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Setting goals for the 2020 Red Sox

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Is this the same as resolutions? Who’s to say?

Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Happy New Year everyone. With it being January 1, you’re going to see a lot of posts around the ol’ interwebs today about New Years resolutions. Not here though. Folks, we’re going to do goals. Is that functionally the same thing? We’ll leave that up to whatever higher being you may or may not believe in. How it’s going to work is that I will go through every player on the 40-man roster — in alphabetical order, as per OTM custom — and write two or three sentences about what their goal for 2020 should be. Some are general, some are more specific, some are personal, some are statistical, some are eye-ball-y. It’s a hodgepodge! Is this also a preview for a lot of my Big Questions for the season previews that will get started in about a month? Maybe! I legitimately don’t know! Anyway, let’s get started.

Jonathan Arauz, 2B/SS

Make the Opening Day Roster; Arauz was a Rule 5 Draft pick who has some decent upside, but even with the active roster being increased to 26 players it’s hard to stash an unusable player for a whole season. His goal is to prove in spring training he is usable.

Yoan Aybar, LHP

Hit the strike zone; Aybar has only been pitching for a couple of years and only has a few innings as high as High-A, but the stuff is legitimate. If he can throw strikes more consistently, there’s something here.

Matt Barnes, RHP

Reign it in a little; Barnes is truly one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. He can afford to take just a little bit off his stuff in exchange for better command.

Andrew Benintendi, LF

Just be you, dude; Benintendi is coming off a rough year where he was pretty clearly pressing at the plate and just not having the at bats that make him who he is. He needs to stop worrying about being a star and just be a good contributor.

Mookie Betts, RF

Sign an extension; Okay, maybe this one is just for me, but what else is there for him to improve, ya know?

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Be better defensively; I think we’ve seen the fully formed offensive version of Xander Bogaerts, and it’s beautiful. Now let’s see it on the other side, too.

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Consistent offense; I mean, duh. Right?

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Ryan Brasier, RHP

Find your fastball command; Brasier was one of the more disappointing players on the roster in 2019, largely because he couldn’t locate his fastball as well as he had the year before. He needs to consistently hit the top of, or above, the zone again.

Colten Brewer, RHP

Fix the cutter; Brewer was brought on board at least partially because he was a spin rate darling with a curveball and a cutter. The curveball was fine, but the cutter fell off the map in 2019.

C.J. Chatham, INF

Be a little more patient; Chatham profiles as a fine bench piece, but as a batting average-heavy player at the plate anything more than that will be tough. Even a league average walk rate would go a long way.

Michael Chavis, 1B/2B/3B

Learn to hit the high heat; This was a well-documented area of struggle for the rookie in 2019, and you better believe pitchers will attack him up in the zone with fastballs early and often in 2020.

Bobby Dalbec, 3B/1B

Master First Base; Saying “Maintain the lowered strike out rate” felt too easy, so I’m going with this. Rafael Devers is the third baseman here, so Dalbec has to master the cold corner if he wants a role on this team.

Rafael Devers, 3B

Become a little more selective; Devers arrived as a legitimate hitter in 2019. If he can lay off a few more pitches while keeping his natural aggression that makes him so special, he can join the upper tier.

Nathan Eovaldi, RHP

Go find that 2018 cutter; The biggest reason Eovaldi was so successful in 2018 — even before the playoffs and even coming to Boston — was the addition of the cutter back into his repertoire. It was a terrible pitch in 2019.

Kyle Hart, LHP

Don’t take your foot off the gas; The past is littered with fringy pitchers who made the 40-man on Rule 5 protection day but weren’t real contributors at the highest level. Hart doesn’t want to join that list.

Heath Hembree, RHP

Get the ball on the ground sometimes; Hembree is a home run machine, which I don’t ever see changing. But he hardly ever allowed grounders in 2019, which only exacerbated the issue.

Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP

Be a star; I’ve gone back and forth on what I think Hernandez will be too many times to count. I know what I think he can be, though, and he can be it as soon as 2020.

Marco Hernández, INF

Put the ball in play; Pre-injury Hernández was good because he swung a lot, made contact and let good things happen. That’s the recipe for success here.

