The July 31 Trade Deadline fire sale that occurred in Boston was a clear indication that, only a year after winning the World Series championship, the Red Sox had conceded that 2014 was a lost season.
After the flurry of deadline deals, which saw established veteran starters like Jake Peavy, Jon Lester, and John Lackey leave town, the Boston front office showed that they wanted to start fresh, and give the new generation of highly-touted prospects a shot in the big leagues.
Since July 31, and even before that, Red Sox nation has gotten a glimpse at what the future of the squad looks like, and it looks pretty good.
“The legend of Brock Holt” hit Boston early this season, making his debut on April 18. Since then, Holt has been a revelation for the Red Sox, playing every position except pitcher since his debut, and hitting for a .295 batting average with 21 doubles, 23 RBI, and 26 walks in 356 at-bats.
Drafted in the ninth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Holt was traded along with closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox on December 26, 2012.
In 110 appearances since being a part of the Boston organization, Holt has collected 109 hits, 31 RBI, and 38 walks.
While Holt struggled in 26 games at the major league level in 2013, holding a .203 batting average with 11 RBI, 2014 has been a breakout year.
Holt has become a fan favorite in 2014, giving the Red Sox an incredible amount of defensive flexibility, filling in wherever he is needed, and getting the job done.
Looking into the future, wherever there is a place of need in the field, Brock Holt can fill it.
At the time, De La Rosa was one of the Dodgers top prospects, having the ability to get his fastball up to 97-98 mph. In 95 appearances during his minor league career, he posted an impressive 3.25 ERA with 370 strikeouts, while also holding batters to a .221 average in 373.1 innings pitched.
It looked, at the time, that the Red Sox had received a key cog for their future rotation.
Now thrust into a starting role for Boston, De La Rosa has not disappointed.
In 11 games this season, De La Rosa has recorded 48 strikeouts and has only allowed 25 runs in 67.1 innings pitched.
We have seen multiple flashes of brilliance from the right-hander this season, probably highlighted by his 2014 debut on May 31 against Tampa Bay, where he hurled seven innings of four-hit baseball, striking out eight and not allowing a run, and his June 16 start against Minnesota, where he only allowed one hit in seven innigns of shutout pitching.
In total this season, De La Rosa has allowed one or fewer runs in six of his 11 starts.
As the Red Sox look to contend again in 2015, they will look to De La Rosa to be a key part of the rotation, and if his results continue, it will be exciting to watch.
Another part of the 2012 blockbuster deal between Boston and Los Angeles was right-hander Allen Webster.
At the time, Webster was the second-best prospect in the Dodgers farm system, according to Baseball America, and was a key part of the return that Boston received from Los Angeles.
Since then, Red Sox fans still don’t know what they can expect from the 24-year old right-hander.
In 11 major league appearances for the Red Sox, Webster has been consistently inconsistent. in those appearances, Webster holds a 7.40 ERA, giving up 37 earned runs and 31 walks while striking out only 31 in 45 innings pitched.
With four-fifths of the Red Sox rotation having been traded away, Webster is currently a member of the rotation, and the organization is in the process of evaluating what they have in their fourth-best prospect, according to Baseball America.
In his three starts this season, Webster has shown glimpses of being an effective major league starting pitcher, winning two of them including a four-hit, two-run performance over 6.2 innings in a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He has also shown signs of regression, including a 2.2 inning appearance against the New York Yankees, where he walked six and allowed four earned runs.
Will Webster be a future contributor at the major league level for the Red Sox? We will have to wait and see.
Probably one of the most exciting pieces that the Red Sox recieved back from their trade deadline fire sale was starting pitcher Joe Kelly, who Boston acquired from the Cardinals along with outfielder Allen Craig in return for John Lackey.
Instead of low-level prospects, the Red Sox acquired Kelly, who has major league and postseason experience to bring to the overhauled rotation.
For the Cardinals in 2013, Kelly was a key piece of the pitching staff, making 37 appearances and 15 starts, in which he held an impressive 2.69 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 124 innings pitched.
The right-hander dazzled in the beginning of the 2014 season, posting a 0.59 ERA in three starts in the month of April. Kelly then struggled with injuries, which caused him to miss the moths of May and June.
In his first start as a member of the Red Sox, Kelly showed the nation what they had to look forward to, hurling seven innings against his former team, only allowing three hits and one run.
In his second, and most recent start, Kelly followed his impressive debut with a six inning performance against the Cincinati Reds, only allowing five hits and two runs.
Kelly did not factor in either decision, but both were Red Sox victories.
The right-hander is currently auditioning to be a part of the 2015 rotation, and so far, he is exceeding all expectations.
After the mass exodus of players from the Red Sox roster, fans everywhere thought that the team would be unwatchable, and that they would lie down until the end of the season.
What we have seen, instead, is quite the opposite. The Red Sox roster is now filled with young players who are playing with nothing to lose, have shown resiliency, and are hungry for a spot on the 2015 team.
Since July 31, the Red Sox are 6-5, including wining five of their last seven games. These games have been won in large part to the infusion of youth into the roster.
While the Red Sox will surely not contend to defend their World Series championship in 2014, the future does look bright, indeed.