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'They're Not A World Series Favorite, But They're Not A Total Pushover': CBS Sports MLB Writer Mike Axisa On Boston Red Sox & 2020 MLB Season

(WBZ)-- A lot has changed for the Boston Red Sox since they failed to make the playoffs and finished third in the AL East in 2019.

Mookie Betts and David Price got traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ron Roenicke became the new manager of the Sox after Alex Cora got suspended for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal and Chris Sale got Tommy John surgery.

There are lots of question marks about Boston as the MLB's shortened season begins on Thursday, but CBS's MLB writer Mike Axisa thinks they will be an interesting team to watch this summer.

"I don't know if they're rebuilding or trying to win, or if they're trying to do something in the middle." said Axisa in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "You can't trade Mookie Betts and David Price and say you're going all in on trying to win. I look at the lineup and the lineup is really good. They are going to score a lot of runs, even without Betts. The rotation is not good though. I don't think they're going to be a World Series favorite and I don't think they're going to be a total pushover either. They're at best the third best team in their division."

While players like Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers will need to step up in order to make up for the production of Betts, Axisa says the most important player for Boston this year is outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

"I think it has to be Benintendi. Devers made the big step last year and Bogaerts really did it a few years ago," said Axisa. "Benintendi has been good, but he hasn't been great for a guy who was the former seventh overall pick. His combination of contact ability and plate discipline suggests he should be elite. He should be a lot better than he has been. You see him swing through fastballs over the plate and when he does make contact, the ball doesn't jump off his bat, but he's still so young. The talent is there, but the production hasn't caught up yet."

The Red Sox begin the 2020 season at Fenway Park on Friday, July 24 against the Baltimore Orioles.

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