Travis Lakins, RHP

Become a modern pitcher; What I mean by this: Be the swingman; multi-inning reliever; opener; jack-of-all trades that we are seeing in baseball and that are only going to become more valuable over the next five years.

Tzu-Wei Lin, UTIL

Get more time in the outfield; This one isn’t really up to Lin so much, but his best path forward is the one with as much versatility as humanly possible.

J.D. Martinez, DH/OF

Stay healthy; Martinez played in 146 games last year, but he was dealing with back spasms all year that surely affected his production, which was still good but short of great.

Chris Mazza, RHP

Stay on the 40-man; Mazza was claimed not too long ago, but he’s close enough to the bottom of the roster that he has to be close to his best at all times to avoid the chopping block if/when room is needed.

Josh Osich; LHP

Bring back the changeup; The changeup was an effective weapon for Osich in 2018, and with the three-batter rule set to be implemented in 2020 it could come in handy moving forward.

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Do what’s best for you; There are going to be a lot of people telling Dustin Pedroia what he should or shouldn’t do. He shouldn’t care about any of it.

José Peraza, 2B

Hit the ball low; This goes against modern conventional wisdom, but Peraza’s successful seasons have been BABIP driven. Hit grounders and line drives and then let your legs do the talking.

Martín Pérez, LHP

Miss a few bats; A lot has been made about Pérez’ contact profile last year, which is great. But he could also use a few strikeouts because leaving things entirely up to a not-great infield defense, an outfield defense potentially in flux (not to mention possible regression and/or adjustment from the rest of the league) seems less than ideal.

Bobby Poyner; LHP

Choose homers or walks; Poyner is an extremely flyball pitcher who also walked too many guys in 2019. He can get away with one and be middle reliever, but not both.

David Price; LHP

Be able to throw the cutter; I’ve written about this many, many times by now, but this is what it comes down to for Price. If he can throw his cutter at full capacity, I fully believe he is an All-Star caliber pitcher.

Denyi Reys, RHP

Make major-league debut; Reyes somewhat quietly had a solid year in 2019, particularly as the year went on. He’s a sneaky candidate to be major-league rotation depth once the summer rolls around.

Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

Improve that command; Rodriguez was one of the best Red Sox stories of 2019. If he wants to take the next step, the command needs to be consistently better.

Chris Sale, LHP

Stay Healthy; Sale is still fully capable of being dominant when on the mound and feeling fine. That’s a major question at this point, though.

Mike Shawaryn; RHP

Let it fly in the ‘pen; I was a believer in Shawaryn as a starter. I was wrong. Put him in one- or two-inning stints and let it fly.

Josh Taylor, LHP

Prove you’re no fluke; There’s more excitement around Darwinzon Hernandez (who I think has a higher ceiling, to be fair), than Taylor, but the latter was much more consistently effective in 2019. He’s still under the radar, particularly nationally, though. The goal is to change that.

Sam Travis, 1B/LF

Make the Opening Day roster; Travis is out of options, so he’s playing for a job this spring. Fortunately, this (spring training) is where he thrives.

Christian Vázquez, C

Prove you’re no fluke; Vázquez got more attention than Taylor, but there’s (understandable) skepticism. The goal is to prove the skeptics wrong.

Hector Velázquez, RHP

Find a new pitch mix; Velázquez succeeded for a couple of years despite lackluster stuff due to an ability to keep opponents off-balance and induce weak contact. That stopped working in 2019. It’s time for a new approach.

Marcus Walden, RHP

Miss more bats; Walden is a solid middle reliever type. If he wants to be more than that, he needs to get above the strikeout-per-inning mark.

Ryan Weber; RHP

Be the number one depth option; The Red Sox have a handful of rotation depth candidates slated for Triple-A, but none of them are particularly inspiring. Weber’s goal will be to sit atop that group on Opening Day.

Brandon Workman; RHP

End another year as the closer; Workman was phenomenal in 2019, but there are a few legitimate questions for 2020. If he answers them all positively, he’ll stay the closer all year.