Every Yankee fan my age has vivid memories of the late-90s, back when the Bronx Bombers ruled baseball. Every conversation about that dynasty begins with the “Core Four” of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Bernie Williams.

Yes, Yankee fans, I realize that Jorge Posada is normally considered the fourth member of the Core Four over Bernie Williams. But this just illustrates why Yankee fans are complete dummies. A catcher with so-so defense was more important to a dynasty than the centerfielder/cleanup hitter who still has the third most postseason home runs of all time? Why do I know more about Yankees baseball than you do?

I’d say be better, but you’re Yankee fans. I can only expect so much.  

Regardless of whether you’re a Bernie guy or a Posada guy, some combination of four of those five players has always been supremely revered as the tip of the spear that skewered the rest of Major League Baseball to the tune of four championships in five seasons.

Most teams don’t have a group of four reliable lynchpins to lead the charge for their team, let alone four proven champions that all have legitimate Hall of Fame credentials. When you narrow the field to championship teams, however, you can usually zero in on four guys that were most critical to the team’s success in terms of on-field production and leadership.

For instance, here are my picks for the four Red Sox championship teams I’ve witnessed.

2004: Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz

2007: Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon 

2013: Jon Lester, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Koji Uehara

2018: Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez

There may be some room for disagreement with these choices, but I doubt any Red Sox fan would have a huge problem with those groupings. What a whole bunch of Red Sox fans will disagree with me on is my thoughts on the team’s chances in 2023.

This team, composed mostly of young farmhands and unheralded veterans, looks on paper like a squad bound for last place in what is shaping up to be the best division in all of baseball for the second straight year. However, I think the 2023 Boston Red Sox have a very good chance of surprising a lot of people and making a good run.

Of course, a lot of things will have to go their way for this to actually happen.

The Red Sox will have to stay healthy. The vast majority of them will have to live up to the projections Chaim Bloom has made for them. And last but certainly not least, a few key players will have to step to the forefront to become the dependable go-to guys that the rest of the team can look to for direction and inspiration. They will need a core that can galvanize the rest of the roster to rise up and become the best possible version of themselves.

In other words, the 2023 Boston Red Sox need a core four that harkens back to the Jeter-Pettitte-Rivera-Williams engine that steered the late 90s Yankees to glory.

Here are my picks for the four guys that are most capable of becoming the foundation that can pilot this Red Sox team to a surprisingly successful season.


Kiké Hernandez

Check out my column from last week to see Kiké’s credentials as the undisputed leader of the 2023 Red Sox. He’s no superstar, but he has the leadership qualities, talent, postseason success, and intangibles to command the respect of everyone in the locker room.


Rafael Devers

The one offensive superstar remaining on the team, and the one offensive holdover from the 2018 championship team. He’ll be in Boston for the next 11 years, and this season is the first opportunity he’ll have to assure the fanbase that the front office made the right move in dropping $330 million to build around him. He’s one of the best pure hitters in baseball and has as much fun on the field as any pro you will see, but he also holds himself to a fierce standard. Raffy curses at himself in Spanish every time he fails to square up a pitch in the strike zone, which is good to see as a fan. It reveals how seriously he takes his role in the team’s success, and shows us that he’s not just taking his cuts and collecting his paycheck. At his price tag, Devers now has a responsibility to be the best hitter in Boston’s lineup for the foreseeable future. This team will only go as far as he can take them, and I think he has the capability to take them pretty damn far.


Chris Sale

Nobody has more to prove in 2023 than Chris Sale. He has barely played in three years, and every single Red Sox fan on earth will hold their collective breath with each pitch he throws. Even if Sale miraculously comes out and dominates as he did in the first half of 2018, we will all be waiting for the other shoe to drop any second, dreading the moment where his left shoulder sags or we read the announcement that he will miss his next start due to elbow soreness or tightness. Sale needs to pitch well — not great, but well — to restore our faith in his rail-thin physique. He must take the ball every fifth day, fire up the dugout during cold stretches like he did in Game 4 of the 2018 World Series, talk to the media on a daily basis, and pump his fist after big outs. Seeing Chris Sale at the head of the table for a Red Sox team that is 10 games over .500 in July would be the ultimate aphrodisiac for any Red Sox fan, and it would energize the fanbase to an extent that we’ve not seen in five years.


John Schreiber

Word around the Red Sox beat is that Schreiber fronts an elaborate post-game celebration performance after every Red Sox win. Apparently there is a feathered boa, sunglasses, and an intricate dance routine involved and that everybody on the team gets a kick out of it. Those kinds of  bonding exercises supposedly help bring teams together on a personal level and create an atmosphere where teammates play for and support one another. Schreiber delivers more energy on the field than anyone else other than possibly Hernandez, and Fenway oozes confidence when he emerges from the bullpen to take the hill. He was lights out for most of 2022, and was literally the only dependable pitcher in the Red Sox bullpen all season long. His advanced stats and stuff point to Schreiber having another solid season in 2023. As one of the few bright spots from last season among a team that will look incredibly different this coming year, he is now a made man that the rest of the locker room will look to for guidance and direction.


It may not be Jeter – Pettitte – Rivera – Williams, or even Jeter – Pettitte – Rivera – Posada, but this is a backbone that can make a lot more waves than the baseball community at large wants to admit. If these four guys can embrace these roles and stay healthy, the rest of the AL East may have a serious problem on their hands in Boston.

By Luke

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