Much has been made about the Red Sox’ inability to score runs at the same pace they did last season, when they scored an incredible 853 runs to lead all of baseball. Boston was first or second in nearly every major offensive category last year, and so far in 2014 the numbers are painting a much different picture.
The Red Sox owned a .277 batting average in 2013, which was good for second best in the majors. Through 38 games this season, Bostonâ€™s batting average is the 10th worst in the MLB at .246. Although the Sox are still getting on base at a respectable .337, they have been unable to collect the big hit at times and drive in base runners.
Boston also led all of baseball in both RBIs and runs scored last season, but rank just 15th and 16th respectively in those categories so far this season. At their current pace the Red Sox will score 165 less runs than a year ago, which will make it tough to compete in an American League East division that is as stout as ever.
Although Bostonâ€™s pitching has been shaky at times, the teamâ€™s 3.79 ERA is exactly what they finished with in 2013. The Red Sox were able to find success with their average pitching last season by finding timely hits and scoring a ton of runs, which is exactly what they will need to do in 2014 if they expect to make another run at a World Series title.
Giancarlo Stanton is off to an incredible start with the Miami Marlins, and his bat could be just what the Red Sox need to get back to being one of the more prolific offensive teams in baseball. Through 40 games this season, the slugging right fielder has a very impressive .312/.398/.597 slash line.
At only 24 years old, Stanton already has 128 home runs on his resume and looks to become one of the gameâ€™s best power hitters for years to come. He has also shown an ability to hit in the clutch, which he demonstrated with a walk-off grand slam against the Mariners a few weeks ago:
Giancarlo could be such a perfect fit with the Red Sox, itâ€™s almost eerie. As of May 14, Stanton is on pace to collect 199 hits including 45 doubles and 45 home runs this season. Ironically, the Red sox are on pace to collect 207 fewer hits including 45 fewer doubles and home runs respectively.
Stanton is also projected to earn 90 walks, score 111 runs and drive in 172 RBIs (which would be good for 7th all-time in MLB history).
Itâ€™s pretty clear to see that Stanton would be a huge addition to a Boston lineup that has struggled to find its offensive identity in the first quarter of the season. In addition to hitting for average, Stantonâ€™s power bat would be supplemented nicely with two 30+ home run threats in David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. Add to that his ability to draw the walk and get on base, and Stanton looks like he was designed specifically for the Red Sox and Fenway Park.
Unfortunately, itâ€™s usually not easy to pluck away young talent with that kind of potential from a franchise looking to rebuild itself. However, the Red Sox have plenty of prospects to make a trade worthwhile, and the Marlins organization has never shown a great interest in signing its young talent to long-term contracts.
One of the hottest prospects in all of baseball is second basemen Mookie Betts, currently playing for the Red Sox AA affiliate Portland Sea Dogs. Dating back to August, Betts has been on fire reaching base safely in his last 68 consecutive games. The 21-year-old infielder has also hit safely in 31 of his 33 games in Portland so far this season, and his slash line is an incredible .399/.462/.601.
However, it seems as though Betts will have a tough time finding his way onto Bostonâ€™s major league roster in the foreseeable future. His path is seemingly blocked by former MVP and perennial All-Star Dustin Pedroia, as well as rookie sensation Xander Bogaerts. Pedroia recently signed a massive contract extension through 2021, and Bogaerts wonâ€™t be eligible for free agency until 2020.
It seems that now would be the perfect time to sell high on Betts, including him in a package with some of the Red Sox other talented young prospects.
25-year old outfielder Bryce Brentz impressed many during spring training this year, and has slugged five home runs to go with 26 RBIs at AAA Pawtucket. His batting average leaves something to be desired at .214, but his 20 walks show an ability to get on base that should only increase as he perfects his approach at the plate in coming seasons.
Boston also has a plethora of pitching at the minor league level, with six of their top ten prospects being starting pitchers. That list includes Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo, all of whom have been highly touted in the Sox organization.
Brandon Workman, who is currently with AAA Pawtucket is also on that list, and has already had a decent sized cup of coffee at the major league level. Workman pitched in both the ALCS and World Series for Boston last season, including important innings in both series deciding games.
The Red Sox also have talent at the major league level which could be used in a push for Stanton.
Mike Carp is relatively young at 27 years old, and has the versatility to play first base as well as both corner outfield positions. He has struggled to find playing time in Boston with Jonny Gomes and Grady Sizemore platooning left field for the most part, and has only played in half of the teams contests thus far.
Daniel Nava was a big piece in Bostonâ€™s 2013 championship run, but was optioned to AAA after struggling to get on base in the early going. Nava can also play first base and both outfield positions, as well as switch hit.
When it comes to the Red Sox depth, as well as their limited financial responsibilities over the next few seasons, the possibilities are endless. Not only does Boston have plenty of pieces to make a trade for Stanton, but the payroll flexibility to sign him to a long-term extension.
Although the Red Sox front office has been hesitant to hand out those type of long term deals in recent years , itâ€™s not every day you have the chance to acquire one of the gameâ€™s most polarizing players in their prime. If Boston does not start scoring runs on a consistent basis, donâ€™t be surprised if they make an early season splash by trading for Giancarlo Stanton.
- Forrest Mulheron is Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.comÂ