Boston, MA– In just two days, the Boston Red Sox return to regular season action for the first time since they won it all last fall against the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the reigning World Series champions, the team is very conscious of what that kind of daunting status means for them, but manager Alex Cora was clear that they want to continue their story, rather than "turn the page." And with Sandy Leon designated to Triple A in Pawtucket, it seems like the roster is finally starting to crystallize as the Red Sox prepare to face the Seattle Mariners on Thursday and engage with their own Opening Day.
No team has repeated as World Series champions in consecutive seasons since the New York Yankees did it three times in a row from 1998 to 2000, so the Red Sox definitely do not have history on their side. What they do have is a much better team compared to past seasons when they continuously flip-flopped from worst to first to worst, giving Boston fans seasonal whiplash. This time around, barring any sort of monumental implosion, the Red Sox will not find themselves in the cellar of the American League. But considering the fact that it is incredibly rare to win more than 100 games in the league (and even more rare for a team to win 108, considering it was a Red Sox team record), you have to think that there will be some regression in store for the Red Sox.
I don't know if I'd expect them to attain the same record-setting heights again in 2019, but I still believe they will be among the league's top contenders.
Obviously, the bullpen is the Achilles heel right now. Cora was able to endure the 2018 post-season with unconventional bullpen strategies, but an actual crew needs to exist for the Red Sox to make it through the long regular season. Currently without a closer (Craig Kimbrel is still a free agent), I have to imagine that it's one of Dave Dombrowski's top priorities in building the 2019 roster.
But aside from that, things look great. Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, and J.D. Martinez are all returning. David Price and Nathan Eovaldi have bolstered the pitching rotation. Boston still has one of the league's all-time great outfields. Things are not at all dire and I'm quite optimistic. With a manager who is the envy of the league, I am predicting another strong finish for the Red Sox this season. They probably won't quite hit 108 wins, but I am optimistic that they won't regress as much as experts seem to expect. Another AL East title is very realistic and another World Series title is absolutely within reach. Here's to another great season for the Red Sox!