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The Red Sox rotation underwent a drastic makeover mid-season when they traded away Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront. That left the struggling Clay Buchholz as the only holdover from the rotation the team started the season with and he may have been shipped out of town too if he had a shred of value at the time. Boston filled out the rest of it's rotation by auditioning a collection of young pitchers to get a look at which ones showed enough potential at the big league level to earn a spot for next season or build trade value.
The young pitchers went through some growing pains and none of them were able to drastically separate themselves from the pack. Boston's rotation was decent through the first half of the season, combining to post a 4.09 ERA, but the starter's ERA rose to 4.93 after the trade deadline.
The Red Sox outfield was one of the worst in the league offensively in 2014. They finished 27th in batting average (.249), 23rd in OBP (.313), and dead last in home runs (26). Yoenis Cespedes hit nearly that many home runs by himself, but most of those came in an Oakland A's uniform.
Boston started the season with the intention of using Shane Victorino in right field, reclamation project Grady Sizemore in center, and a platoon of Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes in left. Needless to say, that didn't work out. Victorino couldn't stay on the field, appearing in only 30 games before being shut down for the season. The Sizemore experiment never worked out and he was mercifully released in mid-June. Nava played his way back to Pawtucket after a miserable start and Gomes was shipped out of town at the trade deadline.
Improving an offense that dropped from being the best in the majors all the way down to 18th will be a priority for the Boston Red Sox this off-season, and they'll be bringing in a new hitting coach to help them do it. Sources have revealed to several media outlets that the team has hired former All-Star outfielder Chili Davis for the position.
Davis had previously been in the Red Sox organization as a hitting instructor for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011. With his path to a major league coaching position blocked at the time, Davis left to spend the last three seasons as the hitting coach for the Oakland A's. Under his guidance, the A's finished 3rd in the AL in runs scored and 5th in OBP this season.
Davis will replace Greg Colbrunn, who elected not to return after spending two seasons in the position with the Red Sox. Colbrunn was hospitalized on June 4 after suffering a brain hemorrhage and missed 24 games this season while recovering. He cited a desire to spend more time with his family as a primary factor in his decision.
The Red Sox signed Mujica to a two-year, $9.5 million deal last winter to bolster their bullpen and serve as insurance for Koji Uehara in the 9th inning. He saved 37 games the previous year for the St. Louis Cardinals and was named to the NL All-Star team, indicating he had the necessary experience to take over that role if anything were to happen to their 39-year old closer.
His Red Sox career got off to a rocky start when he took the loss in only his second appearance of the season, getting shelled for four runs by the Milwaukee Brewers. He ended up surrendering at least one run in 6 of his 10 April appearances, finishing the month with a brutal 10.00 ERA. Needless to say, the Red Sox could not have been thrilled with their investment early on and it would take some time before Mujica could be trusted again in a tight spot.
October 17, 2004. The Boston Red Sox trailed the New York Yankees three games to none in the American League Championship Series with legendary closer Mariano Rivera on the mound, ready to slam the door shut on the Red Sox season. That's the moment when franchise history was forever changed.
It's known as "The Steal." Kevin Millar led off the 9th inning with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Dave Roberts. Boston had acquired Roberts at the trade deadline that season for precisely this moment, with the fate of their season hanging in the balance. Roberts didn't let them down. He took off on the first pitch, sliding in safely to second base a split second ahead of the tag.
Two pitches later, Bill Mueller drove the ball up the middle for a base hit, allowing Roberts to race home to tie the game. The invincible Rivera had entered the game a perfect 6-for-6 in postseason save opportunities against Boston, but he wasn't able to close them out that night.