SS Bogaerts pitched in with four hits each, and IF Josh Rutledge, scored four runs. This also coincided with David Ortiz finally getting hot, hitting over .400 with 5 homers and 12 RBIs in the first half of the month. Thanks to this outburst, Ortiz was now within 10 homers of joining the 500 home run club, giving the Fenway Park faithful something to look forward to over the last six weeks of the season.
Other changes in the front office came on August 18th, when the Red Sox unexpectedly announced that they had hired Dave Dombrowski, recently let go as General Manager of the Tigers, to be Vice-President of baseball operations. Dombrowski said that he wanted GM Ben Cherington to stay on the job, but the latter demurred, immediately announcing his resignation. Through all this turmoil, the Red Sox continued to play their best ball of the season, as they finished the month of August with 9 wins in their final 13 games. On September 24th, Mike Hazen was named to replace Cherington as the team's GM. The Red Sox finished last, but played much better in the final two months, going 28-20 under Lovullo's guidance. However,there was no plan of his taking over the job permanently, as it was announced as the season ended that Farrell's treatment had been successful and that he would be back as manager in 2016, with a sense that the team had turned a corner and would now be relying largely on younger players such as Bogaerts, Betts, Bradley and pitcher Rodriguez.
Awards and Honors