Seven Random Red Sox Thoughts Before 2023 MLB Season Begins

The Red Sox open up against the Orioles on Thursday


March 29

The Major League Baseball season is officially here, as the Boston Red Sox are slated to meet with the Baltimore Orioles in an Opening Day matchup at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday.

The 2022 season was far from joyful for Red Sox fans, but spring training provided a glimpse into just how different the 2023 iteration of this team is. Boston’s offseason plan of building depth and versatility in both its lineup and bullpen, with health being the ultimate factor in its rotation, looks like it has the chance to come to fruition for manager Alex Cora and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

There’s no doubt this is an extremely important season to lots of people at Fenway Park, which brings up plenty of thoughts about the construction and potential of the Red Sox in 2023.

So, much like we did prior to the start of spring training, let’s jot those thoughts down in advance of the season.

Let’s sit back and enjoy the Chris Sale experience
We’ll start with some advice, because at the end of the day it’s not that serious.

Chris Sale hasn’t played meaningful baseball in quite a while, pitching in just 11 games over the past three seasons. Now, he seems happy and healthy on his way to starting the second game of the season for the Red Sox. The freak injuries that have occurred led us to this point, missing a consistent “Sale Day” in our lives, and there’s nothing Boston fans can do except enjoy them now when they come.

We’re getting a Red Sox-Yankees ROTY race, aren’t we?
The Red Sox have two very real American League Rookie of the Year candidates in Masataka Yoshida and Triston Casas. The New York Yankees have one of their own in Anthony Volpe.

Yoshida (+600), Volpe (+650) and Casas (+900) rank second, third and fourth, respectively, in AL ROTY odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Given the magnitude of the rivalry between these two teams, MLB certainly wouldn’t mind handing the award out to one of these impactful first-year players. If you add in Gunnar Henderson (+270) and Grayson Rodriguez (+1300) of the Baltimore Orioles, who rank first and fifth, respectively, fans of the AL East are almost certain to get a long look at the winner this season.

Let’s see something fun
It feels like we haven’t seen any classic/historic moment in a while with the Red Sox. Well, at least one that they benefitted from.

Boston was no-hit in 2018 and saw the Blue Jays put up 28 runs at Fenway Park last summer. Sure, Mookie Betts won the AL MVP award in 2018 but things have been quiet over the past couple of seasons. Our guess? Rafael Devers will hit five doubles in one game.

How will the homegrown depth pieces contribute?
The Red Sox went outside of the organization to build their bench depth this season. Yu Chang and Raimel Tapia beat out the likes of Jarren Duran and Bobby Dalbec as the final bench pieces on Boston’s initial 26-man roster.

So, how will Duran and Dalbec contribute? They will certainly get their opportunities, as injuries will necessitate roster moves throughout the season. What they do with those opportunities is a whole other thing. Dalbec showed some defensive versatility during the spring, which should be enough to make him the next infielder up. Duran has some of the best speed in the entire organization and can get hot with the bat, but his streakiness has hindered his development through two up-and-down big league seasons. It’s just a waiting game to see if they can improve enough to stick around for the long haul.

What’s the deal with all these pitchers?
Let’s get more specific.

The Red Sox seemingly have 40 young pitchers who don’t have a set role, possessing the ability to start or come out of the bullpen. Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford and Josh Winckowski can do both, while Bryan Mata is another one of those pitchers who will likely make his MLB debut in 2023. This may seem like a first-world problem, but moving these guys around could hinder their development. Eventually, the Red Sox will have to make a decision on each pitcher and stick to it.

The trade deadline should be just as interesting, but less depressing, than 2022
The post-trade deadline mood in the Red Sox clubhouse last July could best be described as somber. Christian Vázquez was shipped over to the Houston Astros, but J.D. Martinez was kept around, sending a weird message to the rest of the team.

This year, the message should be more direct. What does that mean? Well, who knows. If the Red Sox are playing solid baseball they should go for it. If they aren’t, sell high. You just can’t run it back from last season.

The ceiling of this team comes down to health
This one will be short and sweet.

The Red Sox probably weren’t winning the World Series no matter what their health status was in 2022, but this team’s ceiling is all about health. The pitching staff and lineup have the talent, they just have to play together.

Thumbnail photo via Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports Images
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