Winding down the disappointment…still…
…as promised (warned?), I wasn’t done from yesterday:
*Xander: By all accounts, Xander Bogaerts has had an unbelievable season. But has he? Please let me preface this by saying the arrow is certainly pointed up. And he turns just 23 in a couple of weeks. So please do not take this as extreme criticism of the kid. Just pointing out facts.
Before Friday’s action, he was hitting .321. Very nice indeed. Looks like he will compete for 2nd in batting in the AL. Hell, Miguel Cabrera leads at .336, and currently qualifies with enough plate appearances. But Miggy is 38 shy of the 502 necessary at season’s end and if the Tigers shut him down early, X can win it. Ok, unlikely they will do that, but…anyway, the average is nice.
Only 25 walks puts his on-base percentage at .352. Not horrible…still tied for 23rd in the AL. And better than the .297 in 2014. He’s cut down on his strikeouts from 138 to 85. His OPS is up over a hundred points to .767. But .767 for a #3 hitter? That actually puts him at 38th in the AL.
The glaring thing for me is the FIVE home runs. He even had 12 last year. Jackie Bradley Jr. has 8. Travis Shaw has 11. Mookie Betts has 15. The first two listed here have a third of X’s plate appearances.
The kid has had a nice year. They put him back at shortstop from the start and he has responded. The future looks very bright. I’m a big fan. All I am saying is let’s not get carried away like some of the local yahoo’s have and put him in Cooperstown yet. There’s a lot more of the upside yet to be realized. Let’s hope he realizes it before Scotty Boras shuffles him out of town in a few years.
*Fat Panda: Having back issues. What a big surprise. I would love if Dave Dombrowski could unload this contract. Fat chance of that happening, pun totally intended.
I will say, if somehow he gets in some sort of shape…I don’t have to tell you how big an “if” that is…maybe his second year in the AL goes better than the first. If this lineup is what it should be, all he has to do is do what he did in San Francisco. And then maybe they can unload him as the deal gets cheaper.
*Kids (offense): Even though it may have seemed harsh above on Xander (age 22), he has taken a step up this year for sure. Mookie (22) has as well. JBJ (25) has shown some competence…more than previous years. Blake Swihart (23) arrived earlier than expected and survived a rough start to get up around .275. Rusney (28), though not as young as the rest, has flourished somewhat with regular playing time. Shaw (25) has been a little bit of a find. Christian Vazquez (25) missed the year of course, but in 2014 he obviously showed some promise for the future.
These are only the guys that are already here. There are others like Manuel Margot, Rafael Devers, Yoan Moncada, et al, that may be here soon enough. Those are the names you hear most, but according to “people who know”, there are other decent prospects in the lower levels too.
Some of the above will probably go in trades. Can’t possibly keep them all. But it is hard not to be excited about the talent we have already seen at the major league level. Sprinkle in a few pieces here and there and the offense looks like the foundation is set. Now, for the opposite…
*Rotation: Thanks to Ben, it appears the 2016 starting rotation is just about set as well. But ummmmm…this is not a good thing. Rick Porcello’s 20-plus mil contract kicks in next year. There is no way anyone is biting on that. If someone does, Dombrowski deserves Executive of the Year in a landslide. (How’s that Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Wilson for Porcello trade looking as well, Ben? Ugh…). DD has already essentially acknowledged they will pick up Clay Buchholz’ option at 13 mil, “if he is healthy”. That’s a huge stretch for Clay of course, but at that money and with his stuff, I suppose you kind of have to pick it up. Despite the fact that he will never be a 200/220 inning guy with 16-20 wins, like his stuff often suggests.
Wade Miley is on the hook for about 15 mil over the next 2 years. Sadly, he will end the year as the teams’ best starter. For that price he won’t kill you. But he also may be tradeable at that price. I don’t see them doing that though. DD has already floated that he expects Joe Kelly to be a starter. Hopefully that was just lip service. This guy has middle relief written all over him. Fine one time through the order, but after? All bets are off. Throws 98 but doesn’t miss bats. That’s a nice 10th pitcher on any staff I say.
But there are 4 of the “5 aces” Ben put together at the start of 2015. Mercifully, Justin Masterson is long gone. But the other 4 mediocre guys remain. Throw in the kids that have thrown pretty decent this year, Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens, and one that supposedly has promise in Brian Johnson. Now all of a sudden you have a crowded rotation…and possibly no room to get that one “ace” that you really need.
