Ok, it was yesterday. But still got me thinking about the warmer weather. Been quite a lovely few weeks around Beantown, but that’s the kind of thing we sign up for every once in a while for living in this region of the country. Snow, cold, snow…and some more snow. Some winters anyway. As the immortal William Belichick would say, it is what it is.
Anyway, with the Red Sox equipment truck heading to Spring Training in Florida yesterday, it obviously also got me thinking again about baseball…and the Red Sox in particular.
Since the flurry of moves in mid-December, I have been saying that the Sawx are not done shaping the 2015 team. They can’t go into the year having a rotation full of #3 starters (and saying “#3” may even be generous in a sense), nor can they go in with 112 outfielders either. OK, people are actually counting Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz as outfielders. Yes, OF technically is their position, as listed on the roster. But they aren’t playing on this year’s team, so I think we can safely say they don’t really count at this point. So the number of outfielders the Sox have is not quite that high, but there is still an excess. It has always seemed as if more moves were actually necessary.
But are they?
Of course they are!! But I don’t feel the Red Sox feel the same way, at this very point in time anyway.
They absolutely need an ace…or at least a #2 type. I think they know that. That’s why you hear all the whispers about Cole Hamels. Sure, the Sox will take him. But the Phillies asking price seems to be a little high. I have no idea what they are asking for, but he is still in Philly in mid-February. That pretty much tells me the price is too high for any team. Rumor is they want either one of Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart. Among other players, I am sure. And probably eating a significant amount of his remaining contract (looks like 4 years, 94 mil, with another option year that could be a factor as well).
I almost always would trade any prospect for a proven major league stud at any position. Almost always. The Carl Pavano/Tony Armas Jr. for Pedro deal was one of my all-time favorites. But for Cole Hamels? Not so sure. I do like Hamels as a pitcher, no question. But a lot of mileage on that arm. 31 years old now. NL pitcher his entire career. Lot of dough to come up with. Would make me wonder why they just didn’t re-sign Jon Lester…or even sign James Shields, for that matter. Just would have to spend the money in those cases. For whatever reason, I’m just not feeling this one.
You start talking Chris Sale though, or a pitcher of that ilk? Goodbye Mookie.
The Sox are spending a ton of money…and they should. But personally, I like it when they are able to integrate some homegrown prospects into the mix each year. Or young prospects that were acquired somehow…you get the point. As of right this second, I am not trading Betts, Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens, Zeke Spruill…whoops, no, you can have Zeke. Those first 4 for sure, and there may be others in the minors that have somewhat elite potential (I hear the names Rafael Devers, Manuel Margot & Brian Johnson a lot), that if I knew them any better I may say I don’t want to trade them either. And I’m not trading Xander Bogaerts.
Maybe every single one of those guys turns out to be a bum. But I’ll take my chances. I think Red Sox management will too…at least for now. This seems like the first time in quite a while people other than the Red Sox themselves say that the organization has this many high ceiling prospects. It’s been building over the last decade of course, but it appears they have accumulated a lot of “assets” over the years and are at its highest point currently. They traded a few of those earlier this winter. I’m ok with that. Other than Rubby de la Rosa, who I liked what I saw from him last year, the other guys on the way out seemed to be expendable. Have never been impressed with Allen Webster. Anthony Ranaudo? Maybe. Raymel Flores and Gabe Speier? Who the hell knows with those guys? Will Middlebrooks? Hahaha…good riddance dude!
Side note: You can argue the return in all of those deals for sure. An old backup catcher for Middlebrooks (who despite all of his criticisms is still relatively young and has power potential)? De la Rosa, Webster AND Flores for Miley? Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson AND Speier for maybe one year of Rick Porcello? Ranaudo for Robbie Ross? To me, the Sox overpaid in all of those deals. But that’s me. I also would have kept Drake Britton, who was designated for assignment to fit Alexi Ogando onto the 40-man roster. Yes, Britton was wretched in Pawtucket last year. But he is 25 years old, lefty and has had some success in the majors, albeit in limited action. I’d have kept him over a guy like Tommy Layne. Because he is, well…Tommy Layne. Nice run last year. But basically a career minor leaguer himself.
