The whirlwind trade deadline has come and gone, leaving the Red Sox an entirely changed baseball team. Since the Jake Peavy trade, the Sox have turned over better than a quarter of their roster, leaving a lot of old friends absent and bringing a lot of new faces into the mix.
This series against the Yankees will give us our first look at many of them, and even at (at least) one of our own guys, fresh from the minors. Anthony Ranaudo will be the starting pitcher for game one, making his major league debut four years after the will-they, won't-they signing saga that's marked the most interesting post-draft drama the Red Sox have seen in quite a long time. His path to the majors has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, with injuries setting him well back right off the bat. But 2013 and 2014 have seen him playing up to his pre-draft hype. but only a major league test will show whether his repertoire has developed enough to make him a worthwhile addition to the rotation.
There's no question whether the other newbies are major league ready. I speak, of course, of Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, and Joe Kelly. What we will get is the first look at our new players in Fenway Park. Kelly will have to wait a bit to show that he can hang in the cozy confines, but Cespedes and Craig will get a chance to display the power the Red Sox clearly coveted right away.
For Cespedes, immediate returns will not be quite as important as for Craig, at least in the eyes of Red Sox fans. Cespedes is not a perfectly known quantity. His first year in the majors was far more successful in terms of offense, his last two in terms of defense, and there's the question of just how much Fenway Park will do for his offense. Still, the Red Sox traded, essentially, for the Cespedes we've seen this season, with the hope that there might be a perfect combination of 2012 offense and 2014 defense which could make him a steal.
For Craig, there's certainly something to prove. Maybe his 2014 season is just a lost cause and it won't be until 2015 that we really have a hope of seeing the bat of 2011-2013 return. Or maybe the change of scenery is all he needs. With an average annual value of $6.2 million, the risk isn't all that high for the Red Sox, but given that we traded John Lackey for his services, Red Sox fans will expect the reward half to pan out.
Oh, right, and it's Red Sox vs. Yankees. I'd say welcome to the rivalry, but...let's be honest, this isn't that great of an introduction. The Red Sox are out of it, the Yankees are trying to stay afloat (with a -30 run differential). They even went ahead and pulled off a trade yesterday, however minor. Hopefully we bring some more life to the mix next year, and hopefully the new guys give us some reason to hope for that in the weeks to come.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. You can join in now using this link and pick Yoenis Cespedes because Yoenis Cespedes is going to be awesome in Fenway and I want to believe.