Thankfully, Dombrowski is no stranger to the trade market. And I would guess any one of the above could be had for the right price. Not that I would just give any of those guys away…other than Porcello. But I believe that DD will indeed land a top-notch #1 over winter. David Price would just cost money. But there are always those studs on small market teams that are heading to arbitration or free agency and can be had for prospects. Gotta believe he will land that #1 somehow. I think that interview from earlier this week about “building up the pitching staff, starting from the bullpen” is somewhat of a smokescreen. Though we’ll talk about the ‘pen later.
What I would do? Glad you asked! Go get a #1 for whatever it takes. Slot Bucky, Porcello, Miley and E-Rod 2-5 (yikes!). Kelly goes in long relief. Steven Wright also in ‘pen. There are your spot starters. Acquire 87 stout bullpen arms. If Owens and Johnson are still here in the spring, stash in Pawtucket for the time being. If Bucky gets off to a hot start, immediately deal him and get a reliable #2. Try to get a reliable #2 anyway, someone proven. Something like that anyway. Bottom line, if Bucky gets back to exhibiting ANY trade value whatsoever…TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!
With all the contracts and limited trade value of a lot of the guys here, that may be the best we can hope for. It’s easy to say “go get 2 #1’s and a #2, then…”. But not entirely realistic…no matter how much money you have.
*Bullpen: What a colossal disaster. Combination of washed up major leaguers, “not ready” minor leaguers and veteran AAAA guys right now. And I am not even including Rich Hill, who somehow dominated a start last week. Get ready for 3 1/3 IP & 7 runs if he gets another one. Look at the names: Breslow, Cook, Mendez, Machi, Layne, Hembree, Ogando, Aro, Barnes, Ross and some dude named “Noe”. Of course Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa are their best 2 relievers. But, predictably, Koji is hurt and Junichi’s arm actually fell off earlier this month. Ben clearly missed the trade window on these guys…but they aren’t the first players he missed trade windows on, ssssooooo…it just sucks that a lot of us have been pining for the return of Edward Mujica. Ok, maybe not…but the point has been made I believe.
Solution? Keep Koji and Taz, but don’t warm them up 3 times a game every game through June whether or not they get into the actual game. Think the trade value on them now is low, so there is not really much choice. Sign/trade for 2 or 3 REAL relievers, preferably ones that throw hard. Overpay if you have to…you can, you are the Red Sox! Load up on 5 other decent guys and then see what falls out in March. Stash a few in AAA if you can. Tell Barnes he is either a starter or reliever and have him prepare accordingly over the winter. Maybe he can be salvaged. Bullpen arms are tricky. Never know what you are going to get from year to year. Just toss some dough at bunch of them…can’t really give you anything more scientific than that, unfortunately.
*Kids (pitching): At various points in 2014, think of all the young arms the organization was touting: Owens, Barnes, Rodriguez, Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Johnson, maybe even Drake Britton or Eduardo Escobar…maybe more.
Well, like a year later, where do these guys stand? Not necessarily pretty. de la Rosa was fairly decent last year. Webster was not anywhere near that. They both were dispatched for an average Miley. And those 2 remain about the same in AZ. Ranaudo was sent straight up for Robbie Ross Jr. That should tell you all you need to know. And Ranaudo has been shelled in TX when up this year for good measure. Britton was terrible in Pawtucket last year in the bullpen, and was busy getting blasted in the Cubs farm system this year as well, both starting and relieving. Escobar was hurt essentially all year. Johnson got hurt in the 2nd half. Though Owens has pitched ok this year overall, his stock has fallen in the past couple of years. Barnes wasn’t very good as a starter or reliever. The only one that came close to matching all the hype was Rodriguez.
As opposed to the kids coming up through the system as every day players, the ground has not been as fertile for the young pitchers rising up. All the more important for DD to make the right decisions here over the winter and through into next season…guess that goes without saying…
Posted on September 19, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged American League, Ben Cherington, Blake Swihart, Boston Red Sox, bullpen, Clay Buchholz, Dave Dombrowski, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens, JBJ, Joe Kelly, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, Miguel Cabrera, Mookie Betts, prospects, Rick Porcello, Rubby de la Rosa, Wade Miley, World Series, Xander Bogaerts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.