Anyway, after thinking about all of this recently, I think the Sox’ Opening Day Roster is actually set right now, with the players they already have. And no ace coming or surplus outfielders going. I see it as:
Starting pitchers (5): Clay Buchholz, Porcello, Miley, Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson
Relief pitchers-left (3): Craig Breslow, Layne, Ross
Relief pitchers-right (4): Anthony Varvaro, Ogando, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara
Catcher (2): Christian Vazquez, Hanigan
Infielders (5): Mike Napoli (1B), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Bogaerts (SS), Pablo Sandoval (3B), Brock Holt
Outfielders (5): Hanley Ramirez (LF), Rusney Castillo (CF), Shane Victorino (RF), Allen Craig, Daniel Nava
Designated Hitter (1): David Ortiz
To those that are actually paying attention, they may count two notable omissions from my list. Mookie Betts and to a lesser extent, Edward Mujica. Mujica was largely atrocious last year, but pitched better in the 2nd half. Maybe the pressure was off since the team was bad. But either way, there has been some smoke around his name lately. I see this as being their only move of the spring, as of now. They probably move him for a bag of baseballs to free up the spot. John Farrell seems to like 3 lefties in the bullpen, so they all stick. It really doesn’t matter that Ross is more effective against righties…I guess because Varvaro is more effective against lefties…so they say.
As for Betts, that’s a little more difficult. Holt needs to be on the team for the simple reason is that he is the backup shortstop. Also in this scenario he is your backup centerfielder. Not to mention you can plug him in anywhere else in a pinch. You could free up a spot for Mookie by trading any one of Napoli, Nava, Craig or Victorino. But Nappy is hopefully primed for a comeback year with his sleep apnea surgery and with one year left on his deal, I don’t see it. Craig’s value is as low as it could be. Nava is who he is and has minimal value. He will be an asset against righties though. No one is taking Vic’s 13 mil unless the Sox pay 12.95 of it.
My feeling is this: Between the roughly 1,400 plate appearances combined from 1B and RF, Napoli probably gets 500 or so and the other 3 will split the rest. Or I believe that to be the initial plan. Even if there is no way that is how it will work out. Victorino is not likely to stay healthy, nor will Hanley for that matter. Ortiz will take some days off. They laughably have Craig taking grounders at 3B, so maybe they try and give him AB’s there as well. All these guys will get a decent amount of playing time somewhere on the diamond though. I also include Betts in that projection. The Sox will start with this plan and as soon as someone gets hurt or they get a decent offer for one of them, Betts will be up and likely playing RF regularly. But my sense is he starts the year in the minors. And that’s why I don’t think they are dealing any OF’s anytime soon.
Same goes for the pitchers. Other than Mujica, projecting the staff right now was easy. Unless the Hamels price comes down, they will stand pat I believe. I feel that they WILL add an ace at some point, but not immediately. I’m not saying that they should proceed this way, I just feel like they will. They’ll see how this setup goes and work from there. Maybe someone gets hurt and they call up Rodriguez or Matt Barnes and they get a look first too. The bullpen, as always, will be volatile. A guy like Brandon Workman will start in Pawtucket as well. But he will be in the mix at some point. Probably Eduardo Escobar, Heath Hembree, Steven Wright and Spruill as well. And/or one of the veteran arms they signed to a minor league deal, like Dana Eveland or Mitchell Boggs.
As disappointing and even disheartening it will be to some, it appears that what you see is what you get and this is the team we will see heading into April. Just hope that they make the necessary adjustments quickly along the way, especially when that rotation proves to be putrid…
Posted on February 13, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged Beantown, Blake Swihart, Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale, Cole Hamels, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, John Farrell, Koji Uehara, Major League Baseball, Mike Napoli, Mookie Betts, Opening Day, Pablo Sandoval, Xander Bogaerts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.